Gubernatorial hopefuls describe differences in 2nd debate
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and Republican gubernatorial hopeful Allan Fung would take different approaches to protecting abortion rights and enforcing immigration law if elected in November.
The front-runners in the race for governor sought to communicate their differences to voters in their second debate Monday.
Raimondo wants the legislature to codify the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling. Fung says he wouldn’t support anything that permits late-term abortions.
Fung opposes a proposed reproductive rights bill and wants to work with the state legislature on a new one. His proposal would protect a woman’s right, but it would also provide for an abortion-free option for health insurance on the state’s exchange, require parental notification for teenagers seeking abortion and bar late-term abortions, Fung’s spokesman said Tuesday.
Fung said in the first debate that he “respects a woman’s right to make a medical decision with commonsense limitations,” but would not elaborate on what that meant.
On immigration, Fung said he would order the state police to sign an agreement with the Department of Justice to enforce immigration law. He said he would freeze state aid to cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.
Raimondo said Immigration and Customs Enforcement is responsible for enforcing immigration law and deporting people who commit crimes, not the state police. She said Rhode Island follows the law and accused Fung of politicizing the issue to try to scare people.
The University of Rhode Island, The Providence Journal and The Public’s Radio hosted the debate. Raimondo talked about how she has changed the state’s approach to economic development, road and bridge repairs and school construction. She said her challengers want to undo that work and go backward. Fung said voters should choose him because Raimondo had her chance and his plans and reforms will “put us back on the right track.”
Independent Joe Trillo and Moderate Party candidate William Gilbert also answered questions from a panel of journalists at URI’s Kingston Campus. Trillo was asked if he had the right temperament to be governor because of a decades-old assault case. He was found not guilty. Trillo said he does because the state needs a governor who isn’t afraid to “go head on” with special interests and “clean up” state government. He also said onerous regulations are killing businesses in Rhode Island and he wants to help entrepreneurs.
All of the candidates said they would continue to phase out the car tax. Raimondo said she probably would not cut the state sales tax, while Fung, Trillo and Gilbert would.
Fung, Trillo and Gilbert want to create an inspector general’s office to root out waste and fraud. Raimondo said she’s open to it, but isn’t convinced it’s needed.
The Nov. 6 election is a rematch for Raimondo and Fung, who were both their parties’ nominees in 2014. A recent poll showed Raimondo in the lead.
There is currently just one other debate that both Raimondo and Fung have committed to attending, a Nov. 1 debate on WJAR-TV. Fung’s campaign said he has also committed to additional debates, but Raimondo’s spokesman said WJAR was the only remaining debate they had committed to after receiving invitations from multiple news organizations.
AP Writer Michelle R. Smith contributed to this report.