Two Democrats face-off for the 1st Congressional district

PROVIDENCE, RI – Voter fraud, Medicare and the economy dominated a debate Tuesday night between Congressman David Cicilline and Anthony Gemma, the democratic businessman who would like to replace him. Gemma was forced to explain his flip flop on reproductive rights while Cicilline was grilled on the financial condition of the capital city he once led.

Two years ago Anthony Gemma said he was opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Now he supports abortion rights without exception. At a debate co-sponsored by WPRI TV and the Providence Journal he was asked to explain his reversal of position. "I can tell you this that what happened with the Republican party and their attack on women's rights appalled me. I have re-evaluated my position and have changed it to pro-choice."

The toughest part of the debate for Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence, was trying to explain why he characterized the capital city's finances as "excellent" when his successor likened them to a category 5 hurricane. "I was overly optimistic when I described the conditions of the city and I've acknowledged that."

Debate moderator Tim White asked each of the candidates to say something nice about the other.

Gemma was the first to respond: "I like your tie."

Moderator: "ok, you got a compliment on your tie. Mr. Cicilline?"

Cicilline: "I applaud the way you've honored your mother."

The two democrats were asked whether they would support the winner of the Democratic primary for the first congressional district. Cicilline said he would support Gemma, but Gemma said he could not back Cicilline.

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