tv Campaign 2018 Minnesota AG Debate CSPAN October 24, 2018 11:04pm-12:08am EDT
weekend on c-span 2's bi book tv. this year, democratic congressman keith ellison has decided not to seek reelection, so he can run for minnesota attorney general. his republican opponent is former state representative doug wardlow. the election is 13 days away. the candidates debated each other in st. paul. >> ok, now let's begin this hour-long debate. your moderators tonight, tom and leah mclain. >> good evening, and thank you for joining us. we do appreciate that both of the major party candidates for attorney general have agreed to join us tonight, and we look
forward to hearing from both of you on important issues. >> we will cover a wide range of topics. we want to start with opening statements on why you are running for the office of attorney general. keith ellison, let's start with you. >> thank you. i'm running because i want to help minnesotans afford their lives and to benefit from human and civil rights that everybody should enjoy. when you see insulin gallop in praise in just a few years, it is tough to a 40 or if you see if you have diabetes. if you see student loan debt going up, wages stagnating, you need somebody, an attorney to be onho is going your site to make sure that when consumer fraud is happening, when you form is in jeopardy, that the attorney general is standing with you. rm is inyou fa jeopardy, that the attorney general is standing with you. >> my wife and i have three young children. i want them to grow up in minnesota where the streets are safe, the law is respected, and the weakest among us are protected. that's the job of the attorney general. that's why i'm running. you will see a clear contrast tonight between myself and mr. ellison. mr. ellison wants to push the radical policy agenda through the courts. that's where i'm different. i'm going to be an independent
voice, beholden to know political party. i will enforce the law and protect and defend all minnesotans. >> thank you. mr. ellison, character has issue inmajor i this campaign for attorney general. just before the primary election, you were accused by a former girlfriend of domestic abuse. she says she has video of the incident. you have responded to this in the past, but this is the widest audience you have to respond to this. can you tell us in your own words how you respond to these allegations? >> i consider these allegations very serious, which is why i fully incorporated with the investigation. that investigation, which is a 15-page report, which anyone can read, has found the allegations were unsubstantiated. i can tell you that i believe that it is wrong to politicize a tragic situation like this. i think that it is absolutely improper for this to become a political football and a weapon in this particular election.
particularly when many of the people who are this allegation have failed to bring it up in other critical situations. for example, president trump has been credibly accused 19 times, one on tape. fact, fact, no one can forget t particular occasion, yet the people who continue to weaponize this allegation against we have failed to mention that at all. let me note as well that it is just a tactic to divert from the true critical issues in this particular race. this race is about who is going to be the attorney general, who who will be best to represent minnesotans. i'm that person. >> to be clear, you deny the allegation? mr. ellison: without a doubt. >> do you accept that denial, or is this a legitimate issue for voters to consider when they go to the polls on election day? >> this is absolutely a legitimate issue for the voters to consider. president trump is not on the ballot.
keith ellison is, and he wants to be our state's top cop, top official. there are serious and troubling allegations of domestic violence have been leveled -- that have been leveled against him by two different women. they are about conduct that is pretty recent, 2005 and 2016. there is overwhelming evidence to support these allegations. this is not a situation where it is just naked allegations. there is overwhelming evidence in the form of 911 call reports, witnesses. karen monahan spoke with a number of people shortly after the abuse occurred. those are witnesses. there are medical records. there is a lot of evidence. so these are very troubling and very serious allegations that are corroborated. there is plenty of evidence for the public to conclude keith ellison should not be the state's top law enforcement official. moderator: mr. ellison, as a follow-up karen monahan says she , has video of this. you say the video does not exist. can you assure voters that this video, a video will not surface before election day? mr. ellison: absolutely.
it can't possibly surface because the behavior described, i didn't engage in. let me just say there are not two allegations. i was the one who got the order for protection against an individual. i got the order for protection against them. in this particular case, a month-long investigation by a trained professional expert in employment law looked at everything, everything, and concluded that they could not sustain these allegations they are unsubstantiated. i can assure you that the behavior described, and never engaged in. moderator: mr. wardlow, as you know, in washington, d.c., there were confirmation hearings for now-justice brett kavanaugh. some people have said there is a double standard with the way he was treated and the way mr. ellison is being treated. can you address that, and do you believe that is true? >> yes, i do believe that is true. there is a double standard. it reveals a lot of party bosses on the democratic side care about politics.
