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Wisconsin GOP Senate Debate Summary and Live-Blog

I’m on Twit­ter as well.

OPENING STATEMENT SUMMARIES

Fitzger­ald — I’ve made the tough choices which need to be made in Wis­con­sin, and I’ll make them in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

Neu­mann — Why I’m a conservative.

Hovde — We are on the brink of a gov­ern­ment spend­ing bub­ble and we need to do some­thing about it for the future of this country.

Smith — I’ve been in pol­i­tics three months, and we need strong con­sti­tu­tional con­ser­v­a­tives to stand for doing the right thing.

Ques­tion Round 1 — Fitzgerald’s Com­ments on Hovde’s Back­ground as Hedge Fund Guy

Fitzger­ald — I said peo­ple will have a hard time dis­tin­guish­ing what a hedge fund guy was.

Hovde — I’ve never lived on Wall Street and spent most of my time in com­mu­nity banks, not hedge funds.

Ques­tion to Neu­mann — “Cit­i­zens United” quote, was it decided properly?

Neu­mann — Cit­i­zens United (the group) has endorsed me, and if you look at my orig­i­nal answer, I was talk­ing about constitutionality.

Smith — Peo­ple need to hear from their rep­re­sen­ta­tives, as directly as possible.

Ques­tion to Hovde — The Buf­fett Rule, your thoughts?

Hovde — The Buf­fett Rule doesn’t gen­er­ate any real money ($42 Bil­lion over a decade), most small busi­ness­men don’t oper­ate under the type of way Buf­fett makes his money (rev­enue / sales vs. sale of stocks and investments)

Fitzger­ald — The Buf­fet Rule is a purely polit­i­cal ploy.

Ques­tion to Neu­mann and Hovde — Did any of your com­pa­nies get money from TARP or the Stimulus?

Neu­mann — We got tax cred­its which were passed under the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion, we took advan­tage of them.  They were con­tin­ued under the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion and we con­tin­ued to take advan­tage of them.

Hovde — My banks never took one dol­lar of TARP money.

Follow-up Smith — We need to get gov­ern­ment out of the mar­ket and let the free mar­ket do its work again.  Fed­eral money comes with strings attached to them.

Follow-up Fitzger­ald — In the leg­isla­tive ses­sion we passed a num­ber of pro-business bills right off the bat, we need to do this on the global market.

Ques­tion to Fitzger­ald — What do we do with Pakistan?

Fitzger­ald — It’s become a trans­ac­tional coun­try and we need to do what can to stop them from har­bor­ing terrorists.

Follow-up Neu­mann — Any­thing that hap­pens there will effect us here, i.e. gas prices, ter­ror­ism. etc.

Ques­tion to Neu­mann — Term lim­its, you once pro­posed 12 year limit.  Would that hin­der new mem­bers try­ing to get things done?

Neu­mann — We need the expe­ri­ence of the pri­vate sec­tor / busi­ness expe­ri­ence to run the gov­ern­ment, not career politi­cians who are more con­cerned about next election.

Follow-up Neu­mann (Aren’t elec­tions nat­ural term lim­its?) — Yes they are, but the sys­tem is set up to pro­tect incumbents.

Follow-up Hovde — Relays a story about how the inven­tion of the air con­di­tioner has con­tributed to the growth of gov­ern­ment and career politi­cians (It makes liv­ing and being in DC more manageable).

Ques­tion to Smith — Are there any parts of Oba­maCare that have merit, or scrap it all together?

Smith — We have to scrap it all.  Relays how fed­eral man­dates force prices and the inabil­ity for shop­ping around.

Follow-up Fitzger­ald — Enti­tle­ment reform is needed.  Oba­maCare will bank­rupt this country.

YouTube Ques­tion from JoAnne Appling to Neu­mann — How do you strengthen inde­pen­dent, Amer­i­can families?

Neu­mann — I’m a con­ser­v­a­tive through and through.

Follow-up Hovde — We are see­ing a soci­ety move from one which was mak­ers to one of depen­dency.  1 in 10 chil­dren is borne out of wed­lock and we need to stop hav­ing a wel­fare safety net which rewards this behavior.

Ques­tion to Fitzger­ald — Would you sup­port Right to Work legislation?

Fitzger­ald — Yes, states around us are see­ing it and we are see­ing it becom­ing a fac­tor in where busi­nesses want to set up shop.

