Rep. Barbara Comstock sees herself as a problem-solver able to get things done in Congress. State Sen. Jennifer Wexton, her Democratic challenger, said Comstock is part of a group of lawmakers who are unwilling or unable to tackle tough issues.
Comstock, the Republican incumbent, and Wexton are on the Nov. 6 ballot to represent the 10th District in Congress, which includes part of Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.
The candidates spoke during separate appearances Friday night before an audience of more than 300 during a forum at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque in Sterling.
“Nobody wants to roll of up their sleeves to find a solution” to the health care insurance problem, Wexton said. “When I’m elected to Congress that’s what I’ll do.”
Comstock faced shouts of “Answer the question!” from audience members unhappy with an indirect response. At one point, a man who stood up to shout at the candidate was escorted away by security.
Tempers were cool and there were no such outbursts during Wexton’s turn to field questions from a panel. After the Q-&-A , many members of the audience sought to pose for photos with her.
Wexton is a former prosecutor and current state senator representing the 33rd District, which includes parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties.
Comstock is seeking a third two-year term in the House of Representatives.
Both candidates faced a mix of questions on national and international issues.
“We are all concerned about the human crisis on the border,” Comstock said. “I am pro-immigration and pro-immigration reform. This is a bipartisan concern.”
Comstock noted that Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, has called on the Trump administration to work with Mexico on a solution to deal with a caravan of migrants from Honduras coming north that the United Nations estimates numbers 7,000 but Miexican officials say is closer to 3,500.
Wexton said the Trump administration has “weaponized” the immigration issue for political gain.
“The frightening thing is [Trump] is trying to shut down not only illegal immigration but legal immigration” through restrictions, Wexton said. “We’ve had opportunities to fix it. You shouldn’t have to wait six years to get a green card or even longer to bring families here.”
Both candidates faced questions regarding U.S. policy in the Middle East and specifically regarding the Palestinians.
Wexton decried the cut in aid to the Palestinians by the Trump administration.
“I will work to restore that aid and make sure our relationships are strong. We need to balance security with human rights,” Wexton said. “We need to restore our place in the world as a neutral arbiter.”
Asked about the presence of “Islamophobia” in the U.S., Wexton said, “The problem is only growing under President Trump.”
The House of Representatives passed a resolution introduced by Comstock that calls for swift investigation and prosecution of those perpetrating crimes and threats against religious, racial and ethnic minorities. And to improve the reporting of such crimes and efforts to deter them. Similar legislation passed the U.S. Senate.
“When you have a diverse community, you have to be able to sit down and work with people who may not even like you,” something which she has done, Comstock said.
Wexton said she thought the president’s response to the intended bombs mailed to critics of Trump’s was “inadequate. The president should be trying to unite our country.”
Bombs concealed in packages were sent this week to former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other high-profile critics of Trump. They were intercepted before reaching the intended recipients.
Comstock applauded the work of investigators that resulted in the arrest Friday of a Florida man now charged with mailing 14 bombs.
A TargetPoint poll released this week shows the Comstock-Wexton race in a tie, a Washington Post poll has Wexton with a 13- point advantage, while a New York Times poll has Wexton up by 7 points.
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