CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – Rep. Nancy Mace (R) et al. Annie Andrews (D) met Wednesday for the first and only scheduled debate ahead of the November election.
While the candidates bantered a lot on social media and in campaign ads, the debate was their first face-to-face meeting.
The heated rhetoric carried over from the screen to the campaign stage, with sparks flying in three main areas.
SC-01 voters got a glimpse of what Wednesday night would hold Tuesday, when the candidates began firing shots at each other’s positions on the topic.
Mace said she is pro-life, but supports exceptions for rape, incest, maternal health and fetal abnormalities. She drew on her own experience as a rape survivor, making an emotional appeal to women in South Carolina and pledging to protect them.
Andrews said she supports abortions until viability, which is generally considered to be 24 weeks. She said her view agreed with my medical experts. Andrews questioned Mays’ genuine support for a woman’s right to choose, citing her co-sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act.
Tensions escalated when Mace confronted Andrews about how her own experience had affected her position.
Andrews sympathized with Mays’ trauma, but argued that Mays was misleading Lowcountry voters.
The candidates went back and forth accusing each other of putting children at risk.
Mace accused Andrews of child abuse for allegedly supporting gender-affirmation surgeries on minors. She argued that allowing children to make irreversible decisions before the age of 18 could lead to the child regretting the decision. Mace was not opposed to gender transition, but said that irreversible decisions, such as taking hormones or surgery, should not be made before the age of 18.
Andrews denied the claim and accused Mace of bullying transgender children, which she said leads to mental health issues and suicide. She said right-wing attacks on pediatric hospitals have resulted in threats to hospitals like MUSC and across the country.
On guns, Andrews cited her work as a pediatrician, treating victims of gun violence. She addressed Mace’s failure to vote on a gun safety bill after the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, accusing Mace of putting her NRA rating above the safety of children in schools.
Mace said that often red flag laws don’t work. She used the city of Chicago as an example, which she said has some of the strictest gun laws but is still plagued by violence. Mace said Andrews doesn’t understand how Washington works and that bills that look good on the surface often contain “poison pills” when you read them.
Both candidates agreed that the Lowcountry faces unique and serious infrastructure challenges.
Andrews questioned Mace’s abilities, citing much work still to be done in the Lowcountry.
Andrews cited climate change as one of the biggest threats to the Lowcountry and said we need resilient and efficient infrastructure to keep things afloat. She accused Mace of being a climate change denier and not working hard enough to come across the aisle and get things done in Washington.
Mace said the allegations were patently false, telling Andrews, “I know you can read an X-ray, but you can’t read a bill,” and questioning her willingness to play the part. She also disputed Andrews’ charge that infrastructure was not one of her top priorities.
Mace also noted that she just secured over $100 million in appropriations for flood projects in SC-01. It submitted 14 proposals for financing as part of the Water Resources Management Act, nine of which were approved.
About their opponents:
At the end of the debate, each candidate was asked to name one thing they admired about their opponent.
Mace said she admired her opponent’s courage for entering the race. She said that she knows firsthand what kind of sacrifices are made in the candidacy.
Andrews said she admires any working mom.