MADISON, Wis. (AP) – A Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor backed by Donald Trump, a former two-term lieutenant governor endorsed by dozens of lawmakers and a state official pushing for decertification of presidential election results of 2020 state broadly agreed on most issues in their first debate on Sunday,
The debate between Trump-backed Tim Michels, Rebecca Kleefisch and State Rep. Tim Ramthun took place just over two weeks before the Aug. 9 primary. A Marquette University Law School poll last month showed Michels and Kleefish in a close race, with the winner advancing to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Takeaways from Sunday’s debate:
DECERTIFICATION OF THE 2020 ELECTION
Even though Michels is backed by Trump, who continues to push for decertification of his Wisconsin loss, Michels said he won’t pursue that as governor. Kleefisch also said she would not try to decertify President Joe Biden’s victory, a move Republican lawyers and legislative leaders have repeatedly said is unconstitutional and cannot be made.
“It’s not a priority,” Michels said of the decertification. “My priorities are election integrity, crime reduction and education reform. … I have to focus on beating Tony Evers this fall and that’s what we’re going to do.
Kleefisch said she believes the 2020 election was “rigged,” but would not try to decertify the results.
Ramthun, who based his candidacy on decertification, was the only one to say he would try.
“I’m surprised to be the only one,” he said.
Biden’s victory in the state withstood two partial recounts, numerous lawsuits, a nonpartisan audit, scrutiny by a conservative law form and an investigation by a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. hired by the Republicans. None of the candidates presented new evidence on Sunday of widespread fraud.
All of the candidates support an 1849 Wisconsin law banning abortion that went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. This law provides only one exception to protect the life of the mother.
Kleefisch, noting that she is the only woman in the race, said she does not support any further exemptions, but also that “miscarriage care and treatment for ectopic pregnancy are not an abortion”.
Ramthun said he would emphasize adoption as an option for women with unplanned pregnancies, while Michels said he would strengthen counseling and other services to help such women.
INSIDER versus OUTSIDE
Kleefisch, who served eight years as lieutenant governor under Scott Walker, touted his experience in his administration, citing the passage of Bill 10 that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public servants.
She called herself an “effective and conservative reformer,” noting that she had four statewide victories. This includes a recall election in 2011.
Michels, who along with his brothers co-owns the state’s largest construction company, Michels Corp., touted his experience as an outsider and said he would “shake Madison.”
“I’m sure there’s a lot of fraud, abuse and inefficiency in government,” he said. “I will find it, I know how to do it.”
He also took a subtle jab at Kleefisch, without mentioning her by name, in his closing statement.
“If you want to keep politics as usual, vote for the usual politicians,” he said.
Michels was repeatedly asked if he supported giving incentives to an Obama-era program that prevents the deportation of thousands of people brought to the United States, but he did not offer an answer. . People participating in the program are often referred to as “dreamers”. The program is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and moderators refer to it by its acronym DACA.
“Yes or no for DACA students too, incentives?” moderator Charles Benson asked Michels.
“What kind of students?” ” he has answered.
“DACA,” said moderator Shannon Sims.
“DACA? DACA students?” Michels replied. “I want to look into the details of everything before agreeing to anything.”
Ramthun was asked about his comment in March that he wanted to punch Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in the nose after Vos kicked Ramthun out of a meeting related to the 2020 election results. loud applause from the audience and Ramthun said his comments were misinterpreted.
Ramthun said Vos acted like a bully and he said bullies should be punched in the face.
“I didn’t say I wanted to punch him in the nose,” Ramthun said. “I said you should back off and say no.”