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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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