Democrat Amo commits to a second CD1 debate with Republican Leonard
There will be more than one debate in the race for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District — two to be exact.
Democrat Gabe Amo on Tuesday accepted an invitation to participate in a debate taking place Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. hosted by WJAR live in Sapinsley Hall at Rhode Island College. The announcement came just hours after his opponent Republican Gerry Leonard repeated his challenge to hold multiple debates across the district.
“Gabe is excited to participate in two debates, one on WJAR and one on WPRI,” campaign spokesperson Matt Rauschenbach said in an email Tuesday afternoon.
Rauschenbach did not explain why Amo agreed to the second debate nor why he only committed Tuesday to WJAR.
Prior to Amo’s commitment to WJAR, Leonard said Amo had agreed to just one debate before the Nov. 7 general election — an appearance on WPRI 12′s “Newsmakers” scheduled for Nov. 3. That debate will be taped in the station’s East Providence studio with Target 12 Chief Investigative Reporter Tim White and News Politics Editor Ted Nesi moderating.
Two is still not enough for Leonard, who has challenged Amo to 12 debates. At a press conference at Prospect Terrace Park in Providence Tuesday morning, Leonard said there should be more debates, particularly ahead of the Oct. 18 start of early voting, which runs to Nov. 6.
“By the time my opponent debates me, my active-duty military friends will have voted overseas,” Leonard said. “A vibrant, open debate is a critical part of our democratic system.”
He called Amo’s decision to commit to so few debates “a partisan playbook.”
“I assume his lack of an economic plan or vision for Rhode Island has led him to run solely on his political appointments where he served as a cheerleader for the policies that are crippling Rhode Island families, making us weak abroad, and driving political extremism at home,” Leonard said.
Rauschenbach responded to Leoanrd’s criticisms on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter).
“Gabe’s Republican opponent will have the opportunity to explain to Rhode Islanders why he supports an extreme and dysfunctional GOP Majority that has brought our government to the brink of shutdown, stripped away women’s rights, worked relentlessly to give massive tax breaks to the uber-wealthy, and done nothing to address to epidemic of gun violence plaguing our communities,” Rauschenbach posted.