The Republican candidates vying to take on Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin in November debated some hot-button issues Thursday night. The latest Marquette Law School Poll shows State Senator Leah Vukmir and Delafield business executive Kevin Nicholson are locked in a tight race, with less than three weeks to go before the Aug. 14 primary.
Both candidates also agreed on the issues that were presented, and there weren’t any stark differences of opinion.
Each voiced unwavering support for President Trump.
Vukmir said Trump is fulfilling the promises he made during the 2016 campaign. "The liberal elite and the media want nothing more than to bring this president down. I want to see President Donald Trump succeed. When President Trump succeeds, America succeeds."
Vukmir implored voters to give the president time for his trade policies to work.
When asked whether Trump’s tariffs are hurting Wisconsin businesses, Nicholson said no, and pointed to recent developments. “We’re going to be selling more soybeans into Europe now because the EU is in fact coming back to the negotiating table and saying you’re right, we can’t continue to get away with imposing these tariffs."
On the topic of immigration, Nicholson said he supports the president’s travel ban, and said it was not a “Muslim ban.” “This is common-sense, folks," he said. "When you have a war-torn nation, yes, we should be extremely careful about who we’re allowing in from those war-torn nations. That’s all that that ban was.”
Vukmir also voiced support for the president’s tactics, including building a wall. “People are frustrated that they’re bringing crime into this country. We know about MS-13, and the gangs that are coming. All of these things are really creating outrage in Americans."
And the two candidates were unified in how they said they would deal with vacancies on the Supreme Court. President Trump has nominated conservative Judge Brett Kavanaugh, though neither senate candidate mentioned the nominee by name. "I will support a Supreme Court justice who stands for the Constitution. And I hope that that means that he will stand for life, because that is what is in that document. It’s just that simple," Vukmir said.
Nicholson addressed his past as a pro-choice Democrat, but said he is now endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life and other pro-life groups. He said that he, too, would hope for pro-life positions when voting to approve and move forward federal judges and justices. "My expectation for those judges, and I can’t hold any kind of litmus test on them, is that, ultimately they understand that the U.S. Constitution is a pro-life document, and it is folks. It says in there ‘Your rights are given to you by God.' It does not say at what week that begins." He continued, "Scientifically and spiritually I know that life begins at conception."
Besides Vukmir and Nicholson, there are three other Republican candidates in the race – Charles Barman, Griffin Jones and George Lucia. They joined the debate for the final 30 minutes.