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Politics & Government

Republican Senate candidates spar over death penalty and integrity during debate

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Screenshot / Off the Record
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WKAR-TV

Two Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate squared off on Friday. During a debate on WKAR-TV’s Off the Record, Sandy Pensler and John James both said they were the best choice to take on incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, though the candidates mostly focused on each other – not Stabenow – during the debate.

Pensler and James sharply disagreed on the issue of capital punishment. Pensler said he’s okay with the death penalty in extreme cases. But James said it disproportionately affects the poor.

“But the fact of the matter is that I believe that in this country we have to do better and revenge killings, that’s not what we’re about,” said James.

The candidates also sparred over who has the most conservative credentials. Multiple times, they questioned how pro-life and supportive of President Donald Trump the other is. During a heated exchange, Pensler and James attacked each other’s integrity. The fight started when James claimed Pensler said President Donald Trump speaks like a 4th grader, but Pensler said James took the statements out of context.

“Yeah I think it’s more phony John James,” said Pensler. “I was speaking and complementing the president on speaking succinctly and simply.”

Pensler and James are both businessmen, and they did manage to find some things they agree on. Both said a person should not be fired for their sexual identity and neither would abolish labor unions.

So far, this is the only scheduled, televised debate ahead of the August 7 primary.

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