Barr v. McGrath: First and only Debate of the Sixth Congressional District Election
November 1, 2018
Barr and McGrath Debate with Election One Week Away
“We need politicians who are not just puppets of the corporate donors.”
With the 6th congressional district election coming up next Tuesday, opponents Andy Barr (R), Amy McGrath (D), and Frank Harris (L) met for one hour in a closed studio to debate various issues such as false ads, recent hate crimes, healthcare strategies, U.S. debt, foreign hacking, and their wanted legacies for Kentucky.
To the far left sat McGrath, in the middle Barr, and to the far right Harris. Each candidate seemed friendly towards one another prior to the start of the debate, and was welcoming to the media. Members of the press were given permission to take photos before the debate started, but watched the debate from a different room.
McGrath received the first question regarding attack ads, and immediately drew the audience to attention, especially when moderator Renee Shaw of KET asked, “Are you too liberal for Kentucky?”
McGrath began her answer saying she cares about American values, and that her words had been taken out of context, misrepresenting what she said. To answer her given question, she said, “On some issues I’m very conservative, on some I’m very liberal.” Going off her response, the moderator mentioned that some residents were concerned that she would establish a far left and democratic establishment. Her response to that was that the Democratic party as a whole did not even want her to run, and that her campaign has been funded by the people, inferring many support her.
When Barr was given the first opportunity to speak, he mentioned how they should have more debates like this one, referring to McGrath’s denial to previous requests of debates. Barr discussed many of his accomplishments, making it clear that under his and President Trump’s administration, the country and Kentucky has become better. He discussed his effort to work across the aisle. It was here that Barr was cut off by Libertarian opponent Harris.
The next main question mentioned the latest shootings in Louisville and Pittsburgh, and how the candidates are committed to respond.
Both candidates expressed their grief and condolences towards the fatal shootings, but the rest of the discussion led to Barr and McGrath accusing each other of running attack ads and demonizing each other’s side.
The discussion was then switched to healthcare, which a majority of the debate was spent discussing.
Barr expressed his wish to not just repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) but to replace it. He put heavy emphasis on implementing healthcare to aid those with pre-existing conditions, like his own sister.
McGrath then shared her beliefs on healthcare for Kentucky and the rest of the country. She made it very clear that she views healthcare as a right, and something all Americans should have. She defended the ACA by noting “people love it.” She blamed her opponent for violating the basic principle of do no harm by wanting to replace the plan.
McGrath mentioned several times how she enjoyed having her healthcare paid for while serving the country, and that she currently is still provided for. “This is personal,” she said. Her plan includes a public option, that people have the choice of one or two private insurances or that they could opt for government insurance. She assured that this would not lead to a single payer system.
Barr then interrupted his opponent, as he did many times throughout the debate, passionately exclaiming how she was quoted saying “single payer is the way to go”.
Both became calling each other liars and interrupting each other.
Harris then commented on how he wished he had more time to speak, as he was not often given adequate time to respond to questions.
The next major question revolved around debt, and whether a candidate’s plans were to reduce entitlement programs or if they were to make permanent tax cuts.
Barr begins his response saying Medicare is too costly, and that since more people are working, it is dissolving.
McGrath then noted the Republicans are hypocrites and give 83% of funds to the wealthiest 1%, which adds trillions to the debt.
She explained her number one goal was to lower the deficit, and that Barr had only added trillions to the debt, despite initial commitment to not. She also said if she wins the election, she will look to the top 1% to reduce the deficit.
Both Barr and McGrath began bickering once more, saying complete opposite and opposing facts revolving economic growth.
The last main question asked was how the candidates want to leave Kentucky, and what they want their legacy to be.
Barr, as he did throughout the entire debate, said America is back and better now. He did not mention what he wants to accomplish in the future.
McGrath said she wishes for Kentucky to to put leaders over their party. She hopes to invest in education and infrastructure, as well as have the country’s leaders to step up.
The debate ended as the moderator noted there needed to be another hour to cover all the topics. Barr and Harris said they wish they could and they should. Barr leaned over to McGrath for her input on another debate saying, “Amy?”
