State News

Johnson, Feingold spar over presidential endorsements, student debt

The candidates went back and forth over gun control, ISIS, police violence, paid family leave, social security, energy and affordable education within the UW System.

Image By: Photos by Drew Gilmore and Katie Scheidt

In a refreshing bout of civil discourse missing from the presidential race, the Wisconsin candidates for U.S. Senate debated the issues and discussed solutions in Green Bay Friday.

Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is vying for the senate seat after losing his spot to incumbent Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in 2010. Feingold, who leads Johnson in the recent Marquette Law Poll by two percent, framed himself as the candidate with clear-cut solutions and listed them throughout the night. Johnson drew a deep divide between Feingold and “his party,” arguing his private-sector focus helps citizens more than his opponent’s government focus.

The night began by addressing presidential endorsements. Asked if he would continue supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Johnson confirmed his support while simultaneously distancing himself.

"I've supported areas of agreement but I've not been shy about disagreeing with our candidate and I'm not going to defend the indefensible," Johnson said. This, he said, is in contrast to Feingold, “who must be about the last American that believes that Hillary Clinton is trustworthy.”

Challenging him, Feingold said, “you have to be an American first,” and “supporting Donald Trump is completely irresponsible.”

Moving on to the issues, the candidates went back and forth over gun control, ISIS, police violence, paid family leave, social security, energy and affordable education within the UW System.

While Feingold said he supports “common sense background checks,” Johnson blamed the root problem on ISIS inspiring “lone-wolf activity,” as seen at the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

“Gun control is not the answer, defeating ISIS is,” Johnson said.

After criticism from Johnson over ISIS, Feingold called for a bipartisan bridge, saying this issue is “beyond politics.”

“This should be when we talk to each other as friends and try figure out what are we going to do to destroy this organization,” Feingold said.

Both expressed dismay over the rising cost of college. Johnson said new government programs are unnecessary, but he does “support whoever wants to have a college education.”

Feingold criticized Johnson as vague, fiercely defending young people who he said face a “denial of the American Dream” and vowing to fix the problem.

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