Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly and Blake Masters, the Republican challenger, took to the Phoenix debate stage Thursday evening. They argued over President Joe Biden’s handling of the U.S. Economy, Border Security, and Reproductive Rights.
Inflation has slowed consumer spending in the country, the candidates highlighted at the beginning of the debate. Masters shared the story of how parents have to give up meals to be able to afford to feed their kids.
Kelly, an ex-astronaut, was narrowly elected to serve the remaining term of Republican Senator John McCain. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic (which he called “something unprecedented”) was directly to blame for the current economic crisis.
Masters, a venture capitalist who is supported by former President Donald Trump, refuted, saying that Biden continues to waste money, exacerbating inflation.
Masters was also asked by the Republican if Biden had been legitimately elected president in 2020. Masters responded: “Absolutely…haven’t you seen the gas prices lately?”
He said: “At the very least Senator Sinema has stopped Build Back Better. You were willing to vote for it, my goodness. It would have just destroyed our economy.
The candidates tackled immigration and border security.
Both candidates argued for a safer border. Kelly however pointed out the failures of Washington and Biden to reduce an overworked Border Patrol and to stem record-setting immigration levels. He argued that the Democrat was actually fighting for Arizonans.
The Democrat said: “You know what, I told him he was mistaken. This administration was repeatedly resisted by me. I have more money to expand Border Patrol technology and to build additional barriers.
Kelly stayed on the same message and pointed out Washington and other party leaders, including President Obama, for not securing the border.
Masters countered that Kelly wasn’t doing enough to protect Arizona from the dangers of not properly vetting people entering the country.
Kelly also noted that he voted against an amend that would have permitted the hiring of 18,000 additional Border Patrol agents.
Both candidates also clashed on abortion and reproductive care. This issue has seen a rise in popularity among potential voters since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.
Masters stated that he supports an abortion limit of 15 weeks, similar to a proposal by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
Masters said Kelly, who advocated for the codification of a constitutional right for women have an abortion, believes there should be no limits to abortions.
Kelly called the decision of the high court “devastating” as well as “wrong”, and claimed Masters would totally reverse abortion procedures in the state.
This was their only debate before November’s midterm elections, which are less than a month away.
Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission hosted the debate. The frontrunners were joined at the end by Marc Victor, a Libertarian nominee.