(NETWORK INDIANA) The first debate between the three Republican candidates who are running against each other for the chance to run against Democrat Joe Donnelly, in the general election, was in the Emmis Communications lobby in Indianapolis, Tuesday night.
Tony Katz, host of Tony Katz and the Morning New on WIBC, was the moderator and questioned Rep. Luke Messer, Rep. Todd Rokita and businessman and former state representative Mike Braun, on the economy, jobs, taxes and health care.
When asked the first question, about the problem with health care, Rokita and Messer gave similar answers, saying ObamaCare should be repealed, either in pieces or all at once. Braun said he believed he and the people at vhis business had solved the problem for themselves by “deconstructing” the insurance companies.
“We found out how insurance companies made money and we did it for our employees.”
Braun said his employees had not paid any more for health coverage in eight years.
All three candidates said they believe in “Right to Try”, and that people should be in control of their own health care and be allowed to try alternative medicine if they have a terminal illness.
Whether that includes medical pot or CBD oil got different answers.
“I think if you believe in free markets and freedom of choice, the answer is yes,” said Braun.
Rokita said he believes in helping people with medical marijuana, but only if it does not include THC (the chemical that gets you high). He said he does not believe in legalizing marijuana, and called it a gateway drug.
Messer said he also believes marijuana is a gateway drug, and that Indiana and the rest of the U.S. ought to look at Colorado.
“Colorado is a few years into this big experiment. One of my suggestions would be, I’m not sure we have to rush to the front of the line here. But, see what happens in Colorado over time and we’ll be in a better position to judge,” said Messer.
When asked how they would cut down on government spending, each man had trouble at first answering the question, according to Katz, who asked again.
Braun said he would not want to eliminate individual items, but was only in favor of across the board cuts. He said he was not into the deal making of the budget process.
Messer said he believes it’s time to klet the states have a chunk of money for Medicaid and a chunk for food stamps, and let the states administer the programs “more efficiently”.
“I either co-sponsor or I write the bill to eliminate the Dept. of Education,” said Rokita, “because it’s nowhere found in the Constitution, along with several other agencies.” Rokita also said he’d fight to eliminate public broadcasting. “We do not need to have taxpayer funded liberal demagoguery and dogma going over our airwaves and over our cable. If the liberals want to fund their terrible ideas, they should pay for it themselves.”
The debate was one and a half hours long and was sponsored by Americans for Prosperity.
“It was really an attempt to try and outflank each other on the right, while trying to win over the Koch Brothers and their donors,” said Michael Feldman, representing the Indiana Democratic Party, who staged a protest in front of the building.
“All three candidates came out in favor of cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security. Hard working Hoosiers who have paid into this their entire lives and expect it to be there for them, will remember that in November,” said Feldman.
He said the three were more comfortable throwing mud at one another than talking about solutions that help Hoosiers.