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Espaillat Again Criticizes Rangel For Bringing Up Ethnicity In Debate

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel and opponent Adriano Espaillat met for a debate again Wednesday evening, five days after Rangel met with criticism for bringing up Espaillat's ethnicity.

As WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported, the two candidates for the Democratic 13th Congressional primary -- along with a third, the Rev. Michael Walrond -- met for the debate at Lehman College in the Bronx.

Espaillat Again Criticizes Rangel For Bringing Up Ethnicity In Debate

The Rev. Al Sharpton warned Rangel not to talk about race in the contest. But Rangel again brought out a flier from Espaillat's state Senate campaign two years ago.

"It's just a wrong thing to do, however, when you say that someone who talks like you and looks like you have an obligation to vote with you under the threat of being a traitor," Rangel said.

In an earlier debate Friday evening, Rangel, who is seeking a 23rd term, questioned Espaillat's record, saying, "What the heck has he done, besides saying he's a Dominican?"

The comment infuriated some Hispanic voters, and even led to a rebuke by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Espaillat criticized Rangel for bringing up the issue again on Wednesday.

"He continues to bring ethnicity and race into this debate," said the state senator afterward. "I'm here myself to debate about issues."

But Rangel doubled down after the debate.

"Don't you think that's un-American to call someone a traitor? Don't you?" he said.

The primary election is June 24. The winner is widely expected to go onto victory in the general election in November.

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