they are willing to smear brett kavanaugh with those allegations and they don't look at mr. .llison with the same standards mr. ellison is of the democratic national committee. there is no one more political really, then keith ellison. it appears he is getting a pass. the sham investigation he is talking about was put on by his own party, a lawyer and a law firm that has donated a lot of dfo. to the moderator: many democrats believed brett kavanaugh's accuser, but do not believe yours. is there a double standard? no, there are completely different cases and should be evaluated on their own facts. brett kavanaugh is a justice of
the united states supreme court today. if you think about behavior, it is actually mr. wardlow who is on tape saying that he would fire democrats in a political purge. that's political. moderator: i would like to ask about that. for the segway. mr. wardlow, you have come ,campaign for months saying that your opponent would politicize the office of attorney general. you were heard saying you would fire democratic attorneys off the bat and get republican attorneys and there. what do you say to that? mr. wardlow it should : come as no surprise that when a new person comes into office, we have to shake things up. we can't take the politics out of attorney general. it has been thoroughly politicized. we cannot take the politics out of the office unless we make some changes. i will make some changes, but i will not use party as a litmus test for appointees. rather, i will make sure everyone in the office can put the rule of law above politics. moderator: mr. ellison. mr. ellison: i just urge people to listen to the quote. you can listen to mr. wardlow's
voice saying, right off the bat, he is going to fire 42 democrats and replace them with republicans, but that's not all. he also said that he was going to implement trump's agenda if he gets in, that is also something he said. he also said he would use the office to change the complexion of the states for republicans. time after time he has been the one accusing me of what he is doing, which is politicize in the office. memberntire history as a of congress, i have never asked anyone what their political affiliation was. i would be glad to hire it a republican or independent who is willing to throw down and fight hard every single day for minnesotans. i believe it is inappropriate to pledge a political purge and then not even stand by what you said in this state wide audience. this has been the cornerstone of his campaign that he is a
political, and yet he says he is going to do a political purge. listen for yourself. debbie: i never said anything about doing a political purge. thisd, i have fighting for office, not for the party before the cause of the rule of law. there is no one more political than keith ellison, the deputy chair of the democratic national committee. he wants to maintain that office if he is elected attorney general. those two positions are completely incompatible. office too use this wage a political war, and that is completely inappropriate. we should not be abusing taxpayer resources or the power of this office to push forward kind of policy agenda. i will protect minnesota's and enforce the law. haveator: mr. ellison, you said, and attorney general
should be a were to advance a political and legislative agenda. is that one of the roles of the office? mr. ellison: i do think that it is entirely appropriate for the attorney general to come up with a legislative agenda and work with the state legislature and governor to pass things that will benefit higher quality of law and justice in the state of minnesota. for example, i believe that all minnesotans, no matter who they are or who they love, should be it were to go into any institution they want and purchase goods and services. right now, at this moment, there is a group called the defending -- the alliance for defending freedom that is suing in st. cloud, so that some radiograph or's don't like gay people can lawfully discriminate against them. thank god the judge threw that out. i would be somebody who says, no. you're not going to have any situation where people cannot go into a store or cannot take benefit of any businesses. i will make sure everyone
benefits from services. up fordlow withstand that group. i will stand up for equal rights. that will be part of what i'm standing for as my policy agenda. liberty and justice for all. moderator: mr. wardlow, shoot the attorney general office be able to advance a political or legislative agenda. mr. wardlow: the attorney general should advance the agenda with respect laws of justice. keith ellison wants to push radical political agenda. i want as attorney general, i will stand up for the rights of all minnesotans regardless of race, sex or gender. all minnesotans. i will not be political. in the alliance defending freedom, the work i did there was fighting for first amendment rights. the first amendment protects free speech and freedom of religion. these are not controversial things. keith ellison doesn't believe in the first amendment. he has actually said that he wants the party to come out against the second amendment from the constitution.
