Indiana US Senate debate:

Candidates square off on variety of issues in Westville

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Indiana US Senate debate:

The three candidates running against each other debate topics of public interest on Oct. 8.

The three candidates running against each other debate topics of public interest on Oct. 8.

Photo provided

The three candidates running against each other debate topics of public interest on Oct. 8.

Photo provided

Photo provided

The three candidates running against each other debate topics of public interest on Oct. 8.

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US senatorial candidates Joe Donnelly, Democrat, Mike Braun, Republican, and Lucy Brenton, Libertarian, clashed over partisanship, political experience and topics such as climate change and healthcare during the Oct. 8 U.S. Senate debate on the Westville campus.

Braun, former Indiana House Representative, said that he is a “political outsider” during his opening remarks and that he is fed up “with business as usual” in Washington, D.C

“If you want more of the same, Joe is your guy. If you want people that are really going to fix things, that have done it in the trenches, you ought to try something different,” Braun said.

Donnelly, who was elected to the seat in 2012, detailed his bipartisanship on efforts such as health care, supreme court nominations and military spending. Donnelly highlighted issues that he agreed with President Donald Trump on, such as the building of a wall along the border and a majority of his judicial nominees.

“I support President Trump’s efforts. I want him to be successful because when a president is successful, that means the United States is successful,” Donnelly said.

Brenton said the country needs to focus on three things: protecting human rights and economic liberty and leaving the world a “better place” for children.

“I’m the only reasonable candidate for US Senate, instead of the two bickering old parties,” Brenton said. “They want to tear this country apart, I want to bring our nation together.”

The debate, which was moderated by Anne Ryder, visiting professor at Indiana University and former news anchorwoman in Indianapolis, is the first of two scheduled debates between the candidates before the Nov. 6 voting period.

Kavanaugh Confirmation

In the wake of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s polarizing confirmation to the supreme court, the candidates were asked to share their views on the current division between Democrats and Republicans in Washington.

Donnelly said he voted against Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Sept. 29 because of “concerns about his impartiality” and “judicial temperament.” Donnelly, however, emphasized his role in voting for President Donald Trump’s first supreme court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed in April 2017.

Braun said that Donnelly made the wrong decision to vote along party lines.

“I think what you should have gotten from the recent spectacle there is that the Democrats — including Joe Donnelly — will say or do anything when it comes to their political interest,” Braun said. “It is a blood sport.”

Healthcare Coverage

Donnelly emphasized his voting record on health care and support for the coverage of pre-existing conditions throughout the debate.

“I stand here before you and all of Indiana to tell you that I was the deciding vote that saved coverage for preexisting conditions,” Donnelly said.

Braun cited prior experience with lowering employee’s health care costs as a business owner and said that he “would never be for any replacement of the Affordable Care Act unless it covered pre-existing conditions.”

Brenton said she opposes any government mandate for health care.

“The system must be overhauled and it’s clear that the government is not the one to do that,” Benton said.

Reproductive Rights

Mike Dugan, a student at the University of Notre Dame, asked whether women have a constitutional right to abortion.

Brenton delegated the answer of whether Roe v. Wade is right or wrong to the supreme court.

“If we don’t have freedom in our own bodies to accept or reject any medical care then we don’t have freedom at all,” Brenton said.

Donnelly said that he is pro-life and added that he has strived to not use federal funds for “abortion-riddled services.”

“I believe in a stance that protects all lives,” Donnelly said. “I also believe it’s important that for our moms, for our sisters, for our wives and daughters, that we have exceptions.”

Braun said he is “100 percent pro-life” and touted endorsements from Indiana pro-life groups, before adding that Donnelly “can’t have it both ways.”

Climate Change

Following the publishing of a landmark study by UN climate change scientists, which claimed that the world could face serious pollution-induced consequences by 2040, the candidates responded to questions about the role of government in the prevention of climate change.

Braun said his experience as a business owner allows him to have a realistic perspective on energy independence.

“All of us want clean air and water, but you have to have common sense,” Braun said. “You can’t do what the Democrats did and start picking winners and losers by trying to prop up industries.”

Donnelly said that utilizing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are important for future industries.

“You can’t trust Mike to fight for Lake Michigan. You can’t trust him to fight for our rivers,” Donnelly said. “We have a sacred obligation to our children: to turn over to you a planet and a country and a state that’s cleaner today than when we first found it.”

Brenton called for a global clean up effort, before adding that Hemp should be legalized to combat the use of ethanol and other carbon fuel sources.

The next debate, which is hosted by the Indiana Debate Commission, will talk place on Oct. 30 at the Toby Theater at Newfields in Indianapolis.