Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDems see blue ‘tsunami’ in House as Senate path narrows Trump, GOP aim to weaponize Kavanaugh vote ahead of November The winners and losers of the Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Ind.) and businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun (R) clashed of their first Senate debate that was dominated by heated exchanges on well being care, the Supreme Court docket affirmation struggle and celebration management.
Donnelly is operating for a second time period in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKentucky man goes viral after complaining his name is Brett Kavanagh UN report predicts catastrophic consequences if greenhouse gas emissions not reduced by 2030 Kanye West quits social media amid pro-Trump comments MORE received by 19 factors in 2016. The Democratic senator highlighted his document of backing Trump’s agenda, whereas distancing himself from the Democratic Celebration. Braun continued to border himself as a political outsider who’s operating in opposition to somebody he believes is a profession politician who hasn’t delivered.
Listed below are 5 takeaways from Monday evening’s debate.
Kavanaugh turns into main flashpoint
The deeply partisan, bitter struggle over Brett Kavanaugh’s affirmation to the Supreme Court docket rapidly grabbed the highlight, illuminating one of many largest variations between Donnelly and Braun that isn’t going away anytime quickly.
Donnelly defined his vote in opposition to the confirmed Kavanaugh, who confronted sexual assault allegations that he denied. Donnelly mentioned he couldn’t help Kavanaugh over considerations about “impartiality and judicial temperament.”
Donnelly was one of many most-watched senators amid the Kavanaugh affirmation struggle. Since saying he opposed his nomination, Braun has repeatedly hit him for what he believes is siding with Washington over Indiana. However Donnelly touted his vote for Trump’s first Supreme Court docket decide Neil Gorsuch, one among three Democratic senators to affix Republicans in backing him.
“I voted in opposition to Choose Kavanaugh due to considerations about his impartiality and considerations about his judicial temperament,” Donnelly mentioned. “My job just isn’t solely to find out the nominee however to guard the courtroom. Justice Gorsuch met each take a look at.”
“Mike was for Choose Kavanaugh on the primary day,” he added. “If President Trump put up Bugs Bunny, Mike would have put him up on the courtroom.”
Braun labeled the problem as a “clear separator” between the 2 candidates, accusing Donnelly of becoming a member of Democrats in obstruction of Kavanaugh’s nomination. The Indiana Republican argued that Donnelly fell in line on the problem with Senate Minority Chief Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJustice Kavanaugh will be impartial, not political like his opponents Democrats seek to turn Kavanaugh anger into votes McConnell: ‘Simply inaccurate’ that Senate is broken after Kavanaugh fight MORE (D-N.Y.).
“I feel what it is best to have gotten from the latest spectacle, Democrats together with Joe Donnelly will do or say something with regards to their political pursuits,” Braun mentioned.
“It’s a blood sport— it’s a choice based mostly not on what Hoosiers need however what Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJustice Kavanaugh will be impartial, not political like his opponents Democrats seek to turn Kavanaugh anger into votes McConnell: ‘Simply inaccurate’ that Senate is broken after Kavanaugh fight MORE needs.”
Dems assume well being care is a profitable subject
Donnelly targeted closely on well being care within the debate, repeatedly referencing his help of the Inexpensive Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing circumstances.
It is a acquainted theme in aggressive Senate races this yr, with red-state Democrats making an attempt to tie Republicans to the Trump administration’s efforts to “sabotage” the well being care legislation.
A principal side of that technique is highlighting the administration’s argument that ObamaCare’s protections for folks with pre-existing circumstances ought to be struck down in a pending lawsuit.
“Stand right here tonight and inform us you will denounce that lawsuit — that you will denounce that effort on pre-existing circumstances,” Donnelly challenged Braun.
Braun did not try this, as a substitute arguing that whereas he helps these protections, ObamaCare is “falling aside.”
Donnelly repeatedly mentioned he was the “deciding vote” to save lots of these protections, referring to his vote final yr in opposition to the GOP’s ObamaCare repeal invoice.
“Hoosiers, clearest distinction. He will not even denounce the lawsuit that can take away your protection for pre-existing circumstances. I am the one that forged the ultimate vote to verify your baby with bronchial asthma can get their inhaler,” Donnelly mentioned.
Donnelly additionally hit Braun on the well being care he presents his staff, citing a narrative that claims its deductibles are upwards of $5,000.
“I took on the insurance coverage firms when nobody else would,” Braun mentioned. “It may not be an ideal plan, but it surely’s an ideal plan.”
Donnelly goes on offense
It didn’t take lengthy for the talk to show contentious and Donnelly took the primary shot in his opening assertion.
“Mike, you could do greater than take your tie off to realize the belief of Indiana,” Donnelly quipped about Braun, who often wears a blue-collared shirt with no tie.
The unfavorable tenor of the race is emblematic of a too-close-to-call race that’s doubtless to assist decide which celebration controls the Senate. Donnelly went on offense, attacking Braun on his enterprise and legislative document and reducing in a number of occasions.
Donnelly forged Braun as somebody who could be unequivocally in lock-step with Trump — making the jab that Braun would again Bugs Bunny if the president nominated him to the excessive courtroom.
Braun additionally took pictures at Donnelly, portray him as somebody who will put Democratic leaders in Washington over Hoosiers. And the Republican businessman additionally identified the unfavorable tone and assaults from his opponent.
“After I get there, you may depend on me to do issues. And he’s operating a marketing campaign of negativity due to his document,” Braun mentioned. “Fallacious on nearly every little thing together with Choose Kavanaugh.”
Pink-state Dems fast to reward Trump
Like many Democrats up in Trump states, Donnelly hasn’t shied away from praising Trump when there’s widespread floor, whereas additionally conserving a ways from the Democratic Celebration.
When requested by a member of the viewers if the candidates will buck celebration for the “will of the folks,” Donnelly highlighted his document of siding with Trump, saying he’s voted with the president 62 % of the time.
“I’m going in opposition to my celebration on a regular basis,” Donnelly mentioned, noting his votes for Gorsuch’s Supreme Court docket affirmation and Proper to Attempt laws. “That’s a daily for me.”
“That’s what we’re imagined to do,” he continued. “I don’t assume it’s about celebration.”
However as Donnelly sought to point out alignment with Trump, Braun laid out the problems the place the Indiana Democrat doesn’t match up with the president and most Republicans. And like many Republicans, they’re hoping Schumer shall be an efficient political boogeyman.
“It’s his document that we’re litigating this night. Once you attempt to flip consideration to different points, it means you’re in all probability embarrassed about your individual document,” Braun mentioned.
“He voted for ObamaCare initially, he voted in opposition to its repeal, he voted for the Iran deal, he voted in opposition to tax reform…after which right here, he voted in opposition to Choose Kavanaugh. He says for different causes however he did it as a result of he takes his marching orders from Chuck Schumer.”
Braun casts himself as a Trump-like outsider
Braun forged himself as an “outsider” businessman, whereas portray Donnelly as a “profession politician” who will get briefed by lobbyists.
“Goodness, why do not we give an opportunity to different people who have accomplished issues in the actual world,” Braun lamented at one level.
Braun, a millionaire who runs a nationwide auto components distribution firm, has little expertise in politics, although he did serve for 3 years as a state consultant.
However, he mentioned, “I’ve accomplished issues in the actual world. This gents is a profession politician. That is a part of the issue.”
Braun tried to tie himself to Trump, arguing that his non-public sector expertise is a part of what makes him a profitable president, utilizing the U.S.’s latest talks with North Korea for example.
“We now have by no means been this near one thing truly being accomplished, and I feel that’s what you’re going to get out of people that assume a little bit in a different way,” he mentioned.