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Ron Johnson and Mandela Barnes attack in final US Senate debate

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes were particularly aggressive in their attacks on each other in Wisconsin’s final U.S. Senate debate ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

The audience was also heavily engaged during an hour-long debate hosted by TMJ4 and Marquette University, despite repeated warnings from moderators to calm down after cheers, laughter and mockery. And from opening remarks to closing statements, Johnson and Barnes were on the offensive and launched multiple personal attacks.

Johnson claims Barnes has “no experience working in the private sector” and suggested the lieutenant governor is an actor who has never created a job. When, at the end of the debate, the moderators asked the two candidates one thing they found admirable about their opponent, Johnson said that Barnes had had a good upbringing before asking why the Democrat “turned against the America”. That comment drew groans and boos from an audience that was notably more supportive of Barnes.

For his part, Barnes attacked Johnson’s position as the former owner of the Pacur plastics company in Oshkosh, stating that Johnson “got married to his company” and even referred to the company as “brother-in-law.” ” from Johnson.

On the issues, here are five key exchanges:

Barnes pointed to the abortion ban bills Johnson has sponsored, while Johnson renewed his call for a referendum

Citing Barnes’ recent comments that he would not legislate a specific timetable in which the life of an unborn child should be protected, moderators asked the lieutenant governor for clarification on his support for any abortion restrictions. . Barnes addressed the issue extensively and reiterated his support for legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade, the now overturned 1973 Supreme Court case that established a right to abortion until fetal viability. Barnes pointed to Johnson’s past support for nationwide abortion ban legislation and a personality bill that he said would ban abortion without exception for rape, incest or life. from the mother.

“And that position is too remote and extreme for Wisconsin,” Barnes said.

Johnson reiterated his call for a single-issue referendum to let Wisconsin residents decide “when” society has a responsibility to protect the unborn child. Such a referendum is not possible without an amendment to the state Constitution and the support of the Republican-led state Legislature, which rejected Democratic Gov. Evers’ call for a broader version. of such an amendment.

“But the extreme position, when it comes to abortion, is the lieutenant governor, who would allow abortions up to the moment of birth. Think about it. That’s not where the people of Wisconsin are,” Johnson said.

Inflation and social security weighed heavily

Candidates were asked what Congress could do to control rising inflation, moderators noting the national consumer price index increased by 8.2% until September.

Johnson blamed Democrats’ “runaway deficit spending” for causing inflation and said members of Congress should have the courage to vote against deficit spending bills, including the “Green New Energy Hustling.” Deal we can’t afford to pay” backed by Barnes.

Moderators followed up and asked the Johnson if anything should be done to reduce housing or gas costs.

“You have to grow our economy, but stop deficit spending and become energy independent and stop the war on fossil fuels,” Johnson said.

Barnes said the way to provide relief for families is a “middle-class tax cut” and making permanent the Child Tax Credit, which was part of the 2021 US bailout stimulus package. The Democrat then pivoted by attacking Johnson for his amendment to the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017 which netted Johnson Dick and Liz Uihlein donors and Diane Hendricks $215 million in deductions in 2018.

“He has no problem gouging a $2 trillion hole in the deficit by voting for the 2017 tax bill that benefited corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Barnes said.

On Social Security, Barnes attacked Johnson’s call to make program spending discretionary, meaning Congress would have to reauthorize funding on an annual basis.

“And when Senator Johnson talks about making Social Security discretionary spending, that means he’s coming for your retirement,” Barnes said.

Johnson has repeatedly said that making Social Security and Medicare spending discretionary is necessary to prevent them and other programs from becoming insolvent due to deficit spending.

“The question is, will we have the financial means to increase benefits to honor these promises?” says Johnson. “That’s what I’m trying to say.”

Candidates clashed over gun violence, incarceration and law enforcement

Candidates were asked what they would say to the parent of a 12-year-old girl who was killed by gun violence in Milwaukee on October 11. Barnes referenced a childhood friend he lost in city shootings and turned to attacking Johnson’s opposition to additional gun laws like universal gun verification. antecedents.

Johnson said he would express sympathy for the loss of the mother and said the broader solution to gun violence is “renewed faith, stronger families and more supportive communities.” He then pivoted and attacked Barnes and Evers’ 2018 campaign pledge to halve Wisconsin’s prison population, saying the duo had supported the release of violent felons and child rapists.

“Keep violent criminals in jail,” Johnson said.

Barnes noted that Johnson supports the First Step Act, which allows federal prisoners early release, and called him a hypocrite for attacking similar policies at the state level.

The moderators also asked if Johnson and Barnes would support ending qualified immunity, which prevents police officers from being held personally liable for constitutional violations such as excessive use of force.

“We should maintain qualified immunity,” Johnson said.

“I support removing qualified immunity, and we need to hold bad actors accountable,” Barnes said.

Johnson denounced ‘open borders’ while Barnes called GOP immigration rhetoric ‘scaremongering’

Candidates were asked if they would work across the aisle to reduce illegal border crossings.

Barnes said he supports comprehensive immigration reform “including a pathway to citizenship” and that the United States should process visa and citizenship applications faster. He attacked Johnson and Republicans for “freaking out” on the immigration issue.

“They just want to scare everyone on this issue when it just makes people’s lives worse and makes people’s lives more difficult and contributes to an inhumane system,” Barnes said.

Johnson blamed the border situation on President Joe Biden and what he called the Democrats’ “open border policy.” He pointed to bipartisan work with moderate U.S. Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona on legislation known as Operation Safe Return “which morphed into returning to Mexico” under the Trump administration that “has had enough Well solved the problem of unaccompanied children and families abusing our asylum laws.”

Johnson also attacked Barnes claiming the lieutenant governor “wants to give illegal immigrants a driver’s license,” implying it’s a ploy to boost Democratic support in the election.

“Well, what do you need to vote?” Johnson asked. “Oh, that would be a driver’s license.”

Johnson claimed FBI ‘set him up’ with ‘corrupt’ Russia briefing

Barnes and Johnson were asked if they would support more federal funding, military aid to Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and possible US intervention if Russia were to attack a NATO country.

“We have to do everything we can short of American boots on the field,” Barnes said.

Barnes said Russian President Vladimir Putin should be held accountable before claiming Johnson had praised the Russian leader and said Johnson had been tipped off by the FBI”that he (Johnson) can be a Russian assetin connection with Johnson’s investigation into the Biden family’s foreign business activities.

Johnson said he supported supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine to defend its territory, but would “like to get a full account of what we have already allocated.”

“And in response to Lt. Governor Barnes’ savage accusation, the FBI gave me a corrupt briefing and then leaked it to smear me,” Johnson said, making the audience laugh.

Political analysts and both campaigns expect the U.S. Senate race from Wisconsin to be close. But in recent weeks, Johnson has taken a lead in the polls.

On Wednesday, Marquette University School of Law released new polling results that found Johnson ahead of Barnes by six percentage points among likely voters. It was the widest lead for the Republican in any survey since the US Senate primary in August.

Five out of six polls released by organizations like CBS News, Fox News also showed Johnson with a one to five percentage point lead in September.


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