Daniel Gade, the Republican challenging Mark Warner for his Senate seat in Virginia, said in an interview with 8News in Richmond that he’s “willing and ready” to engage on issues that other Republicans may have avoided in past state elections.

Gade, a professor at American University and a retired Army lieutenant colonel who had his leg amputated after being wounded in Iraq, will face an array of challenges in order to unseat Warner.

Warner, a former Virginia governor, is seeking a third term in the Senate and serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in a state where Republicans have not won a statewide race in over a decade.

According to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, Warner has raised over $10 million for his campaign, a significant difference between the figure — almost a million — Gade has been able to raise.

After his primary victory, Gade challenged Warner to five debates across the state ahead of November’s election. The challenge from Gade came after Warner issued his own to the eventual winner of the primary, which Gade won handily.

Warner challenged his Republican opponent to three debates, including one specifically focused on racial equality and justice that the senator wants to be held at one of the state’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Gade spoke with 8News on a variety of topics, including Congress’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, recent protests and unrest across the country, Confederate monuments in Virginia, his race against Warner and what his plans are if elected. You can find and watch his responses, including edited and condensed excerpts, below:

Discussing Congress’ coronavirus response, what he feels can be done to improve the economy during the pandemic and why unemployment is “dangerous”

Clearly, we need to get the economy open again. As fast as possible and as safely as possible. We need to protect those who are vulnerable while allowing the rest of us to go back to work.

What he likes and doesn’t like about the CARES Act

We saw a couple things that were really good. So, the paycheck protection plan is fine. The skeleton of the CARES Act is fine, in the sense that what we ought to be doing is using some of that federal power and money to bridge the gap between where we were at the end of January and sort of where we are now.

As the pandemic hit, it’s totally appropriate to use some of that money, or some of that ability, to dampen out the bad effects of this. But what we saw from, particularly the Democrats, you know, Republicans share a, a, some blame here too but particularly the Democrats what we saw was an attempt to, to basically load up the grocery cart with a bunch of stuff we don’t need.

On why he feels changing the country’s approach to healthcare in response to the pandemic could be a mistake and looking at what parts of Obamacare work instead of dismantling it

First, we ought be protecting people with preexisting conditions and we ought to be empowering the free market to make most of these choices. So things like health savings accounts, things like price transparency, things like prescription drug, um basically, approval reform, will drive down prescription drug cost.

On the activism in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, his fears that the movement is being “hijacked,” thoughts on what comes next and issues he has with calls to defund the police

I’m 100 percent on board with the idea of peacefully protesting for societal change. That’s in the First Amendment, the right to speech. It’s protected by the First Amendment that is to say. It’s the right to speech and assembly, all of that is as American as apple pie.

Sharing the steps he believes Congress can take to reform policing in America and how qualified immunity and unions can protect “bad apples”

But, fundamentally there’s a couple of things we can do. One is, we need to have some criminal justice reform that makes sense that is measured and thoughtful. Number two is, we need to look at qualified immunity, which is this doctrine that basically let’s, sometimes let’s bad cops off with, you know, on a technicality kind of, created by the courts years ago.

I think we ought to be looking at whether or not police unions are protecting bad apples because that’s part of what public sector unions do, and we’ve seen this in the VA, we’ve seen this in police, we’ve seen this in public teacher unions where bad apples are protected by the union itself. So, there’s some real opportunity for union reform.

On Sen. Warner’s challenge for a debate on racial equality and justice at one of Virginia’s HBCUs

I welcome that idea and I hope that our, I hope his campaign will respond to our challenge for five debates and then we can have a discussion about the HBCU debate. I’m thrilled to have that debate.

On the removal of Confederate monuments in Virginia, his suggestion on where to put the Lee statue and placing history “in its proper context”

Gettysburg has Confederate monuments all over the place, but they’re in the right context because that was a battlefield where the confederates and the union fought and ultimately the Confederacy was defeated there. So, I think that’s an approach that ought to make both sides happy. Put those Confederate monuments in their proper context. But the fact that they’re there, right where they are right now, is causing, I think it’s part of the flashpoint that we’re seeing and the governor has the authority to do something about this and I hope he will.

RELATED: A conversation with Sen. Mark Warner on COVID-19, a second stimulus package, health care and his race against Daniel Gade

NSU and its Center for African American Public Policy (CAAmPP) has partnered with WAVY-TV 10The Virginia Bar Association, and Visit Norfolk to host the university’s first United States senatorial debate.

The 90-minute debate between Sen. Mark Warner and challenger Dr. Daniel Gade  will stream on WAVY.com and on WAVY-TV 10’s Facebook Live channel and on the University’s radio station, WNSB-FM 91.1. at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3.

WAVY-TV 10 will air the recorded debate on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

The debate will be moderated by WAVY-TV 10 journalists Anita Blanton and Regina Mobley.

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