might it isome true. how can a person who wants to strip citizens of on a mental constitutional rights be the state top law enforcement official? moderator: that is a significant allegation he is made. we'll give you 30 seconds. mr. ellison: i am a gun owner. i own two shotguns and deer rifle. i go hunting and i go turkey hunting. i believe in the second amendment. we ought to do something about guns that result in massive loss of life all over our state. we need to have sensible gun safety laws. i have said that. i stand by that. i will tell you this, when mr. wardlow said about the first amendment, he's saying my religion should allow me to exclude gay people from buying services from a particular company. i think that is wrong. i want to know, do you think that is true? that is what the lawsuit was about. that is what your law firm was saying. moderator: he's made a significant allegation and we'll give you 30 seconds. mr. wardlow: i fought for free
speech and free thought and free religion. standing up for the rights of all americans. these are fundamental constitutional rights. everything he is saying is simply untrue. but if you want to talk about extremism and discrimination, mr. ellison here has been associated with louis farrakhan terrible anti-semite, for a long time. mr. farrakhan is someone who said a few days ago, he compared jews to termites. that is just up aren't an evil and mr. ellison here has never denounced louis farrakhan. we were going to get to what cannotor: later but i let it sit there and rest for a few minutes. mr. ellison you have 30 seconds. then we will move on to another topic. mr. ellison: i absolutely denounced and reject the views of louis farrakhan. i have said that many, many years ago. look, in the early 1990's, louis farrakhan was this person speaking on the issues of african-american and civil rights. at that time he had some things
i thought he had to offer. he made it very clear in the early 1990's his views and mine were absolutely incompatible. and i have said that since. moderator: we have more than another half hour to go. in 1995 you pinned an op-ed -- moderator: mr. wardlow, let us move on to another topic now. mr. ellison: my views have changed dramatically since then. denounced the alliance for defending freedom? moderator: we will continue with that line of questioning in a moment. let us move onto another issue. how active should the state he in challenging federal laws you don't agree with as attorney general? and give us some examples? mr. ellison: let me start out with this lawsuit that some attorney general filed to strip out pre-existing condition
protections from the affordable care act. that is a lawsuit that i'm very glad, laurie swanson has joined. i talk to when minnesotans about diabetes, heart disease, all the illnesses that people are plagued with, it terrifies them that the federal government is refusing to defend the law that these attorney general's are pushing. stand with the people who have pre-existing conditions, fight for their ability to get health care access and be there for them. i don't agree that the federal government is trying to put in a question around citizenship. the constitution says, come all persons. i don't agree with the federal government's decision on the internet. i believe in net neutrality. and i think that there are some challenges that are certainly warranted there. and let us not forget about pulling children away from parents which the trump administration is doing. moderator: your time is up. mr. wardlow are there times you would join earth states in
you join other states in challenging the federal government? you heard mr. ellison say help mr. wardlow:you heard mr. ellison say help to challenge if court anything he disagrees with. mr. ellison said, he said they might not defend laws of the state of minnesota that he does not agree with or that he thinks are not workable, is a word he used. the attorney general is supposed to force the laws of state of minnesota. it doesn't matter what you think about the laws. if they are constitutional, they must be enforced and defended and that is what i will do as attorney general, stand up for the laws of minnesota and the people of minnesota and protect minnesotans. moderator: your response? mr. ellison: as a legislator of 12 years, congressperson and a legislator of four, i will work with members of the legislature to make sure that not only are the laws constitutional, i will insist upon that, we'll work to make sure they pass a law that that is something that can actually be implemented. that is only point i was making.
this goes back to this idea that campaign with all this mudslinging and distortion all the time -- i am telling you what wer wardlow said. he's trying to distort about what i said. i will stand up for the constitution and i will stand up for minnesota law. and i will work with legislators to make sure that the laws make sense and can be effectively implemented. moderator: mr. wardlow, final comment. mr. wardlow: you also said you would defend the laws you don't agree with. you regard as not workable. you will try to bypass congress and sue the president and sue the federal government whenever you don't agree with a certain policy. that is unconscionable. you said things that you disagree with like net neutrality, you went through a list of policies there. it's clear that you want to push a radical policy agenda through the courts, using taxpayer
resources and the office of the attorney general. that is inappropriate. mr. ellison: may i please say, tom, if he believes that standing up for net neutrality is radical. we don't agree on that. i will stand openness and access to information. mr. wardlow: i agree with that too. but the fact of the matter is, that is a legislative decision for congress, and it is not something the attorney general of minnesota should waste or abuse taxpayer resources to fight. mr. wardlow, consumer protection has been a major function of the attorney general's office in recent years. if you were attorney general, would that remain a top priority in the office? >> absolutely. consumers need to be protected. especially our senior citizens from scammers and thieves that will remain top priority of the office when i'm attorney general. we need to do that because that's one of the jobs of the attorney general. it is in a statute. we cannot trust keith ellison to are anyonesumers else. just look at his atrocious
