ARIZONA NEWS

Here are the topics covered by McSally, Sinema in Senate debate

Oct 15, 2018, 8:19 PM | Updated: 9:02 pm

PHOENIX — U.S. Reps. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema, the two women vying for an open U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, went head-to-head for the first time on Monday.

McSally and Sinema answered a variety of questions during the hour-long debate, tackling issues including health care, border security and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a televised debate.

The lawmaker who was given the question was allowed 90 seconds to answer the question, then the respondent was given 45 seconds for rebuttal, both without interruption. After that, the pair would get two minutes for a discussion.

The questions were from journalists as well as from the public. The debate was televised and streamed online by Arizona PBS and was moderated by “Arizona Horizon” host Ted Simons and Arizona Republic reporter Maria Polletta.

The debate was expected to be “most watched and anticipated political debates in a generation in Arizona,” and for good reason: It could determine which party controls the Senate next year. Arizona has also not sent a Democrat to the Senate since 1988, and has never had a woman senator.

There was not an audience present for the debate, but one well-known Arizona lawmaker was present: Former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods tweeted that he attended the debate in support of Sinema, whom he appeared in a campaign ad for in September.

At the end of the night, both campaigns claimed that their candidate won the debate. Both campaigns also had fact-checking websites, which were utilized throughout the debate.

Jim Bognet, the campaign CEO for McSally, said her “command of the issues and record of getting things done for Arizona was on full display,” while Sinema’s communications director said she “stayed focused on the issues that matter to Arizona families.”

Political analyst Mike O’Neil told KTAR News 92.3 FM Sinema had the upper hand in the debate because of her “poised, quiet demeanor” versus McSally’s loud behavior. He said Sinema was also more likely to woo undecided voters, while McSally played to her base.

Here are the topics that the lawmakers were given and the answers that they responded with, edited for length:


Support of President Donald Trump:

McSally: Said she has never endorsed anyone in any race, but said she does support the president.

Sinema: Pointed to her independent record.

Would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh:

McSally: Said she would have voted to confirm Kavanaugh. “I think what we need to be looking at for justices and judges is that they’re not going to be activists, but they’re going to interpret the Constitution and the laws that we make in Congress the way that they were intended to.”

Sinema: Said she would not have voted to confirm Kavanaugh.

Overturning Roe v. Wade:

McSally: Did not provide an answer, but said she is pro-life.

Sinema: Said the government should not be involved in those decisions.

Strengthening social security and Medicare:

McSally: Said she wants to strengthen Medicare.

Sinema: Said McSally has voted to take those protections away from seniors.

Border security:

McSally: Said she wants to do “something” to give DACA recipients a path to citizenship, but also wants to secure the border.

Sinema: Said she is fine with a “physical barrier” along the U.S.-Mexico border, but added that smart technology is needed to enhance border security.

Zero-tolerance policy that led to families being separated at the border:

McSally: Said it is Congress’ job to fix a law that she claimed justified the family separations.

Sinema: Said we can secure the border without separating families.

Deficit spending:

McSally: Said the economy is “on fire” due to a tax cut bill signed by Trump last year.

Sinema: Said she voted no on that bill.

Climate change and water:

McSally: Said water is of grave concern for Arizona, but switched the topic to military.

Sinema: Said we can address climate change without harming businesses.

McSally also accused Sinema of “treason,” pointing to a CNN report that found that Sinema in 2003 told a radio talk show host she didn’t care if he joined the Taliban. The statement was a brief response at the end of a lengthy hypothetical from the libertarian host who was interviewing Sinema when she was an anti-war activist.

McSally resurrected the comment at the debate’s close and demanded an apology from Sinema.

“Martha has chosen to run a campaign like the one you’re seeing right now,” Sinema responded.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Kathy Cline and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Here are the topics covered by McSally, Sinema in Senate debate