Follow-up Fitzger­ald (Why wasn’t Right to Work brought up in ses­sion?) — Any time you deal with leg­is­la­tion you have to ask “Are the votes there,” and the votes just weren’t there.  Relays story of being con­grat­u­lated at air­port by guy in Indi­ana over col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing reforms.

Ques­tion to Hovde — Supreme Court Nominees

Hovde — Will they fol­low the Con­sti­tu­tion is my top priority.

Follow-up to Smith — I will not play games (Holds[?]), but will be there to say “You’re not qualified.”

Ques­tion to Neu­mann — How do you mend fences with Walker supporters?

Neu­mann — Was answered day after pri­mary.  I sup­ported and got my sup­port­ers behind Scott Walker and went to that unity break­fast. Top pri­or­ity is mak­ing sure Walker isn’t recalled.

Follow-up to Fitzger­ald, Too linked to Walker? — I would not shy away from what we did in this ses­sion.  We had one of the most suc­cess­ful con­ser­v­a­tive leg­isla­tive ses­sions in state his­tory.  It’s been an honor to serve as speaker with Walker.

Ques­tion to Hovde — Would you sup­port an expe­dited pull-out of Afghanistan?

Hovde — We need to get out.  There’s not rea­son to be there and sac­ri­fice our young men and trea­sure. We have a num­ber of bases in nearby coun­tries to sta­tion troops if things flare up.

Follow-up to Neu­mann — What is the mis­sion in Afghanistan?  POTUS is not act­ing like a Com­man­der in Chief and needs to lay­out a plan.  Won’t give straight “Yes/No” ques­tion on pull­out or not.

Ques­tion to Fitzger­ald — What do we do with the ille­gal immi­grants in this country?

Fitzger­ald — No to amnesty, we have a legal route to cit­i­zen which our grand­par­ents and great-grandparents fol­lowed.  GOP must do bet­ter out­reach to Latino com­mu­ni­ties because they have many shared con­ser­v­a­tive values.

Follow-up to Smith — No to amnesty, but stream­lined, faster path to citizenship.

Ques­tion to Neu­mann — Should rules on Fil­i­busters and “Secret Holds” be reformed?

Neu­mann — No.  I do want a rule to make sure all laws should pass con­sti­tu­tional muster, fil­i­buster allows for that.

Follow-up Fitzger­ald — I agree with Neu­mann, power should stay in place.

Ques­tion to Hovde — What have you done to build a record of in which con­ser­v­a­tives can sup­port?  (His crit­i­cism of Thomp­son not being here.)

Hovde — You don’t fol­low a man’s words, you fol­low a man’s actions.  Points to his busi­ness record and looks for­ward to debat­ing Thomp­son in the future.

No follow-up (Thomp­son is not here.)

Ques­tion to Fitzger­ald — How do you run against the meme of “GOP War on Women?”

Fitzger­ald — When you don’t have a record to run on, you have to put up smoke­screens and attack.  Peo­ple are being hurt by Demo­c­ra­tic poli­cies (gas prices, infla­tion) they are afraid to run on.

Follow-up Neu­mann — The real war on women is the pas­sage of Oba­maCare (Medicare cuts), deficit spend­ing, and unemployment.

Ques­tion to Neu­mann — What sort of immi­gra­tion reforms would you get behind?

Neu­mann — Secure our bor­ders, encour­ag­ing legal immi­gra­tions (visa reforms, etc.), and abide by the laws on the books.

Ques­tion to Hovde — Is there any cir­cum­stance you would vote to increase the debt ceiling?

Hovde — We need to have con­di­tions that lead us to a bal­ance bud­get.  If those aren’t attached, then No, I will not vote for it.  If we’re on a path to a bal­anced bud­get, with teeth, then yes I would vote for it.

Follow-up Fitzger­ald — We don’t have a tax­ing prob­lem in Wash­ing­ton, we have a spend­ing prob­lem.  Brings up bal­anc­ing Wis­con­sin bud­get. Cut, Cap, and Balance.

Follow-up Smith — I agree w/ Mr. Hovde and Mr. Fitzger­ald.  The only way I’d do it is if it was emi­nent national defense.  Need to reduce redun­dan­cies in the fed­eral government.

Follow-up Neu­mann — Talks about past time in DC and the 1995 shut down.  We used debt ceil­ing as a tool to bal­ance bud­get, can be done again.

INTERMISSION, next up “Face­book and Twit­ter questions”

CROWD / CITIZEN EMAIL QUESTIONS

1) Should the 1% be taxed more to help pay for things?

