SBT: Walorski, Hall square off in second debate

SOUTH BEND — Republican Jackie Walorski and Democrat Mel Hall stuck to familiar strategies during their second debate Tuesday night, but a broader set of viewer-supplied questions illuminated some stark policy differences between the two candidates.

Walorski, seeking her fourth term representing Indiana’s 2nd District, again hammered Hall, a political newcomer, over lingering questions about his residency in Washington, D.C. in recent years and his work for a law firm there that also lobbies Congress. Hall again repeatedly criticized her for not having held a town hall meeting with constituents for five years, for voting 11 times to repeal Obamacare and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and for taking campaign money from special interest groups and political action committees.

On the issues, the candidates distinguished themselves a bit more than in their first debate Oct. 8 at WSBT-TV, including:

President Donald Trump’s tariffs: Hall said he applauded Trump for “calling out” China, who he called a “bad actor,” over its dumping of cheap steel and aluminum in the United States, but he would have liked something “more strategic, a little less off the cuff, a little less trade negotiation by tweet.” Hall said Indiana farmers are suffering from retaliatory tariffs on their exports.

Walorski, who has disagreed with Trump on many of the tariffs because of how they’re hurting the recreational vehicle and boat manufacturers in the district, said she has been closely involved in the matters as a Ways and Means Committee member. She said she has been part of a group urging Trump to renegotiate with China and other nations that have imposed retaliatory tariffs.

Immigration: Walorski said she supports Trump’s call to build the Mexican border wall and somehow protecting the estimated 11 million people who illegally immigrated to the United States as children with their parents, and she said Democrats want to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Hall countered that he doesn’t support House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi or abolishing ICE, but he also doesn’t advocate building the wall.

“We can protect our borders and have humane and fair immigration policies,” he said. “I believe we can keep families together and ensure that … people don’t overstay their visas.”

Abortion: Walorski said she is “absolutely pro-life” and has won the endorsement of anti-abortion rights groups. Hall said “the government should not be involved in the decisions that a woman, or in many cases, a young girl, has to make” regarding whether to have an abortion.

Tax cuts and the deficit: Walorski, who voted for the Republican-led tax cuts, said they will create enough economic activity to lower the national debt in the long term. She said Democrats have trivialized the $1,200 to $1,500 income tax break given to the average middle-income American.

Hall said Walorski has done nothing during her six years in office to stop the national debt from “exploding.”

Gun control: Hall said he supports banning devices that turn a semi-automatic gun into an automatic weapon, such as bump stocks. Walorski said existing gun laws must be enforced, and unspecified safeguards must be taken to keep guns away from criminals and those “who need mental help.”

The debate might have been the final one between the candidates. They initially had agreed to three live televised debates, the first time Walorski had ever agreed to such a challenge from a Democratic opponent, but the campaigns reportedly have been unable to agree on a format for the third event. Walorski has proposed a third debate under the same format and rules as the first two — live, televised, in a studio with only the candidates and moderators present, but Hall has instead pushed for the third debate to occur before a live, in-person audience.

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WASHINGTON WALORSKI: Rep. Walorski takes Lobbyist-funded Junket to Europe One Day After 2016 Election

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – In tonight’s Congressional debate, Rep. Walorski repeated the claim that she does not take lobbyist perks. However, records show that she has taken at least two overseas trips funded by a corporate-funded group called the “travel agency to lobbyists.”

  •  From November 9, 2016, the day after the 2016 election, until November 16, 2016, Rep. Walorski and her husband went on a free trip to London and stayed for four nights in the luxury Corinthia Hotel. [U.S. House, Committee on Ethics]
  • The Ripon Society, called a “travel agency for lobbyists,” paid as much as $16,000 for the trip, to cover the costs of airfare, hotel, and food. [ U.S. House, Committee on Ethics]
  • In 2015, the same “travel agency for lobbyists” paid $11,400 to send Rep. Walorski and her husband to Prague. [U.S. House, Committee on Ethics]

Instead of meeting with her constituents, Rep. Walorski took a victory trip to London the day after the 2016 election. Washington Walorski can mislead and distract all she wants, but the facts speak for themselves. There’s only one candidate in this race that is beholden to lobbyist and special interests and her name is Jackie Walorski.

