CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Representative Nancy Mace (R) and Dr. Annie Andrews (D) met Wednesday for the first and only scheduled debate ahead of the November elections.

While the candidates have taken many jabs at each other on social media and in campaign ads, the debate was their first in-person meeting.

The heated rhetoric carried over from the screen to the campaign stage, with sparks flying in three major areas.

Abortion:

SC-01 voters got a sneak peak of what Wednesday night would have in store on Tuesday, when the candidates began taking shots at each other’s stances on the topic.

Mace said that she is pro-life, but supports exceptions for rape, incest, health of the mother, and fetal abnormalities. She invoked her own experience as a rape survivor, making an emotional appeal to women in South Carolina and promising to protect them.

Andrews said that she supports abortions up until viability, which is generally understood as 24 weeks. She said that her position is widely agreed upon my medical professionals. Andrews called into question Mace’s true 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 has informed her position.

“Look at me in the face and tell me, as a victim of rape, that I don’t care about women who have been raped.”

Rep. Nancy Mace

Andrews empathized with Mace’s trauma, but contended that Mace is misleading Lowcountry voters.

“I have never attacked you for being a victim of rape. But how stupid do you think women in this district are? Your name is on a life at conception act.”

Dr. Annie Andrews

Protecting Children:

The candidates went back and forth accusing each other of putting children in danger.

Mace accused Andrews of child abuse for allegedly supporting gender affirming surgeries on minors. She argued that allowing children to make irreversible decisions before they are 18 could result in the child regretting the decision down the line. Mace didn’t argue against gender transitioning, but said that irreversible decisions, such as starting hormones or having surgeries, shouldn’t 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 that attacks from the right on pediatric hospitals have resulted in threats to hospitals like MUSC and around the country.

On guns, Andrews cited her work as a pediatrician, treating victims of gun violence. She referenced Mace’s failure to vote on a gun safety bill in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, accusing Mace of putting her NRA rating above kids’ safety in schools.

Mace said that oftentimes, 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, yet is still plagued with gun violence. Mace said that Andrews doesn’t understand how Washington works and that bills that look good on the surface often contain “poison pills” once you read them.

Infrastructure:

Both candidates agreed that the Lowcountry is facing both unique and severe infrastructure challenges.

Andrews called into question Mace’s capabilities, citing the much work that still needs to be done in the Lowcountry.

“If she can’t fix our roads and bridges, then she may need to find another job.”

Annie Andrews

Andrews cited climate change as one of the biggest threats to the Lowcountry, and said that we need resilient and effective infrastructure to keep things afloat. She accused Mace of being a climate change denier, and not working hard enough to reach across the aisle and get things done in Washington.

Mace said the allegations were patently false, telling Andrews “I know you know how to read an X-ray, but you don’t know how to read a bill,” and questioning her propensity to serve in the role. She also contested Andrews’ accusation that infrastructure isn’t one of her top priorities.

“I’m gonna fight tooth and nail for all the resources I can get here in the Lowcountry.”

Rep. Nancy Mace

Mace also pointed out that she just secured over $100 million in appropriations for flooding projects in SC-01. She submitted 14 proposals for funding as part of the Water Resources Development Act, nine of which were approved.

On their opponents:

At the end of the debate, each candidate was asked to name one thing that she admires about her opponent.

Mace said that she admires her opponent’s courage for getting in the race. She said that she knows first hand the sacrifices that go into running for office.

Andrews said that she admires any working mom.