record. he hasn't regularly stood up for and raise money for people who have murdered police officers. he's a cheerleader for cop killers. shakur, a look at these up, these are absolutely true. you have raised money for domestic terrorists. >> you can't trust keith ellison to protect consumers. i will consumer fraud laws. consumer fraudce laws and will consumer fraud laws and will defend and protect all minnesotans. mr. ellison: let us be clear, i am talking about minnesota families and he is talking about me. my point is that i am here and my whole life is based on running up for chris rumors and helping people of for their lives. i am proud that lori sorenson sued to make sure that those price gougers with regard to insulin are being held accountable. she stood up when she is wiki sure people can afford their insulin, which is a good thing. she stood up to make sure that people had clean water coming out of their taps and held a
great minnesota company accountable when it came to the toxins that were being spewed into the neighbors in a particular community. she has been a good consumer advocate, i have stood up and helped pass the consumer financial protection bureau. that is my consumer record, standing up for consumers' financial services and student loan debt. this is why i'm running. that's my purpose. i want to stand with consumers fair well inle this economy. the criminal division has not moderator: been as much of a focus lately in this attorney general's office. mr. wardlow you spoke about rebuilding the criminal law division. what would that look like under your leadership? mr. wardlow: we need to rebuild the division prior to my cache, there was a robust criminal law division. our county attorney, they don't have the resources they need to handle difficult prosecutions when they arise. we need to make sure the attorney general's office provides the support to keep minnesotans fair and safe. we need to provide statewide leadership on things like human tracking. hundreds of kids on a regular
basis, every single month in the state of minnesota, are being sold for human trafficking purposes. i would andgeneral, that. i would put together a plan, working with county attorneys and with law enforcement to put an end to human trafficking. i will fight the opioid epidemic as well. i am not afraid to take on big pharma. but also, we need to fight opioid pushers and stop opioids from coming across the border from mexico and china. that means cooperating with federal authorities on border enforcement as well. i will rebuild the criminal law division and keep minnesota fair and safe. we can't trust keith ellison to do that, because he is a cheerleader for criminals and stands with cop killers. state way, when he was legislator in congress, he opposed a bill to prevent sexual predators from teaching in schools. just let that sink in. moderator: let's give ellison a chance to respond to this question about divisions within the attorney general's office
that may need a little more attention or a little more focused. mr. ellison: this may be one thing that mr. wardlow and i agree on. that the criminal division does need to be strengthened. i think that if it's critically important for every county attorney in the state of minnesota to know, there's no county too far away from the metro to get the benefit and the help of the minnesota attorney general's office as keith ellison said. i will boost up and help with criminal appeals. many of them are struggling to get that work done. when there's a big crime committed in greater minnesota, there are some companies that only have one or two county attorneys. we'll be there to help them. i want every county attorney who is the front line defending minnesotans and protect them from crime. to know that the attorney general's office will have their backs every time. i make that pledge. i'm looking forward to fulfilling that role. we'll coalesce around issues like fentanyl and opioid's.
we will be right there, particularly in our travel communities, fighting to stop sex trafficking and labor trafficking, labor traffic. moderator: let us move on to another topic, immigration. mr. ellison, what role should state law enforcement play in immigration? for instance, should minnesota provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, but not using state or local officials to enforce immigration law? mr. ellison: i do not think that the law enforcement resources of our state should be used to enforce federal immigration law. i do believe contamination is -- i believe that where cooperation is wanted, it should occur, but i don't want our police officers asking people for their papers on the streets of our state. i think it is best to do it in a way that the federal government does its role, the state government does its role. let me say, there are certain areas where i believe the state has a role to play.
i have a particular friend who had looking me up. his bone marrow match, his sister was in tehran. because of the trump muslim then, we had a lot of trouble getting that bone marrow match to the united states. i think that there is a role for the state to play to make sure that minnesotans in minnesota, where they need to dig advantage of the immigration law can get those things done, particularly in situations like this. moderator: would you support using state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law? mr. wardlow: federal law enforcement, these are our neighbors. it's not like some outside force coming in, right? so we need to cooperate with them, this is a nation of laws. but our immigration system is broken. we cannot have cities flouting
federal law, that is making minnesota a place that is less safe. keith ellison stands for or's gone around and campaigned for sanctuary cities. he wants to make minnesota a sanctuary state. that means illegal immigrant who are dangerous criminals will be reported to the federal government. that is terrible and we cannot have a top law enforcement official who wants cities to flout federal law and it's okay with having a sanctuary state and doesn't believe in borders. mr. ellison: again, this is ridiculous. of course i believe in borders. the fact is that, i believe that i.c.e. and the border patrol, they perform a function that is important, but i believe they need reform. we cannot have a situation with children and parents being pulled apart at the border and they don't even know how to put the families back together again. that is not a good thing, i hope you don't approve of that. i also think it is important to
understand -- we are a country where immigration literally helps drive economic and social benefit. we cannot keep pushing this harmful rhetoric that scares you americans they will be held accountable. that's just what the law is. but this scary stuff about i don't believe in borders, this is a myth. it's not true. i hope people pay attention to this rhetoric. >> mr. ellison said recently that he thinks that borders create an injustice in general. >> that's not policy. >> he doesn't really respect our federal immigration authority. these are the facts. >> they are not facts. >> you can look them up. keith ellison can't be trusted as attorney general.