Fitzger­ald — We have a spend­ing prob­lem not a tax­ing prob­lem.  Tax­ing the 1% is unfair to small busi­ness owner who do the bulk of the hir­ing in our economy.

2) To Neu­mann — Why are you against means test­ing for Social Security?

Peo­ple spend and save at dif­fer­ent lev­els.  Means test­ing is unfair to those who save for their own retire­ments.   Need to kill ObamaCare

3) How would you break the stale­mate on Capi­tol Hill if the GOP doesn’t take the major­ity in November?

Smith — We need peo­ple who are will­ing to talk to each other and fight it out over the facts, not the rhetoric.

4)  What would be the Repub­li­can alter­na­tive to ObamaCare?

Hovde — We need to push our health care sys­tem more into a pri­vate sec­tor solu­tion.  Talks about health care / higher edu­ca­tion infla­tion as an aspect of gov­ern­men­tal control.

5)  YouTube Ques­tion from RedState.com (Tony Katz) — What are the best inter­ests of the state of Wis­con­sin, and how would you high­light them in the Senate?

Neu­mann — Bal­ance the bud­get, brings up his five-point plan.

Smith — 10th Amendment

6)  Do you con­sider the lack of a bud­get in the Sen­ate for over 1,000 Days a dere­lic­tion of duty for the body?

Fitzger­ald — A lack of bud­get is a scan­dal.  Praises Paul Ryan for propos­ing bud­get and attacks Demo­c­ra­tic demogaug­ing of it.

Hovde — What do you expect from career politi­cians?  You can’t do this in busi­ness.  Praises Ron John­son.  There will be no bud­get with­out more con­ser­v­a­tive sen­a­tors and Harry Reid still con­trols the Senate.

7) Red­State Ques­tion — Do you sup­port the Ryan Plan, or what would you do differently?

Neu­mann — Ryan has pro­posed a bold plan and it needs a strong Sen­ate coun­ter­part to it.  Talks up his bud­get plan.

Fitzger­ald — I sup­port Paul Ryan’s plan and I sup­port those who have polit­i­cal courage to fight against the sta­tus quo.  We need peo­ple more wor­ried about the next gen­er­a­tion than their next election.

Smith — I think the Ryan bud­get is well done, if I were to change any­thing, is it needs an ele­ment to help con­trol the cost of health care.  Free-market pric­ing, a

Hovde — I have a radio ad out there defend­ing Paul Ryan’s plan.  He has real courage, but I think we need to go deeper.  We need to return our base­line bud­get­ing back to 2006 lev­els before TARP and Stim­u­lus level spend­ing are now the norm.

Follow-up — What about the aus­ter­ity cost to the economy?

Neu­mann — No one talks about the cost increased spend­ing does to the econ­omy.  Talks up his bud­get plan again.

8) How much of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment spend­ing can we cut?  (Ques­tion­ner brings up “War on Drugs” and Fed as examples.)

Smith — Would love to see it done by half.  Would I like to see Fed gone, yes, but if you elim­i­nate it than Con­gress takes over its duties, and I don’t want that.

Fitzger­ald — We need to go through every agency, every depart­ment, a case by case study and make them jus­tify what they are spend­ing their money on.

9)  What is your posi­tion on gov­ern­ment tax cred­its for green energy?

Hovde — I’m opposed to them.  Every­thing needs to stand on its own two feet, if it can’t it should not be held up by fed­eral tax dollars.

Neu­mann — End tax sub­si­dies for green ener­gies as well as end­ing the tax sub­si­dies for other areas (brings up peanut and ethanol)

Smith — Brings up the wind mill sub­si­dies fight in NE Wis­con­sin, $5 mil­lion in sub­si­dies for $200,000 in energy sav­ings over 10 years.

CLOSING STATEMENTS

Smith — We need seri­ous peo­ple who are ready to take on these very seri­ous issues.

Hovde — Our country’s in real trou­ble and we need to change course.  We need to deal with real­ity and make a deci­sion which needs to be made.  Empha­sizes his busi­ness and finan­cial background.

Neu­mann — Tells the story of his 3 year old grand­son telling why he should run for Sen­ate, in which the child replied “Grandpa, tell them to stop spend­ing my money!”

Fitzger­ald — Tells story of guy who took him aside and said I’m sup­port­ing you because you get things done and do what you’re going to say.  Speaks on his expe­ri­ence as Speaker get­ting things done in last session.

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