FACT CHECK: Rep. Walorski Repeats False and Misleading Claims

Rep. Walorski was on repeat tonight. It seems that the people who wrote her talking points only printed the first page. Mel Hall never lobbied a day in his life. This has been discredited by both ABC57 and the South Bend Tribune, as well as the law firm Rep. Walorski references in her repeated attacks.

“Through March 2014, Mel Hall served as a senior advisor to our law firm. During his time with our law firm, Mel was not a registered lobbyist,” said a spokesperson for Dentons.

The candidate who knows the most about lobbying in this race is Rep. Walorski. Since she launched her Congressional career, she has been funded to the tune of $3.4 million from special interests. The Hall campaign refuses to accept this money and never will.

When you vote 11 times to take away health care for Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions and election time comes around, one becomes desperate. When the polls tighten, you start to lie.

Mel Hall will spend the rest of the election focusing on the issues that matter to hardworking Hoosiers in the 2nd District – not personal smear campaigns.

READ FOR YOURSELF: 

HPI: Walorski, Hall debate in a tsunami seat

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski and Democrat challenger Mel Hall debate at 7 tonight on WNDU-TV, which will live stream the event. It comes as the South Bend Tribune reports on a residency issue surrounding Hall’s Washington condo. Hall, meanwhile, began running a new ad today citing Walorski’s 11 votes curtailing Obamacare coverage, which reflects a national trend of Democrats campaigning heavily on health care issues. NBC’s Meet The Press Daily  has flagged the 2nd CD in its “tsunami watch” category: “If several of these races are close or breaking Democrats’ way, expect an historic wave.” Both Walorski and Hall describe their race as a national bellwether due to early closing time for Indiana polls.

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WNDU: Meet the Candidates forum Tuesday in Elkhart

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) – Voters in Elkhart County will get a chance on Tuesday night to meet several of the people who are on the November ballot.

A Meet the Candidates forum is happening at 6 p.m. at the Lerner Theatre’s Crystal Ballroom. Voters will able to learn about candidates in races such as U.S. Senate all the way to township trustee.

The event is being put on by the League of Women Voters in Elkhart County and the American Democracy Project of IU South Bend.

The event will also include a watch party for the 2nd District Congressional debate. The debate between Republican incumbent Rep. Jackie Walorski and Democrat Mel Hall will air at 7 p.m. on WNDU.

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SBT: Public invited to debate watch party and candidate forum in Elkhart County

ELKHART — The public is invited to see and hear from the full range of candidates that will appear on Elkhart County ballots in a forum and debate watching party Tuesday in the Crystal Ballroom of The Lerner Theatre, 410 S. Main St.

“Meet the Candidates” will begin with a forum among contested candidates at 6 p.m., followed by a watch party at 7 p.m. of the debate between District 2 congressional candidates Jackie Walorski and Mel Hall, which will be televised on WNDU-TV and livestreamed from a closed studio at WNDU. At 8 p.m., candidates in uncontested races will make remarks, and a networking reception with candidates will follow at 8:30 a.m.

The event is free to the public. It’s hosted by the League of Women Voters of Elkhart County and the American Democracy Project of IU South Bend.

The public will find candidates for Indiana Senate (district 11), Indiana House (districts 21 and 48), county auditor, county sheriff, county council, Concord Township assessor and township trustee, plus delegates for U.S. Senate candidates.

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WNDU: Walorski, Hall to hold Tuesday debate at WNDU Studios

On Tuesday evening, the two candidates in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District race will go head-to-head in a debate.

Republican representative and incumbent Jackie Walorski will face off against Democrat Mel Hall.

The debate is happening at our WNDU Studios, and you’ll be able to watch it on WNDU-TV or streaming online beginning at 7 p.m.

If you want to submit a question to the candidates, send us a message on the WNDU Facebook page at facebook.com/NewsCenter16 or at wndu.com/submit.

