Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican challenger Joe DioGuardi sparred over several key issues that have divided the country Thursday night in their only live, televised debate on NY1.
The hour-long debate was held at Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y.
Some of the hot topics included the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, federal spending, and the military's controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"Fundamentally, this policy undermines the entire integrity of our military and that's why I've been so passionate about trying to make sure we can repeal this policy this year," Gillibrand said.
"I don't think there should be any discrimination on anything whether it's civil, economic, political, or human rights. But this issue has to be examined in the context of what these generals might see as a national security issue," DioGuardi said.
The former Westchester Congressman pressed Gillibrand on her work with tobacco firms when she was a private attorney, as well as her role in the national housing crisis.
"She added to the national debt, saying that the expenditures were justified because they would create jobs. They didn’t," DioGuardi said.
Meanwhile, the state's junior Senator said DioGuardi has constantly mis-characterized her record. She also called him far too conservative for New Yorkers.
“He supports the same failed trickle-down economics of the Bush administration. He wants to privatize Social Security. He doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose or women’s rights," Gillibrand said.
The candidates also took part in a lightning round segment, which featured one word responses to questions ranging from the Tea Party Movement to the World Trade Center Mosque.
At one point, Gillibrand's physical appearance was brought up. In particular, the recent glamour photos that appeared in Vogue magazine.
“Do you want a senator that strikes a pose? Or do you want a senator that’s a certified public accountant, to protect the bottom line and preserve the American dream for the future?” DioGuardi asked.
Gillibrand seemed to agree there is a double standard applied to women in politics.
"These kinds of issues are ones that are real, because in fact, a lot of women don’t choose to be in public service because of it," said the Senator.
Gillibrand was appointed to the seat vacated by now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On Sunday, NY1 will carry the only debate between Democratic incumbent Senator Charles Schumer and Republican Jay Townsend. That debate will be live from Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
A 30-minute statewide analysis program will follow the debate.