Barnes takes the battle to Johnson in Wisconsin Senate debate

Johnson is seen as the most vulnerable GOP incumbent senator, about to be reelected in November, and his victory is critical to the way Republicans regain control of the Senate. Despite its recent comeback in the electoral polls, the race in Wisconsin remains tight, with poll averages leading it by 2 to 3 percentage points.

Johnson continued to deny involvement on January 6 that he was involved in a scheme involving a top aide from his office to give former Vice President Mike Pence a fake voter list, emphasizing that he voted to confirm the 2020 election for Biden – thus “no problem” to blame. described as. Johnson had previously planned to contest the confirmation of the election results, but in the end he did not. The Senator has had a hard time keeping his story coherent about what happened on January 6 before.

When asked if Pence did the right thing by approving the election, Johnson replied, “Yes, President Biden is currently president of the United States.”

Johnson has also been smitten by Barnes in past comments in which he suggested that Social Security and Medicare should be eliminated as mandatory spending programs and instead be approved by Congress as discretionary. In fact, Johnson has previously stated that he wants to “turn everything into discretionary spending” – a comment Democrats are chasing.

“Let me be very clear. I want to save Social Security. I want to save Medicare,” Johnson said. “What I’m saying is we have to look at all the spending so we can prioritize. And Social Security will top the Medicare priority list. I never, ever said I would cut it.”

Barnes also sought to repulse Republicans’ attacks, saying his position on bail had been “mischaracterized” and sensationalized in TV commercials. Once as a state legislator, he sponsored a bill to end cash bail in Wisconsin.

On Friday, CNN reported that Barnes had in the past signaled his support for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement and reducing police budgets, but stating in a campaign ad that it was a “lie” that he wanted to eliminate ICE and parade law enforcement. In the debate, Johnson acknowledged that Barnes “didn’t necessarily say that word,” but argued that he used “code words” instead.

In the debate, Johnson said he would “support” legislation that would reform the Election Census Act, a centuries-old law that former President Donald Trump’s supporters have tried to manipulate to keep him in the White House. The bill would clarify the role of the vice president in approving electoral votes.

The Senator was previously undecided on whether to support the effort, and Johnson consistently downplayed the seriousness of the Capitol attack in the months following January 6, 2021. House recently passed its own version of the bill—but the broader, more sweeping bipartisan measure passed the Senate Rules committee before the house was adjourned in late September. It is still unclear whether the legislation will be brought to the agenda when MPs return after the midterm exams.

When asked about his stance on abortion, Johnson said the matter should be left to the states rather than to be decided at the federal level. However, this proved difficult in Wisconsin, where the Republican-controlled state legislature refused to take over the Democratic Government. The constitutional amendment Tony Evers proposed to pave the way for allowing voters to vote on restoring abortion rights in the state. A law outlawing abortion in 1849 passed the clinics in Wisconsin, Roe v. After the Wade case was dropped, it led her to stop providing abortions, except in situations where the mother’s life was threatened.

On climate change, Johnson expressed his skepticism at “spending hundreds of billions of dollars on solving an unsolvable problem.”

“The climate has always changed and will always change. That’s why I don’t deny climate change. The question is, can you really do anything about it?” He also said, referring to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances found in water and soil throughout the country, “I suggested that the EPA focus on these pollutants, which are really harmful, rather than focusing on CO2.”

Barnes’ aggressive stance during the debate comes as Wisconsin Democrats become increasingly concerned about his election chances. One of his main rivals urged him this week to fire his media consultant. Other Democrats have privately criticized campaign mistakes, such as when two law enforcement officials removed their names from the endorsement list after one said he didn’t support him and another said he supported him but didn’t realize he would run. such a list.

Barnes tried to change the conversation from crime to abortion, starting her first negative point against Johnson this week by focusing on this issue. It also announced that it had raised more than $20 million in its most recent fundraising quarter.

Senate candidates in North Carolina also faced off in a debate on Friday. At the event, Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd refused to weigh their respective parties’ potential 2024 presidential candidates. While President Joe Biden is running for re-election, Beasley said he “didn’t think he would ask me”, while Budd said he was “exclusively focused” on his own Senate race, not whether Trump would run again in 2024.

Beasley, who did not appear on the campaign trail with Biden, pressed on whether to campaign with him. “Welcome here,” he said, but “we’ll have to see if that’s available.”

Both candidates said they would accept the results of the 2022 election, a point of contention with GOP candidates across the country. Budd, who voted against confirming the 2020 election, said Biden “is president” when asked if he was legitimately elected, but defended the vote from January 2021 following the Capitol riot.

“The essence of the vote was to inspire more discussion because I think debate is healthy for democracy, so it led to that,” he said. “I stand behind that vote.”

The pair also differed on abortion, inflation and immigration.

Elena Schneider contributed to this report.

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