he stands for open borders. that will make minnesota less safe. >> let's move on to another topic. mr. wardlow, if elected, you likely to be weigh in on legalizing recreational marijuana. >> they should consider all angles. they need to look at what's going on in washington state and colorado and they need to enter in that judgment and learn some lessons. that's a legislative question. the attorney general job is to enforce the law. not to pass laws and push policies. keith ellison wants to use the office to push a policy jeopardy. he said it times. all the different policies we agrees with, he wants to use the court and the attorney
general's office push policies bypass representatives of the people. >> if the state legislature were to stay they support legalizing recreational marijuana, would you suspect it? >> absolutely. i will defend that law. it doesn't matter if it's constitutional and it would be. i will defend a law and i will defend all the laws of state of minnesota. >> mr. ellison to you support the legalization of marijuana? >> yes. it should be done carefully and thoughtfully. we should benefit from all the things that these experiences that other states and countries have had. we should keep the monopolies out. that's very important. i don't want to see large marijuana monopoly dominating markets in minnesota. i think we -- we should look at people who have been convicted with marijuana. i do think it's the right policy. noah johnson who was in this campaign, he endorsed my
campaign. he and i agree, we need to look forward on this policy deliberately, thoughtfully, learning from all experience. i think it's an issue that time has come. >> thank you. >> mr. wardlow are you concerned if you legalize recreational marijuana. it was very controversial. what are you hearing from laureate on -- law enforcement on this issue? >> i do have concerns. that is up to the legislature to decide. the minneapolis police union has endorsed my candidacy. they understand i will have their back. if law enforcement is watching tonight, i will have your back. we need to have law enforcement as respected. we need to make sure they have all the resources they need to do their job. >> on the issue of recreational marijuana, have you heard from them on that? it's likely legislature will asker for your advice. >> i will skull with law enforcement. it will be good for lawyer to testify at the legislature.
>> would you be for or against? >> i don't think it's appropriate for attorney general to take issue on a. the job of the attorney general is not to weigh in and make laws. keith ellison thinks it is. >> look. it is just absurd to say that a statewide office holder and a position like attorney general, should not have any political views or any policy views. of course we do. every minnesota attorney general that we've ever had was unafraid to say, this is a good policy but it's the legislature's job to pass. i think this is a good policy, but they need to do this to make it constitutional.
this idea that he doesn't have any views it is not the case. he's been clear he's not for woman's right to choose. he's been clear he wants to put only republicans to fire democrats. it is very clear, he has a policy agenda, he just doesn't want to say what it is. i think it's fair for the people to know. >> you make couple of accusations, your response. >> attorney general is supposed to enforce the law. that's what i will do. it's inappropriate for mr. ellison to suggest that the attorney general should be some kind of bully for the legislature and try to push certain policy agendas. he wants to push a radical policy agenda. he wants to use the office of the attorney general, which is a law enforcement office to push certain policy positions. i want to enforce the law and protect all minnesotans. >> gun laws. something again that the attorney general maybe asked to
address in this next legislative session. mr. ellison there's likely to be more action. what changes in state law you might advocate in terms of fun laws -- gun laws? >> i would suggest we mandatory locks on firearms in homes. there's no good reason to have high capacity clips in the household. when i go hunting for turkey, i take two shells with me. i don't think you need a lot more than that to defend your home. i think that we need to get together with groups that have dealt with the tragedy of mass shooting and one on one shooting and get their advice. studying the effects of gun violence it's critical. i think that these weapons of war like bump stocks just really have no place.
i wrap up by saying, i have seen firsthand, the horrors of irresponsible gun laws. i'll never forget a friend of mine who was killed doubt street from my office. i stands up here for him and his family. >> mr. wardlow, does minnesota need stricter gun laws? >> we have the laws we have are sufficient. this is a legislative question. the legislature should address it. they should hear from law enforcement and hear from all stakeholders and interested parties and the public when making their decision. keith ellison is pushing forward policy positions. he wants to do that with the office of the attorney general. mr. ellison he wishes his party would come out against the second amendment. >> that's not true. >> you want to strip people of their fundamental constitutional rights. >> i'm a gun owner doug. -- i'm a gun owner.
