BOSTON — U.S. Senate hopefuls, Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez, are heading into the final week of the campaign. The two candidates faced off Tuesday night for their last broadcast debate, a lively back-and-forth hosted by a media consortium that included WBUR.
The two candidates were asked about Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency consultant that leaked details of NSA programs that monitor phone calls of millions of Americans and the internet activity of targets abroad and any Americans citizens they are in contact with. Markey would not go so far as to call Snowden a traitor, but Gomez did.
“Mr. Snowden broke the law and he should be prosecuted fully, and if he put anybody’s life in danger, he’s absolutely a traitor,” Gomez said.
Markey, who owns homes in Maryland and Massachusetts, has released eight years of tax returns, but the address has been redacted. Moderator R. D. Sahl asked him in what state he listed his home address.
“Oh, it is Massachusetts,” Markey replied. “That was just the accountant who made a mistake.”
After the debate, Markey promised reporters he would release the tax forms with the unredacted address Wednesday.
Markey has tried to make gun control an issue in this race. Gomez opposes a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Markey supports a ban.
“Where would a civilian need a weapon where they could shoot a gun with 100 bullets in it in under two minutes?” Markey asked Gomez.
“Congressman, you know that here in Massachusetts we have a ban on assault weapons,” replied Gomez.
Gomez has objected to a Markey TV ad pointing out that these weapons were used in the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Gomez pointed out that he supports expanding background checks on gun purchasers, but he never answered Markey’s question. Markey asked it again.
“Where could a gun like that be used by a civilian that could shoot 100 bullets in under two minutes?” Markey asked.
“What I want to do, congressman, I want to ban all weapons from the wrong people, and you know that’s the way to actually solve the problem and make our schools, our communities, and our kids safer,” Gomez said. “Yet you want to be craven enough to go out there and use the Newtown massacre for political gain and you understand that there’s only one way we’re going to make our schools, our communities and our kids safer, and that’s to pass the expanded background check and tie it to mental illness.”
Gomez asked Markey, who was elected to Congress 37 years ago, if he believes in term limits.
“You just had John McCain in campaigning for you three weeks ago,” Markey replied. “Did you ask John McCain to leave the Senate? You have Mitch McConnell, from Kentucky, the Republican leader in the Senate, raising money for you across the country. Did you ask Mitch McConnell, tell him that it’s time for him to leave the Senate as part of your ability to get support from them to help you in this campaign? No, Mr. Gomez, you did not.”
“Yes, I did,” Gomez interjected.
“No, you did not,” Markey said, incredulous. “You did not tell John McCain that you don’t think he belongs in the Senate anymore as you were praising him at that press conference. That did not happen.”
“I did actually, Congressman,” Gomez slipped in.
In these lively exchanges, Gabriel Gomez exuded more confidence than in their previous encounters. In six days, he finds out if it was enough to move people to vote for him in this heavily Democratic state, or if the extraordinary grassroots effort mounted by Ed Markey is able to turn out enough votes to bring him to the U.S. Senate.