By Andrew Thomason | Statehouse News Online
WAUKESHA — Republican candidates hoping to win the August primary for the U.S. Senate addressed topics ranging from foreign policy to national health care during 90-minute debate Wednesday night.
Jeff Fitzgerald, Eric Hovde, Mark Neumann and Kip Smith took part in a GOP debate hosted by the Republican Party of Waukesha County and Wisconsin Reporter.
Four-term former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson was absent. He was in Washington, D.C., for a previously scheduled fundraiser, said Don Taylor, chairman of the Republican Party of Waukesha County.
National health care
All four candidates participating in the debate agreed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health care law, needs to be repealed.
“The biggest thing we need to do is get government out of the way … (and) let the free markets reign again,” said Smith, a Rhinelander physical therapist.
Fitzgerald, a state representative who is speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, also called for a complete rollback of President Barack Obama’s crowning domestic achievement.
“Our president wants to start a new entitlement that will be the behemoth of all entitlements and will bankrupt this country,” Fitzgerald said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of the federal health care law in June.
Fitzgerald called Pakistan a corrupt nation that the United States must monitor. He did not rule out military action against the country where Osama Bin Laden was killed.
The U.S. has to do “anything we can do to stop a specific region or area that harbors terrorist,” Fitzgerald said. “I think we have to do whatever we can do to protect our country.”
Neumann, a former congressman of District 1, focused on Afghanistan. Neumann wouldn’t support an immediate end to the longest war in U.S. history. He said quick decisions would endanger troops in the Middle East.
But Hovde, a Madison businessman, called for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
“We need to get out. There’s no reason to spend more of our young people’s blood or our treasure in that country,” Hovde said.
Obama is pitching increasing taxes on those with incomes of more than $1 million. The “Buffet Rule,” as it’s known, is named after billionaire and Obama supporter Warren Buffet.
The candidates Wednesday night came down hard on the president’s plan.
“We want people making investments in our economy to build that new plant,” Hovde said. “So why are you going to disincentivize them to make that investment?”