Rep. Mike Honda wearing boxing gloves at a press conference Thursday in Newark. PHOTOS/Steven Tavares

CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | If Ro Khanna is moving to the right, Rep. Mike Honda is choosing to stick with the seniors on the left, precisely those concerned by attempts to whittle away more benefits from the Republican-controlled House. Wearing a pair of boxing gloves given to him by the director of the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare, Honda furthered a line of attack to paint Khanna, also a Democrat, as amendable to cuts to their monthly benefits.

Honda addressing a group of seniors at its
campaign office in Newark.

Honda, though, despite the gloves, did not attack Khanna during the press conference in Newark, but Max Richtman, who heads the advocacy group, questioned Khanna’s allegiance to Social Security and Medicare. “I worry about his opponent’s positions,” said Richtman of Khanna. “I can’t quite put my finger on what his positions are because he’s pretty vague about them.”

Richtman also referenced Khanna’s connections to campaign contributors, some, he said, have shown a willingness in the past to back privatization of Social Security. “I’m troubled by the company he keeps. They have a reputation,” said Richtman. “When you have that kind of support coming from those quarters, you owe those supporters something.”

The impetus for today’s event runs in tandem with a recent television ad from Honda’s campaign which reiterates Khanna’s link to wealthy Silicon Valley contributors, in addition, to suggestions Khanna’s election could threaten some entitlement benefits for seniors. In addition, a recent independent poll showed the race in the 17th District is tightening with Honda leading Khanna by only two points with two weeks to go until Election Day.

Khanna’s campaign, however, has fought back against the assertion regarding Social Security and Medicare, by labeling the attack as “100 percent baseless,” and calling for an “honest conversation” on the issue. “How are we going to make sure that we have no cuts in Social Security benefits and strengthen Social Security, but be honest about its solvency?” Khanna has said.

Richtman’s group has consistently given Honda a perfect score on its annual rankings of congress members and their votes on legislation maintaining or increasing entitlements to seniors. Richtman has recently been traveling the country to help other Democrats in tough races, including New Hampshire, Alaska, Nebraska and Illinois, he said.

Incidentally, today’s photo opportunity featuring boxing gloves to depict the candidate as a fighter for their cause is not unique. Earlier this week, Richtman also presented gloves to New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is also in a tough race for re-election.