Underdog Suraj Patel slammed veteran Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler for making the rookie mistake of throwing their party’s sitting president “under the bus” last week by refusing to back his re-election.

During the second debate covering the Democratic primary for Manhattan’s 12th Congressional District Tuesday night, hosted by PIX-11, the three candidates were asked whether veteran experience or a fresh voice mattered more in Congress.

“The rookie on this stage is the only one who didn’t just spend seven days embarrassing themselves and throwing President Biden under the bus for re-election in 2024,” Patel said.

He was referring to Maloney, 76, who has been in Congress for 30 years, saying during the NY1/WNYC debate last week, “I don’t believe  he’s [Biden’s] running for re-election.”

Meanwhile, Nadler, 75, also a 30-year House member, wouldn’t commit to backing Biden’s re-election in 2024, saying he was focusing on his race and 2022 midterm elections to deflect from answering the question.

Patel was the only candidate who unequivocally backed Biden’s re-election in last week’s debate.

Attorney Suraj Patel
Attorney Suraj Patel was the only candidate who backed Biden’s re-election.
AP/Mary Altaffer
New York's 12th Congressional District Democratic primary debate
Errol Louis moderated as Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Jerry Nadler, and attorney Suraj Patel debate during New York’s 12th Congressional District Democratic primary debate on Aug. 2.
AP/Mary Altaffer

Patel on Tuesday night in round 2 said their gaffe was a gift to Republicans and put Democrats on the defensive.

“Democrats across the country are being asked about President Biden’s future thanks to the comments made by two people on this stage with decades of experience,” Patel, 38, said.

Patel, meanwhile, seized the moment to gush effusively about the wildly unpopular Biden, calling his domestic legislative accomplishments the most accomplished since President Lyndon Johnson.

But Tuesday night, both Maloney and Nadler all but begged for forgiveness from their party’s standard bearer, praising Biden and saying they supported his re-election.

It’s still unclear whether Biden, 79, will run, even though Maloney insisted he has said he will.

Maloney and Nadler hold key committee chairmanships. Maloney heads the oversight committee and Nadler the judiciary.

They both leaned on that to claim that veteran experience and seniority in Congress is irreplaceable and insisted they have plenty left in the tank to be effective legislators, despite their age.

Nadler, who stumbled during his opening remarks during last week’s debate, was sharper Tuesday night.

Nadler said Patel coming in a freshmen legislator couldn’t match his clout or that of Maloney, and New York would be hurt if he wins.

“In Congress, seniority brings clout. That clout gets you the ability to pass legislation and to bring resources to the state,” Nadler said. “Losing one committee chairman would be unfortunate for New York. Losing two committee chairman would be catastrophic.”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney
Rep. Carolyn Maloney recanted her Biden statement and claims she supports his reelection.

Said Maloney, “We are in dangerous, perilous times. We need experienced people who know how to fight and win during these perilous times. This is not a time for rookies. This is time for our best team going forward.”

The Democratic Party’s unforced gerrymandering debacle has left it with two congressional heavyweights — Maloney and Jerrold Nadler — vying for the same House seat.

The courts ruled earlier this year that the Democratic lawmakers engaged in illegal partisan gerrymandering to win more congressional seats and threw out their redistricted maps. Republican critics derisively called the illegally drawn redistricting the “Hochulmander” because Gov. Kathy Hochul approved it.

A court-assigned special master tasked with fixing the maps merged Nadler’s Upper West Side base with Maloney’s Upper East side turf as part of a new 12th Congressional

Nadler immediately announced he would run in 12th CD against Maloney instead of his redrawn 10th district, which no longer included the Upper West Side and took in new neighborhoods in Brooklyn he had never represented.

Patel is the third candidate in the race, a dark horse looking to pull of an upset against the two septuagenarians who’ve served in the House since the early 1990s.

In other topics in the hour-long debate, all three candidates said they would support providing more federal funds to the NYPD and backed packing the U.S. Supreme Court with as many as 13 justices following its bombshell decision to overturn previous rulings establishing a federal right to abortion.

Suraj Patel , Carolyn Maloney and Nadler, democratic primary debate for congress
The three candidates during the second debate for the Democratic primary for Manhattan’s 12th Congressional District.

The three candidates also declared that they support the MTA’s controversial congestion pricing proposal for drivers in Manhattan to finance $15 billion in upgrades and improvements for buses, subways and the commuter railroads.

While they dismissed calls to delay the program, they also all committed to pushing the state-run transit monolith to provide a special tolling rate or other carveouts for residents in the district, which includes much of the tolling zone.

“Absolutely not, we’ve been talking about congestion pricing for many years,” said Nadler. “It should have been done a decade ago.”

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