Immigration, false election claims get the spotlight in GOP U.S. Senate debate
The Republican candidates vying for one of Ohio's U.S. Senate seats met Monday night at Central State University for their final debate before the May primary. Much of the debate revolved around immigration, former President Trump and false claims about the 2020 election.
State Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), investment banker Mike Gibbons, former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, businessman Neil Patel, entrepreneur Mark Pukita, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken and author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance took the stage at Central State University, one of Ohio's historically Black colleges.
In her opening statement, former Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken described herself as a mom on a mission.
“We’ve got a lot of show horses in this race but I’m the workhorse who will lead with grit and grace. President Trump asked me to take over the Republican Party and I delivered Ohio for President Trump,” Timken said.
Most of the candidates praised many of Trump’s policies. Gibbons said when it came to immigration, he’d finish Trump’s wall.
“I think one of the things that has to happen is to finish the wall because they are coming through the cracks. If there were no cracks, they couldn’t get through. Once they step on our soil, they are entitled to due process. We’ve got to change the law. I believe if the president announced if you come here, you will have no path to citizenship in this country if you came here illegally, that would stop an awful lot of this. We need to finish the wall. We need to secure the border and we need to enforce the law," Gibbons said.
Vance took that one step further saying illegal immigrants were getting social benefits.
“Stop giving welfare to people who come to this country illegally. A lot of the reason that we have non-stop border crossings is because people know we are a generous country. We always should be a generous country. But that generosity should only extend to people who have followed our laws, not to people who have broken them,” Vance said.
Trump has not endorsed anyone in this race. And Patel said even though he likes Trump’s policies, he’s not expecting his endorsement.
“I don’t think he’s going to endorse anyone and I don’t think I’m going to get an endorsement from him as well,” Patel said.
When it comes to the 2020 election and President Trump, Mandel echoed the sentiments of all but one of the candidates on stage.
“But I want to say it very clearly, for all of the RINO’s and media elites out there, the 2020 election was stolen from Donald J. Trump,” Mandel said.
The only candidate who didn’t think the election was stolen was Dolan. He said he thought the other candidates were too focused on Trump.
“There are people up on this stage who are literally fighting for one vote and that person doesn’t even vote in Ohio. And that concern for that one vote doesn’t end on Election Day. My responsibility is to be the senator from Ohio for Ohio,” Dolan said.
After the event, Pukita railed on reporters after the debate for the questions that were asked and the numerous fact checks made during the debate by the moderator, Ohio Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler.
“This fact-checking is just nonsense. The fact-checkers are actually helping to spew and support lies and we have got to be done with it. I think Americans are smart enough to know when they’ve been hoodwinked," Pukita said.
This is the last scheduled debate for the Republican US Senate candidates before the May primary.
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