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Elkhart Truth: League of Women Voters to host forum

ELKHART — The League of Women Voters of Elkhart County and IU South Bend’s American Democracy Project will be hosting their Meet the Candidates evening at the Lerner Theatre’s Crystal Ballroom on Tuesday.

The event, which will begin with a candidates forum at 6 p.m., will include a 7 p.m. debate-watch party with livestreaming of WNDU’s closed-studio debate between District 2 congressional candidates Jackie Walorski and Mel Hall.

It will be followed by uncontested candidate remarks at 8 p.m. and a networking reception at 8:30 p.m.. The informal networking reception will provide voters with an additional opportunity to talk one-on-one with local candidates.

“Voters will have a unique opportunity to learn more about candidates from township trustee to U.S. Congress at this fun-filled Meet the Candidates event,” said Elizabeth Bennion, the American Democracy Project director and Tuesday’s forum moderator. “The names on the ballot will come to life as voters hear from candidates running for important township, county, and state level races in their community.”

Featured races at the forum include delegates for U.S. Senate, Indiana Senate District 11, Indiana House Districts 21 and 48, in addition to several county races.

“Absentee-in-person voting has already started, but we encourage people to hold off on casting their ballots until they have an opportunity to hear from the candidates,” said Bennion. “This event will allow voters to compare candidates side-by-side as they discuss their policy positions and priorities in their own words.”

The event is free and open to the public.

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Indy Biz Journal: Debating usually won’t help incumbents, experts say

Debate season kicked off this week for the U.S. Senate candidates, but candidates for other federal offices this year are shying away from publicly sparring with their opponents.

The candidates for U.S. Senate—Democrat incumbent Joe Donnelly, Republican Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton—met Monday for the first of two live debates. The second will be Oct. 30.

But only two of Indiana’s nine congressional districts have candidates who have agreed to debate this year. Candidates in the 2nd District—Republican incumbent Jackie Walorski and Democrat Mel Hall debated each other on Monday and will meet again later this month. In the 3rd District, Republican incumbent Jim Banks and Democrat Courtney Tritch will debate Nov. 2.

That’s not for a lack of interest at least for some parties though. Democrat Liz Watson, who is challenging Republican incumbent Trey Hollingsworth in the 9th District, has been calling for a debate for months.

Democrat Tobi Beck, who is running in the open 4th District against Republican Jim Baird, has also sent a letter to her opponent requesting a debate “in any public location with an independent moderator.”

In Evansville, WNIN and the Evansville Courier & Press offered three dates for debates between Republican incumbent Larry Bucshon and Democrat William Tanoos, but Buschon declined to participate. A spokesman for Bucshon told the Courier & Press that “voters in the 8th District are familiar with Dr. Bucshon’s strong record of accomplishments on their behalf and where he stands on the issues.”

So, what would make a candidate choose not to debate?

Chad Kinsella, assistant professor of political science at Ball State University, said the unwritten rule in politics is if you’re ahead significantly in a race, “there is no need to debate.”

“There’s nothing to gain from it,” Kinsella said.

By agreeing to a debate, a candidate who is ahead would be giving free media coverage to their opponent and would put themselves in a situation where it’s easy to make a mistake and lose support.

On the other hand, if you’re the candidate who is down in the race, it’s in your best interest to debate to potentially attract more supporters.

Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne, said it’s often challengers who have more to gain from a debate than an incumbent.

“If you’re the incumbent, you’re giving your opponent a venue,” Downs said. “You’re putting them on equal footing with yourself.”

Kinsella said it’s possible some voters are turned off by a candidate’s unwillingness to debate, but it’s likely not enough to change the outcome of a race. Downs said he generally recommends most incumbents agree to at least one debate, so then “they can’t say you didn’t debate.”

If it’s a close race, then it’s typically in the best interest of all candidates to debate and try to distinguish themselves, but even that comes with a risk.

“That all hinges on the person’s ability to be a good debater, and not everyone is,” Downs said.

So, what’s the key to being a good debater?

“Answer the question you want to answer, not the question that was asked,” Downs said.