i own guns myself. i use them when i go hunting. the point is, people are being killed in massachusetts shootings everyday. there was a grandmother who some young people who very misguided shooting at each other. missed each other and killed her. this is a grandmother. we cannot stand by while this carnage grows and act like there's nothing can do about it. i will be there to work with legislators, citizens and police and county attorneys to fashion laws that protect people. >> one issue, would you ever favor universal background checks? >> yes. the fact it's a legislative question. what we need to do to keep minnesota safe, we need to rebuild the criminal law
division. make sure law enforcement has training and law enforcement has resources with county attorneys. that's what the attorney general should be focused on doing. waste i will -- that's what i are do as attorney. i will not be pushing a policy agenda and trying to change the law what i think the law should be. i will work with law enforcement and prosecutors and county attorneys to make sure criminals are put behind bars. we can't trust mr. ellison to do that. he has history of cheerleading for cop killers. >> it doesn't matter how many times you say it. it's not true. i think it's ridiculous to assume that the attorney general will not be consulted on how we protect minnesotans from gun violence. the attorney general will be consulted to make sure that minnesotans are safe. of course we're going to respect
the private rights to bear and own arms. we'll make sure people are safe and protected. that's not happening now. >> let's talk about another area where the attorney general is consulted. mr. wardlow, the attorney general has to represent the office. how will you work to have a productive relationship with the governor, who may be of a different party? >> i think it's important for the attorney general's office to work directly with state agencies and try to represent them in all cases when they're enforcing the rules. state agencies hire their own attorneys but you as an attorney it's important to counsel the client when they will do something that's illegal and stay within their limits of their authority. that's important. we need to lift the burden of illegal regulations and unconstitutional regulations
off job creators. i will do than keith ellison here, he stands against minnesota's economy every time it matters. he opposed mining. >> untrue. >> that's true. he opposes pipelines in minnesota that would create dozens of jobs. these are true things. these are fact. you can look them up. it's part of the fact that keith ellison wants to push a policy jeopardy. that policy agenda will be bad for minnesota. >> mr. ellison. back to the issue of working with the governor, potentially with a republican governor. >> i look forward for tim walsh being governor of state of minnesota. i doubt that's not going to be the case. i know jeff johnson. i will work with him. i believe it is important to have an ongoing working relationship with everybody in state government and even at the u.s. attorney's office. we've got to be a team. i'll offer leadership to convene people around the
critical issues. whether it's opioid or what it is, we'll work together for the benefit of the people of state of minnesota. we'll disagree. we will talk in a very concrete way. we will look for ways to get the benefit of the people. >> as far as representing the governor in a court case that may come up, you'll be comfortable representing the governor? >> if it's constitutional, if it's workable, then we'll get together figure out how to do that. people pass laws all the time that are simply difficult to implement. they may conflict with other laws. as long as they are constitutional and not too vague or too irrational.
>> apparently mr. ellison just told us he thinks laws are rational he will not defend them. that's remarkable. i think jeff johnson is going to win. he's a great guy. i'm looking forward to working with governor johnson. the job of the attorney general is to defend and enforce the law. not determine something is irrational or challenge it. >> i am talking about the rational basis test. you know that. >> you want to pick and choose the laws he wants to enforce. he has actually said with respect to laws that might restrict abortion, he will not defend them. >> if they don't comport with the constitution, you better
believe i will not defend them. i believe in a woman's right to choice.nd a woman's that is a constitutional fundamental right and it is found in the minnesota constitution. let's be honest, you don't agree with that. you plan on attacking that particular constitution. >> no i don't. i'm going to uphold the law. >> i will stand by the constitution. like i have done for years as an attorney in private practice. i will zealously advocate for the rice -- rights of my client, and in this case it will be the people of minnesota. we will protect and defend all the people of minnesota. >> there's a michigan case where there was a person that was working at a mortuary. they announced to the employer they were transgender. the alliance for defending
freedom, represented by my opponent fired this man and upheld his discharge because he made this choice about his life. that's not just defending a client you don't agree with. do you agree that gay people have equal rights in america? >> of course i agree with that. >> what about this case in st. cloud where the videographers are seeking the right to discriminate against gay people based on their religious values? do you agree with that or not? >> i don't know the details of that case. i don't believe they were trying to discriminate. i will defend and protect all minnesotans and fight legal rights of all minnesotans regardless of sexual orientation or gender or race. that is the law in the state of minnesota. everyone has equal rights. i will protect equal rights for
every single person in the state. that is the job of the attorney general. >> right now, you have the state of minnesota on one side and the alliance for defending freedom on the other side. business canys a tell people we don't serve people like you here because they are gay and it is state of minnesota says we don't believe in that. this reminds me of whites only stuff. where do you stand on this question? >> our next topic dovetails with this. of you has accused the other of being an extremist. mr. ellison, you said your opponent is a far right conservative. he is out of step with most people from minnesota. that is what you have said. can you give us some examples? >> we can start out with him saying he's going to fire 42
attorneys based on being democrat. that's pretty extreme. he doesn't believe people have the innate right to vote. that is sort of extreme. the alliance for defending freedom he worked for and just took off his linkedin page a few days ago has been , listed by the southern poverty law center as a hate group. that's a fact. i think that's kind of extreme. he has made it clear he's 100% pro-life. in he will use the attorney general's office to push, listey law center as a hate group. that. i think that he said he wanted to change the complexion of the state to elect more republicans. that is on the extreme side. he has not said he'll defend preexisting conditions. i think that's extreme. >> mr. wardlow we'll give you a chance to respond. and to mention some areas where you think mr. ellison is to the extreme. but first, in terms of what he just said about you. >> those things he said are not true. with respect to preexisting conditions, i stand for and
support mandating preexisting coverage, end of story. period. the fact of the matter is, keith ellison broke our healthcare system. he's one who voted for obamacare. we have skyrocketing premiums and deductibles. we nearly have a collapse of access to health care. now what keith ellison wants is more government-run healthcare. if you think health care is expensive now, just wait until .t is free keith ellison has a radical policy agenda he wants to push. he had quite a list there. those things are not true. with respect to alliance defending freedom, the southern poverty law center is a group that defames groups that disagree to raise money. that's all they really do. as long as you're talking about extremism, keith ellison has been associated with louis farrakhan. the "washington post" gave you four pinocchios to you.
