Stabenow, James square off in final debate for senate

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The two candidates vying for one of Michigan’s United States Senate seats squared off in their final debate Monday.

The debate between incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow and her Republican challenger John James was hosted by the Detroit Economic Club. 

In the debate, the gloves came off once again. Stabenow says James does not have the experience necessary to be a U.S. senator.

“Frankly in these times, I believe this is a time for experience,” she said. “This is not a time for inexperience when it is so difficult to move through things and get things done.”

James says Stabenow has not delivered results for Michigan despite decades in Washington.

“Senator Stabenow is a very, very nice lady. A lot of us know her,” he said. “But I believe that, over time, Senator Stabenow has become ineffective, she’s become hyper-partisan and she’s lost a bit of credibility given her record.”

A wide-variety of issues were discussed, including immigration, Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure and healthcare, specifically, the Affordable Care Act. On the healthcare issue, Stabenow acknowledged premiums are too high, but says unraveling the system is not the way to go.

“I want to double down on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, which every healthcare provider in this room will tell you is the number one legitimate way we can lower costs,” she said.

James, meanwhile, called for a market-based approach, and says Stabenow’s ideas are not working.

“We need to make sure that we have tort reform and regulatory reform to increase transparency and competition in the market, so we can lower healthcare costs, increase quality of care,” he said. “You have had 20 years in Washington to have done something about it. And these promises you’re making again, Senator, why should we believe you?”

Another question concerned balancing the budget. Stabenow cited her record of streamlining in the agricultural committee, and said if other committees could do the same, the budget would be balanced.

James once again said Stabenow has had decades to balance the budget, but has not gotten it done.

“How do you have government shutdowns? How do you run out of money? You print the money,” he said. James added that if the government is shut down, lawmakers should not be paid.

James, who has the endorsement of President Trump, vowed that while he would support the president’s agenda when it suited Michigan, he would stand up to him when it does not.

Stabenow, who has led comfortably in the polls, referenced an earlier statement by James, and vowed she would continue to fight for Michiganders if re-elected.

“My opponent has said he’s with Donald Trump 2000%. I want you to know I’m with you 2000%,” she said.

The election is on November 6. 6 News is Your Local Election Headquarters both on-air and online before, during and after the votes are counted.

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