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Congressional races heat up

The first debate of the 2012 presidential campaign will take place tomorrow at 9 p.m. on cable and network news channels. President Obama will face off against Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in a confrontation that many speculate will be a definitive moment in the race.
Romney made his debating ability a major part of his primary campaign, arguing that he was the only candidate in the Republican field who could defeat Obama.
Each candidate has promised to fact-check his opponent during and after the debate. Up to this point, the race has been punctuated by allegations of lying from both sides. The Obama campaign has even arranged to send a team of politicians who worked with Romney while he was governor to battleground states after the debate to "tell the truth" about Romney's record, according to Politico.

U.S. Senate
In his bid for reelection, Barry Hinckley Jr., the Republican nominee opposing Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., has gone on the offensive in the past few weeks in an attempt to blunt the incumbent's polling lead. Hinckley connected Whitehouse to the 1,000 jobs Rhode Island will lose from layoffs at a General Dynamics plant if Congress allows major cuts planned for January 2013 to go into effect. The congressional Super Committee's failure to reduce the federal deficit will trigger automatic cuts of $500 billion in January if Congress does not move to stop the process.
Hinckley proposed holding an "up-or-down" vote - meaning neither side would be allowed to filibuster the vote - on Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, instead of playing a game of "chicken, in which thousands of Rhode Islanders and millions of Americans are political pawns."
Early last month, Whitehouse released his first advertisement of this election season, which celebrated the healthcare reform bill Congressional Democrats passed and highlighted the economic recovery stewarded by Democratic policies.

U.S. House of Representatives
In the first congressional district, where incumbent Rep. David Cicilline '83, D-R.I., is defending his seat against Republican businessman Brendan Doherty, statements from both candidates have recently been judged by the non-partisan website Politifact - which ranks the politicians' statements as true or false - as mostly false.
Cicilline received a "mostly false" rating for his assertion that Doherty wants "to repeal Obamacare, increasing drug prices for seniors." While Politifact conceded that repealing the health care law would raise drug prices for seniors, it clarified that Doherty has expressed support for retaining the component of healthcare legislation that closes the "donut hole" - a gap between cost and prescription drug coverage. Doherty has also said he wants to keep the mandates that prevent companies from denying coverage to individuals with preexisting conditions and those that continue to allow children to remain on their parents' health care plans until they turn 26.
Doherty received a false rating after he claimed that his campaign, "unlike the Cicilline campaign, is funded mostly by individual donors - not the big PACs that Cicilline relies on" in a Sept. 26 news release. Cicilline's campaign receives 75 percent of its funding from individual donors and 24 percent from PACs, according to Politifact. Doherty's campaign has raised 86 percent of its funds from individuals and 10 percent from PACs.
In its ruling, Politifact argued that "Cicilline may have gotten more money from political action committees than Doherty has, but the scope - 24 percent of $1.7 million raised - doesn't even come close to supporting a statement suggesting that Cicilline is getting most of his funds from PACs."
The second congressional district, which is playing host to a race this year between incumbent Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Republican Michael Riley, has also heated up in recent weeks. In a new radio ad this week, Riley accused Langevin of neglecting Rhode Island families and encouraging high gas prices by voting against the Keystone pipeline and the expansion of offshore drilling.


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