Mike Lee-Evan McMullin debate: What Senate candidates from Utah said

The U.S. Senate debate between incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee and independent Evan McMullin took place in front of a live audience at the Ragan Theater at Utah Valley University. It is the only scheduled debate between the two ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Ballots will begin to be mailed out Tuesday.

Doug Wright, a former KSL NewsRadio host, moderated the debate.

The following are highlights from the debate:

What is one thing you would take with you to Utah?

Its. Mike Lee: “Stop excessive federal spending. … I have stood up to my party time and time again to oppose reckless spending. I will do it again and again and again. We need people to say ‘no’ because when Washington only want to spend money, they spend it at your expense.”

Evan McMullin: “The reality is we have to send people to Washington who are willing to stand up to both Republicans and Democrats in the White House who are guilty of reckless spending because the administration before Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s, was guilty in the same.”

Did Joe Biden Fairly Win the 2020 Presidential Election?

Mike Lee: “Yes, Joe Biden is our president. He was elected in the only election that matters, the Electoral College election. That was the basis on which I voted to confirm the election results. … As to whether there were errors, whether some states could have conducted their elections better than others, there is always room for debate and questions about that.”

Evan McMullin: “Well, I certainly think it’s important that we protect the rights of voters and we protect the peaceful transfer of power, Senator Lee. But for you to talk about the importance of the Electoral College, I think, is rich. I think you know exactly how important it is, and I think you knew how important it was when you tried to encourage the White House that had lost an election to find fake voters to overturn the will of the people . . Sen. Lee, it was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s constitution in its history by a United States senator, I believe, and that will be your legacy.”

Late. Mike Lee’s rebuttal: “Evan, that’s not true. You know it’s not true. You, sir, owe me an apology.”

How do you characterize the events that happened on January 6 at the US capitol?

Evan McMullin: “It was a violent rebellion with the intention of overthrowing the American republic. … You told the president that you worked over — 14 hours a day, I think you said — to unravel this for him. Keeping a president who had been voted out of office by the will of the people in power, despite the will of the people. Late. Lee, this is treason against the American Republic.”

Its. Mike Lee: “I think I disagree with everything my opponent just said, including the words ‘but’, ‘and’ and ‘the’. That was an information-free, truth-free statement, that’s quite a record. There’s absolutely nothing about the idea that I would have ever supported, ever supported the fake voter plot. Nothing. There is not even a glimmer of evidence to suggest that. Yet you continue to insist on it with a cavalier, reckless disregard for the truth. This is sad. It’s troubling. It’s also completely consistent with your adopted political party.”

Evan McMullin: “Sen. Lee, you know I’m not a Democrat. But you’re not concerned about that. You’re concerned about the fact that I’m an independent and that I’m building a bipartisan coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents and members of third parties to replace you and stand up to your broken policy…”

Its. Mike Lee: “The words of the Constitution matter. I have followed the words. You are twisting the truth. And you should be ashamed of yourself.”

What solutions do you have to the student loan crisis?

Its. Mike Lee: “The first and best thing the federal government could do in terms of student loans is get out of the student loan business. It has no business there.”

Evan McMullin: “I still think the federal government has a role to play, especially for low-income students or for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford higher education, but it has contributed to the worst kind of inflation in higher education, and we need to reform it to bring prices down.”

Do you continue to support Social Security and Medicare?

Evan McMullin: “I do. I believe that Social Security and Medicare are important elements of our social fabric in America. I will work with anyone who wants to secure the future of our seniors. I think the biggest challenge right now is our fiscal irresponsibility in this country, and again I’m talking about both parties.”

Its. Mike Lee: “We’ve seen the danger of putting this power in the federal government. … Yes, we have to honor those things. And we also have to reform them to make it harder for Congress to plunder seniors’ money.”

Who do you feel bears most of the responsibility for the higher prices?

Its. Mike Lee: “(Milton Friedman) said in the United States that inflation has only one cause. It’s federal spending. Reckless, excessive federal spending. … We thought it was too much cowbell before. They gave it 10 times the cowbell.”

Evan McMullin: “The job of a senator, especially one representing our state, must be to stand up to the leaders of both parties, to Joe Biden and Donald Trump. That’s what’s required, Sen. Lee, because both parties are spending recklessly.”

Its. Mike Lee: “I called (President Trump) out in public and in private, on a train, in the rain, with a fox in a box, every chance I got.”

How will each of you approach foreign policy in the Senate?

Its. Mike Lee: “We need a Republican counter to a president who isn’t all there, to a president that my opponent voted for, a president who has saber-ratcheted and talked about Armageddon under circumstances that are deeply troubling to all of us. “

Evan McMullin: “We need to elect leaders and representatives of this freedom-loving state who will stand up to foreign dictators and not enable them. Sen. Lee, remarkably, you are the only member of Utah’s congressional delegation, he already knows where I’m going , to avoid being blacklisted by Vladimir Putin. That’s an incredible difference.

“You know, there’s a reason that’s because in 2017 Senator Lee was one of only two senators to vote against sanctioning Putin’s regime. Then in 2019 he went to Russia alone and discussed lifting sanctions with him He has repeatedly voted against supporting Ukraine.

Its. Mike Lee: “I voted against the sanctions proposal because it was intertwined in a piece of legislation with some progressive ideology. Maybe you are ok with that. I was not. I voted against.

“As far as going to Russia, I went to Russia at the invitation of my friend, mentor and former boss Jon Huntsman, who was then the US ambassador to Russia. I did it because I needed to stand up for religious freedom. We had had missionaries and other Americans imprisoned for their religious beliefs in Russia and I found that unacceptable and that is why I went there.

“Why they haven’t blacklisted me, I don’t know. I would love to be blacklisted there. I have been banned from China for life. I hope Russia will ban me next time. But for you to suggest, as you have repeatedly done, that I am some kind of fan of Vladimir Putin is completely false and disgraceful.”

How do you think about the legal issues surrounding abortion?

Evan McMullin: “I’m pro-life, and I’ve always believed in the sanctification of life. And I’m against the extremes on both sides of this issue. Those who favor late-term abortion on-demand or those who would demand abortion without exceptions. It I think it’s wrong. This issue divides our country unnecessarily. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Its. Mike Lee: “Now that it’s been returned to the states where it belongs, I think that’s where it belongs, and with a small handful of exceptions that deal with federal funding … that’s where it should stay . Because it is within the states that we can achieve the most consensus and protect the most babies.”

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