PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The leading candidates running for Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District faced off during their first televised debate Tuesday, trading jabs over where they stand on the economy, abortion and their ties to party leaders in Washington.

Republican Allan Fung and Democrat Seth Magaziner are locked in a close race in the final weeks before the general election on Nov. 8, with early voting beginning Wednesday. Fung held a single-digit lead in the most recent public polls, including the one conducted earlier this month by 12 News and Roger Williams University.

And millions of dollars have been pouring into Rhode Island nationally from both major political parties, as the GOP seeks to flip the U.S. House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm election. A Republican has not represented Rhode Island’s 2nd District in more than 30 years.

“I think they both accomplished what they wanted to accomplish,” 12 News political analyst Joe Fleming said immediately following the debate.

“Magaziner spoke about Democratic issues to try and solidify the Democratic vote,” he added, noting 24% of Democratic voters were backing Fung in the 12 News/RWU poll. “Fung got his points across about the cost of living and how things are out of control — also explaining himself as a moderate and independent person.”

The two candidates focused heavily on what the other would represent to the nation. Fung argued a vote for Magaziner equaled a vote for President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, blaming them for fanning the flames of inflation — which is at a 30-year high.

“This economy has to drive back down some of that ridiculous spending coming from Washington,” Fung said.

Magaziner, meanwhile, argued a vote for Fung was a vote for GOP leaders in the House, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who he said are seeking to gut Social Security and limit abortion rights.

“I trust women to make the choice of whether or when to have children,” Magaziner said. “He believes it should be up to politicians and judges.” Fung pushed back at that, arguing his position on abortion is more moderate than House GOP leaders.

Both men disagreed with one another throughout the night and the debate at times had the candidates pointing fingers at one another and calling each other liars.

Below are some of the top highlights from the hour-long debate hosted by 12 News moderators Tim White and Ted Nesi:

Skip to a topic: Cost of Living | Abortion | Police | Criticism | Rapid Fire | Social Security | Jan. 6 Committee | Stock Trading | Border/Immigration | Foreign Policy | Closing Statements

Also watch: Post-Debate Spin Room and Analysis »

Cost of living




Rapid Fire

Social Security

Jan. 6 Committee

Stock Trading


Foreign Policy

Closing Statements

Post-Debate Spin Room & Analysis

Photos: RI Congressional Debate

Eli Sherman ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and on Facebook.