Johnson, Feingold disagree sharply in debate
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) — The final debate between Sen. Ron Johnson and Democrat Russ Feingold has been a spirited one.
Johnson and Feingold sat next to one another for 90 minutes Tuesday, fielding questions on everything from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to the best way to fight opioid abuse in Wisconsin.
Feingold accuses Johnson of not doing enough as senator to tackle issues such as fighting terrorism, immigration reform and campaign finance laws.
Johnson says as a businessman he is more in touch with what Wisconsin residents want, while Feingold is a career politician who thinks problems can be solved with more government programs.
One of the biggest disagreements came over immigration reform and border security.
Johnson says the border must be secured before any comprehensive immigration reform to deal with the roughly 11 million people here illegally now. While presidential nominee Donald Trump has campaigned on building a wall, Johnson says “You need better fencing, you don’t need a 1,700-mile wall.”
But Feingold says there needs to be comprehensive immigration reform and it’s bad for Wisconsin’s dairy industry and other businesses without finding a path to citizenship for the people here illegally.
Feingold says when Johnson was elected in 2010 “he came in with the tea party and they just shut it down.”
Johnson says once the border is secure, immigrants here who aren’t in trouble with the law will be treated with “real humanity.”
Feingold accused Johnson of not doing his job in the Senate. He says Johnson doesn’t have specific ideas on numerous issues and hasn’t acted to fight terrorism or deal with the refugee crisis in Syria.
Johnson says Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid blocks Republican proposals. He says Democrats are “obstructionists.”
But Feingold said, “Harry Reid can’t stop you from introducing a bill.”
The two also sparred over the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
Feingold says Johnson’s blocking of a confirmation vote to put Garland on the high court disqualifies him from office.
Johnson has joined with Republicans in blocking Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. Johnson says he wants to wait until after the election to consider the nomination so voters can elect a new Senate and president.
Feingold says that is wrong and the Senate should act now to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Feingold says Scalia would be “horrified” to see the Senate not holding hearings on a replacement.
Johnson says he would only confirm judges, not “liberal activists.”
The two candidates also defended the top of their party’s presidential tickets.
Johnson says both he and Donald Trump are “change agents.” Johnson stood by his support for the Republican presidential nominee.
Johnson says he believes he and Trump are “on the right side of the issues” like fighting terrorism and the type of judges who would be appointed to the Supreme Court.
Johnson says he has parted with Trump on several issues. Johnson said, “I don’t think the election is rigged,” contrary to comments Trump has made.
Feingold says Trump is irresponsible and would destabilize the world order if he’s elected president. Feingold says Hillary Clinton is “not perfect” but “she’s so much better than Donald Trump.”
Johnson says “I think the American people are looking for dramatic change. Our nominee is a change agent. I’m a change agent.”
The debate came three weeks before Election Day.
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