The debate was mostly successful. Although there were several moments of arguments, it seems debates these days cannot occur without them.
Overall, Andy Barr did a somewhat clear job of expressing his views, though he is already fairly well-known for his conservative stance. What he lacked was an explanation of what he plans to do or improve upon if he is to be re-elected. Many of his comments were about what he has already done.
Amy McGrath overall was much clearer in her explanations than Barr, and it was probable that the average voter could understand her stances better than her opponent. She spoke more controlled and at a better pace than Barr. However, she did spend much of her time defending herself for attack ads, making the truth foggy for those who have seen these ads frequently and have heard her speak.
Following the debate, only Barr and Harris stayed for further questions from the media. McGrath refused any media commentary and left immediately.
Barr came out in a fairly upbeat and confident mood. He expressed his wishes for further debate with McGrath, but that she kept refusing. His theory for her refusing debates is due to that she is “trying to avoid” questions she knows a majority of Kentucky will not like the answer to.
He mentions wishing they could have gotten to topics of immigration and abortion. Barr wished he was able to shine light on his opponent’s support of late-term abortion.
This debate is crucial for this Tuesday’s election. Because there have not been any other debates prior to this one, this was the first time voters could see each candidate interact and defend themselves. It is imperative for people to get out and support their candidate who they believe best represents Kentucky.
The Forgotten Candidate: Frank Harris
No one really knows much, or anything, about the Libertarian candidate Frank Harris, who participated in the debate held at KET this past Monday night.
The audience primarily focused on the two major party candidates’ responses. Harris was not given the opportunity to say much, but what he did say expressed his party’s views.
Harris acknowledged that the Libertarian party is small, but there are reasons he joined that party and left the Republican party 6 years ago.
“I couldn’t tolerate it. Americans are concerned about fundamental issues that they aren’t seeing from the two major parties.”
Harris felt this need to leave the party particularly when issues like balancing the budget was not done the way it should be in his eyes. “I’m the guy who wants to reduce spending.”
Harris also expressed his belief in the Constitution, and that it should be the followed thoroughly.
When asked about how to respond to the latest shootings in Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and other recent hate crimes, he mostly spoke about how the media is guilty of only treating one side. He went on to explain how when a person sees another face to face, they are treated differently. He complained how people only get their news from one source.
In regards to healthcare, Harris said, “I hope I get more than one minute.” He quickly expressed that it is wrong for the government to control how many doctors are allowed to be trained and how many hospitals are allowed to be built. He went on to say the VA healthcare system is not good and must be changed. Overall, he wished for less government intervention.
When given his turn to discuss taxes, Harris discussed how he would fix the debt issue. His main two points was to pay it down 2% every year, which would be around $4,000,000,000, then take what is left and apply it to what is needed.
When asked how Harris would want to leave Kentucky, he simply wished for Kentucky to not fear their government.
Overall, Frank Harris did not get much time to express the changes he would like to make for Kentucky. When answering questions, he only really had time to express his views instead of discuss his reasoning and plans for them. When he did speak, it was with passion.
Following the debate, Harris was the first candidate out from the studio and open to the media for questions. When asked how he thought it went, he was visibly disheartened and solemnly said he tried not to be rude. He expressed how he did not get adequate time to respond to questions, and that his opponents were not getting to the heart of the issues discussed.
He began choking up as he spoke. Harris explained how he is an Uber/Lyft driver, and if everyone could get a ride with him, they would vote for him.
“I will give interviews to anyone”. Harris expressed his desire to talk to citizens and explain his views.
When asked who he thinks he will get the majority of votes from, Democrats or Republicans, he said equally from both. If he had enough time, he would have explained his desire to legalize marijuana, which would most likely have drawn the Democratic voters. Also if he had enough time, he would have explained his tax plan for thoroughly, which would have attracted Republican voters.
He went on many tangents in how the government has failed Americans and Kentuckians. Harris was overall disheartened for not being able to share his views adequately, and conveyed a sincerity for the well being of Kentucky.