For the races where a debate hasn’t been scheduled yet, it’s possible, but not likely one pops up before Nov. 6. “Time is really running out,” Kinsella said. “Most likely, they’ve already set their strategy in either debating or not debating.”

Downs is more open-minded about the possibility though.

“I can think of an election where debates came together with as few as two weeks to go,” Downs said. “Something could happen.”

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Hall Campaign Releases New Ad Featuring Mother of Triplets with Pre-Existing Conditions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The Mel Hall for Congress campaign began airing a new television ad today, entitled “Letter.” The ad features Jennica, a South Bend mother of young triplets with pre-existing conditions.

“I had triplets with medical complications. Health care was a lifesaver for us,” Jennica says in the ad. “Jackie Walorski voted eleven times to undermine health care and take away coverage from people with pre-existing conditions, like cancer or even complicated pregnancies. I wrote to Jackie Walorski about it, and this is what I got back: a form letter and eleven votes to take away health care.”

“No mother should live in fear that her children might not have the health care they need,” said Hall. “I’ve spent my career working to fix health care. In Congress, I will fight every day to protect health care for all Hoosiers – including Jennica and her triplets with pre-existing conditions.”

While Rep. Walorski voted 11 times to dismantle protections for folks with pre-existing conditions, Hall worked for over 20 years to improve health care delivery and patient satisfaction. He knows firsthand what it takes to make health care more responsive and to drive costs down.

Hall will always vote to protect health care for Hoosiers like Jennica with pre-existing conditions.

The ad can be viewed here.

The 11 votes Rep. Walorski took undermining health care for Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions are below:

  • 2017: Walorski Voted For The American Health Care Act – The Republican Health Care Repeal Bill. In May 2017, Walorski voted for “Passage of the bill that would make extensive changes to the 2010 health care overhaul law, by effectively repealing the individual and employer mandates as well as most of the taxes that finance the current system. It would, in 2020, convert Medicaid into a capped entitlement that would provide fixed federal payments to states and end additional federal funding for the 2010 law’s joint federal-state Medicaid expansion. As amended, it would give states the option of receiving federal Medicaid funding as a block grant with greater state flexibility in how the funds are used, and would require states to establish their own essential health benefits standards. It would allow states to receive waivers to exempt insurers from having to provide certain minimum benefits, would provide $8 billion over five years for individuals with pre-existing conditions whose insurance premiums increased because the state was granted a waiver to raise premiums based on an individual’s health status, and would create a $15 billion federal risk sharing program to cover some of the costs of high medical claims.” The bill was passed by a vote of 217-213. [HR 1628, Vote #256, 5/4/17; CQ, 5/4/17]
  • Walorski Voted For Republican Budget That Repealed Affordable Care Act. [H Con Res 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]
  • Walorski Voted To Repeal The Affordable Care Act. [HR 45, Vote #154, 5/16/13; CQ Floor Votes, 5/16/13]
  • Walorski Voted For Republican Budget That Repealed Affordable Care Act. [H Con Res 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14]
  • Walorski Voted To Repeal Affordable Care Act. [HR 596, Vote #58, 2/3/15; CQ Floor Votes, 2/3/15]
  • Walorski Voted For Budget Alternative That Repealed The Affordable Care Act. [H. Con Res. 27, Vote #141, 3/25/15; US News and World Report, 3/25/15]
  • Walorski Voted For Republican Budget That Repealed The Affordable Care Act. [H. Con Res. 27, Vote #142, 3/25/15; New York Times, 3/25/15]
  • Walorski Voted For Republican Conference Report On Budget That Began Process To Repeal Affordable Care Act. [S Con Res 11,Vote #183, 4/30/15; Bloomberg, 4/29/15]
  • Walorski Voted To Repeal The Affordable Care Act. [HR 3762, Vote #6, 1/6/16; CNN, 1/6/16]
  • Walorski Voted To Overturn Obama’s Veto Of Bill That Would Repeal The Affordable Care Act. [HR 3762, Vote #53, 2/2/16; Washington Post, 2/2/16]
  • Walorski Voted To Begin Process Of Repealing Affordable Care Act. [S Con Res 3, Vote #58, 1/13/17; CNN, 1/3/17]