Politics & Policy

Wisconsin Senate Debate — Liveblog

Wisconsin Senate Debate — Sen. Russ Feingold (D) vs. Ron Johnson (R)

Question: Healthcare reform. What is your stand?

J — Incredibly expensive. Designed as gov’t take over. Sen. Feingold wants this. America has the finest system in the world. Would destroy this. I support repeal.

F — Not what the bill does. Does the bill really invade freedom? Lists bill’s popular provisions. “Does it really invades people’s freedom?”

Question: Do you believe that global warming is real? Imagined? Man-made?

F — Scientist say it real and man’s activity has something to do with. Johnson attributes it to sun spots. He says we should do nothing. I couldn’t disagree more. We should do whatever we can withing reason. Cap and trade was too harsh. We have to do something. Make sure we don’t “laugh this off.”

J — Don’t believe this is settled science. So we shouldn’t tax energy. That would destroy jobs. Energy bills would rise. Shouldn’t rule out the sun’s effect.

Question: What specifically do you propose to move America towards energy independence?

J — “All of the above energy policy.” Most green energy is nuclear. Japan, France use much more than US. Huge job creator. Drill responsibly for oil in ANWAR, Gulf.

F — I agree. We still need oil, coal. Exciting alternatives. Wind turbines. If not for stimulus package, alternative energy companies couldn’t survive.

Question: How would you break partisan logjam in Washington?

F– This is where the independence comes from. I voted for Justice Roberts. I voted for John Aschroft. A lot of Dems were mad a me for that. “I’m one of the most bi-partisan people in the Senate” We need more bi-partisanship in Washington.

J — All I can do is talk about my career and experience. I have a record of working with others in business. Career politicians have not been getting the job done. Health-care bill was a completely partisan effort.

Question: Where do you stand on the Tea Party movement?

J — I sprang out of the Tea Party. People are concerned about out of control spending and debt. That’s why I’m doing this. Concerned about size of government. Government control over our lives. I believe in less government. Feingold wants government control of our lives. Deficits have exploded under Democrats. I share Tea Party’s concerns.

F — People in Tea Party value the Constitution. I voted against Patriot Act, free trade agreements because they violated Constitution. Tea Party should remember, Johnson would be one of 70 millionaires in Congress. I bring “economic diversity” to the Senate.

Follow-up: Views on 2nd Amendment?

F — 2nd Amendment a passion of mine. I have no confusion about this. Johnson has flip-flopped.

J — Staunch defender of 2nd Amendment. Endorsed by NRA. Feingold voted for anti-gun Supreme Court justices. Correct the record — I’ve read the Constitution many times before, 4 or 5 times to prepare for Senate race.

Question: What to do with Social Security?

J — We’ve made promises to seniors. Congress has spent the money. I will protect Social Security. I ask young people about it, they don’t think it will be there for them. There is a receptive environment for real reform. All options on the table. I would never mandate privatization.

F — Johnson has been very clear, ‘everything’s on the table’ means privatization. We can’t say “tough luck.” I will stop any form of privatization. The fund is solvent for many years to come. I will not take it away from the current “sacred” promise.

Q: Do you agree with US war policies? When should we end ops in Afghanistan? Continued presence in Middle East?

F — Strongly disagree with President Obama on Afghanistan surge. Need a flexible timetable. A “mistake” to spend millions in Afghanistan.

J — What is in the best interest of America? I don’t see intelligence reports. Obama does. I’ll give him benefit of the doubt. Petreaus “finest general we have.” Feingold putting words in my mouth. Our troops “the finest among us.” I would never undermine their efforts, vote to cut off funding.

Q: Have we done enough to protect against terrorist attacks?

J — I wish we didn’t have the Patriot Act. We are under the threat of terrorism. Obama’s big mistake to remove missile defense shield. That would protect us from Iran. We need a strong missile defense.

F — President doing the best he can. Should not be invading country after country. Work with other nations to find Al-Qaeda them and destroy them. We need a “global vision.” Talk to other people. All options on table to prevent nuclear Iran.

Q: Immigration reform?

F — Bush wanted comprehensive reform. Republicans voted against it. I understand why Arizona did what they did, but we need a federal immigration policy. Not the job of the states.

J — Step one: secure borders. Has to be a two step process. I would always be opposed to amnesty. Enforce laws against employers. Secure borders. Enforce law. Then we can talk reform.

Q: Do you support funding of embryonic stem cell research ?

F — I strongly support all kinds of stem cell research, embryonic = the “best kind.” An attack on Wisconsin businesses. Johnson “out of touch.”

J — “Totally supportive of stem cell research.” But we shouldn’t clone, shouldn’t create life to destroy it.

Q: What is the single one promise voters can hold you to?

J — “I will never vote with my reelection in mind.” Guarantee = address the spending problem.

F — Johnson wants to have it both ways. Spending bad, tax cuts good? Promise to cut wasteful federal spending.

Closing statements:

J — Wisconsin voters have a clear choice. Feingold might have been a deficit hawk, not anymore. Deciding vote on stimulus and healthcare. Voted for budgets, more debt. I am citizen legislator. I know what it’s like to live under rules and regulations imposed by politicians. Know how to create jobs. America is exceptional, make sure it survives, thrives.

F — Which of us will be independent, bipartisan? The answer is obvious. Which candidate is serious of talking specifics of job creation? I have been specific. Johnson has “punted.” Who is on your side? The manufacturer or the guy named number one enemy of Washington lobbyists. “If you will it, I’d like to keep working for you.”

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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