Republican U.S. Senate candidates face off in Fort Wayne debate
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — the gloves are off in the Indiana’s heated U.S. Senate race.
Candidates Mike Braun, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita met again Monday in Fort Wayne at the Ramada Conference Center for the penultimate debate ahead of next month’s primary.
In an election where the candidates agree on most issues, the goal for those three men was to stand out at the night’s event hosted by Allen County’s Republican Party.
“I am the only one on stage tonight that has never voted to raise your taxes,” said Rokita during the debate.
That was one of the milder jabs Rokita threw at his opponents during the 90-minute long forum.
It came after the second question of the night: what distinguishes the candidates from each other?
Rokita pressed his commitment to conservative values, while Braun said he was the true “outsider” of the group because he was running on his business record.
“You’re going to need to send somebody there that has done something in the real world that is going to contrast with what the problem has been,” said Braun.
Messer looked to set himself apart from the competition by claiming authenticity.
“I am who I say I am,” said Messer. “I’m a pro-life, pro-second amendment conservative who supports President Trump.”
Messer went on to explain to the room filled with hundreds of Republican voters, the other two candidates aren’t genuine.
“Hoosiers see through it, they understand that a Harvard Democrat is not a champion for Hoosier conservative values,” Messer said about Braun.
Braun shot back calling Messer and Rokita career politicians and echoing the sentiment of his campaign ads against them.
“I’ve had to put up with politicians and bureaucrats and these two voted 95 percent of the time and they’ve been part of the problem,” said Braun.
Rokita responded calling out Braun’s history in public office and raising taxes.
While each candidate was given time to rebut the allegations made by their opponents, the panel shifted the debate to current events.
In light of recent deadly school shootings, the candidates were asked if enough is being done in Congress on gun control.
All three said they wish to protect the second amendment but would work to find solutions for increasing security in schools.
While Messer and Braun agreed with Pres. Trump’s idea to arm teachers, Rokita says that decision should be made at the local level.
Agreeing with the President was a common theme throughout the debate.
All three men endorsed Trump’s inaction on DACA until a border wall is funded, his displeasure with the Iran Nuclear Deal and his announcement of tariffs on Chinese goods.
The fourth and final debate ahead of the primary will take place in Indianapolis on April 30th.