Sen. Schumer, Jay Townsend clash at debate

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(AP) - Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer andRepublican challenger Jay Townsend sparred over health care,stimulus and the two-term incumbent's record in a sometimescontentious debate Sunday night. Townsend, a Hudson Valley political consultant far behind in thepolls, came out aggressively early in the pair's lone scheduleddebate at Marist College, assailing what he called the "Obama,Pelosi, Schumer agenda." Answering a question about the possibility of Schumer succeedingSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid if the Nevada senator loses atight race Nov. 2, Townsend claimed that Schumer allowed the healthcare overhaul bill to pass with sweetheart deals for other statesand costly mandates for New York so Schumer could curry favor withhis colleagues. "If this man will do this to the state of New York to climb theleadership ladder, imagine what he will do to New York to stay onthe throne once he has it," Townsend said. Schumer said he believes Reid will win re-election. He addedthat he fought hard to make sure the health care bill included anadditional $2.1 billion in Medicaid reimbursements for New York. "Whenever I am in Washington, New York is first for me,"Schumer said. "It's in my bones." There were some areas of broad agreement, such as on the needfor renewable energy and some kind of comprehensive immigrationreform. But the pair disagreed on a series of issues, including thebest way to deal with China's currency policies and gay marriage(Schumer supports it, Townsend does not). Townsend, who has never run for public office before, denouncedSchumer's support for the recent financial regulation legislationand the stimulus bill. Schumer defended his support of the TroubledAssets Relief Program bank bailout and he said to oppose thefinancial regulation bill would be to risk another financialmeltdown. "I listen to my opponent," Schumer said. "He says he wouldn'tbe for the stimulus. He wouldn't be for the TARP, he wouldn't befor financial reform. The last time we had a leader who did thatwas Herbert Hoover." Townsend said financial reform needs to address problems atmortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He also accused Schumerand the Democrats in New York of doing a poor job on the economy. "One million New Yorkers will go to bed tonight without a jobto go to tomorrow morning," Townsend said.

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