you tried to deny your association with him. 19 95 op-ed, you wrote that he is a role model for you. this is the same person who few days ago compared jews to termites. why didn't you condemn it? >> i've condemned words like that. >> there are many other ways that keith ellison is extreme. that is the question here. he did oppose a bill in congress to prevent violent sexual predators from working as teachers in our schools. he said that we don't necessarily need to be tough on crime when he opposed that pill -- bill in the minnesota state house. that's terrible. let that sink in. he has supported and rallied and raised money for cop killers including shareef willis. look these facts up and they are
true. >> let's give mr. ellison chance to respond. that is quite a laundry list. i hope you were keeping track. >> let me say, i believe that everybody is resumption of -- gets the presumption of innocence. if something is accused of something, they have presumption of innocence. i will not apologize for believing that. i believe everyone gets it including people who are accused of sometimes bad things. let's just finish. let me add, i absolutely believe that violent criminals need to be held accountable. i did say we have to be smart on crime. just throwing people in the cell does not necessarily make our society safer.
what we should do, we should make sure that we use the right penalties and we use them on people who need to have those penalties on them. i've been very clear throughout my life that i believe in the rule of law, i believe in safety and i strongly believe in the presumption of innocence. we can have a criminal justice system and have due process of law that's essentially where i stand on these issues. >> do you regret even if it's a tangential relationship with olsen or farrakhan? >> over a million people went to the million man march. i was one of them. we thought our society needed -- that is not true at all. i believe that the million man march was a great event. louis farrakhan called that event by the way.
there was a time i thought he had some things to say. that was over 23 years ago that it became clear to me that his value system and mine were not compatible. you know that i have made it clear for the past 20 years that those values are not my values. this is a political thing that my opponents bring up whenever they feel like trying to throw some mud around. i've been very clear. i'm about human rights, liberty and justice for all people no matter who they are. >> mr. wardlow. >> the "washington post" again gave keith ellison four pinocchios for his teams to disassociate himself from louis farrakhan. the "washington post" is not some conservative bastion. it's a mainstream news organization.
>> let me explain that. the "washington post" is trying to push this 2016 -- can i finish? i said look, i was at no such meeting then. i will not dignify any kind of response to this claim they have i was at some meeting. they went and voted anyway because i didn't want to respond to what i thought was a baseless claim. that's what they wrote in response to me saying, that's nothing, i will not deal with it. was farrakhan in the same meeting with along 60 other people. let me tell you why i was there. ahmir hamani was in detention in iran. i went to that meeting to gain the freedom of an american detained.
that's why i was at that meeting. i make no apologies for being there. i will do it again to get an american free. >> several minnesota cities have passed sick and safe time ordinances. there's more laws concerned about wages and theft. mr. wardlow will you support workers while balancing the needs of business owners? >> absolutely. we need to protect workers. i have a history of protecting workers. i have fought for workers for two years. i fought unfairly dumped imports of chinese steel coming into the u.s. we saved hundred and hundreds of jobs in the american steel industry and on iron range here in minnesota. the best way to support workers is to support a strong economy for minnesota. keith ellison, he doesn't do that. he has a opposed mining. he strongly opposed pipelines. he side with radical environmentalists.
keith ellison will be bad for the economy and undermine workers. we need to stand with minnesota workers and for a strong economy. as attorney general, i would make sure that state agencies don't step out of their legal bounds and overburden job creators and i would protect workers by enforcing wage laws. >> mr. ellison? >> i got a long list of union support. you can start with the afl-cio and nurses and teamsters and go on and on. why do they suspect me? they know i support workers. i support workers because i believe that work has to be rewarded properly. workers have a right to voice on the job. now, mr. wardlow is the author of the right to work for less legislation in the house. people tell me about how that went down. even his own party had to pull him off it because they knew it was a bad policy. he's the author of the right to work less bill in the state of minnesota.
