MADISON, Wis. — Sen. Ron Johnson and former Sen. Russ Feingold met for their second, and final, debate Tuesday before their U.S. Senate race rematch. Here are some highlights from the 90-minute face-off.
TRUMP VS. CLINTON: Both candidates defended their party’s presidential nominees. Johnson said both he and Donald Trump are change agents, while Feingold said Hillary Clinton is not perfect, but he stands by his assessment that she is honest and trustworthy.
BUSINESSMAN VS. POLITICIAN: Johnson said his career helping to build a plastics manufacturing business in Oshkosh makes him more keenly aware of what Wisconsin working people are looking for out of Washington. “I am the working man,” Johnson said. He tried to brand Feingold as an out-of-touch career politician. But Feingold said it was him, not Johnson, who knows best what people in Wisconsin want and it’s a higher minimum wage, relief for high student loan debt and other initiatives Johnson has worked against.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE: Johnson ripped the campaign finance law known as McCain-Feingold — Feingold’s signature accomplishment from his 18 years in the Senate. Johnson called it a “spectacular failure” that “simply didn’t work at all.” Feingold said he remains committed to undoing the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that rewrote much of the campaign finance law, and said Johnson has benefited from the current system and because of that has done nothing in the Senate to improve it. Johnson said, “I am beholden to no special interest.”
IMMIGRATION: Feingold called for immigration reform that will prove a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million immigrants here illegally, while Johnson said that can’t happen before the border is secure. As for whether he agrees with Trump on the need to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, Johnson said: “You need better fencing, you don’t need a 1,700-mile wall.”
SUPREME COURT: Feingold said Johnson’s refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office. Johnson said he would only vote to confirm judges, not “liberal activists,” and any vote on Garland should wait until there is a new president and Senate in place.
MINIMUM WAGE: Feingold reiterated his support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, while Johnson said he would be OK with indexing a minimum wage increase tied to the rate of inflation.