i believe that we have to lift wages. >> do you think minnesota should be a right to work state where people don't need to join unions? >> i have come to a slightly different view on that. it doesn't really matter. attorney general office not a policy making job. i will not push right to work or any policy agenda. keith ellison he wants to push a policy agenda. he wants to sue the president. regardless what anyone thinks about president trump, that will be an abuse of powers of
the office. the attorney general is supposed to enforce the law. not make law. he wants to bypass the representatives and use are the -- the court to achieve what he can't achieve in congress. >> my office did a study. we in the dodd-frank act we required a ceo-worker pay will -- that will be published inc corporate documents. in 1968, the average ceo made about 20 times the average worker today it's 339 times. we have to do something to help minnesota workers get fair and decent pay. i will stand up for that. >> we do have a need to make sure that minnesotans get fair and decent pay. i think that the way to do that is by supporting strong economy of minnesota. by making sure state agencies don't overregulate.
every i go in minnesota, i'm hearing this. state agencies are largely out of control and creating problems for job creators. keith ellison will side with people that want to overregulate. he sides with people that want to shut down pipelines in mining. >> let's go back to the opioid issue. i will give you one minute each on this. we're running short on time. mr. ellison, some people think the pharmaceutical industry was responsible for the opioid crises, manipulating the market. is that something i would seek legal action against pharmaceutical industry to address the opioid crisis? >> yes, i would. i'm glad laurie swanson joined the lawsuit. she's suing purdue pharmaceutical now because of
deceptive, tricky marking practices that gave incorrect idea about the addictive power of these drugs. suing these manufactures is important part what we need to do. they should -- compensate victims for the trouble they have caused. now it's laced with fentanyl which is even more dangerous. we need a comprehensive approach. we need drug courts. we need to use -- we need to get medical expertise in on this problem. i think to answer your question, that's a key part what we need >> we do need to hold big pharma accountable for the crisis. i'm not afraid to do that. this is terrible with a terrible human cost. we need to go after companies that are breaking the law. we also need to go after opioid dealers. that means strengthening the criminal division and making sure our attorneys, counter
attorneys, and prosecutors have the resources to do that. we also have two cooperate with federal agents. we cannot solve the opioid crisis if we simply make century states. that will open the door for terrible drugs to come into the state and destroy more families and lives. can see you clearly disagree on a lot of topics. i want to wrap up with this. would you identify a positive quality of your opponent? >> mr. allison has very passionate beliefs. he does believe the things he says. that is a good thing. >> mr. ellison. >> i think he dresses well. his father is a really nice man. i will say that. he is a very nice man and a fantastic role model. >> gentlemen, thank you. before we end this debate, i want to move on to the closing statements.
toh of you have one minute tell us what you learned about your opponent and why minnesotans should vote for you. mr. ellison. >> the core basis of mr. wardlow's campaign is he is a political, he will enforce the laws written. will fire 42y he people based on their party affiliation. he goes on to pledge to use the office to support and defend president trump's agenda. change thewill complexion of minnesota to elect more republicans. that's about as partisan as you can get. view is we need a minnesota attorney general focused on two things. one, making sure minnesotans can afford their lives, they can afford their insulin, their diabetes and medication, their heart medication, and that they have an advocate on their side who will stand up and defend them.
also, we need someone who will stand up for people's human rights. i don't care if you are gay, straight, black, white, if i'm the attorney general, you will be able to walk into any establishment in minnesota and get the human rights everybody should enjoy. thank you. as attorney general, i will fight for, protect, and defend all minnesota's, i will fight for the legal rights regardless of sex, sexual or a tatian, gender, or creed. that is what we will do. ishave learned keith ellison an extreme washington politician. he used the attorney general office -- he wants to use the attorney general's office to stand for a political agenda. he is for sanctuary cities. bypassison also wants to the citizens legislatures and pushes policies. that is unacceptable. he is a regular cheerleader for cop killers.
he stands with cop killers, criminals, he opposed a bill to prevent teachers from being sexual predators -- sexual predators from working as teachers. you can't make this up. when i am attorney general, i will offer something different. i will protect and defend all minnesotans, enforce law, and make sure minnesota is fair and safe. >> thank you both for taking time to participate with us tonight. stay right where you are for the moment. sponsors.to thank our we could not have put on this event without help from metro state. our sponsors, as well. the st. paul area chamber of commerce. prosperity front door and the citizens league, thank you for helping us bring these debates. i hope we got a chance to help minnesotans make an informed decision as we head into election day. >> member of chambers of commerce sponsors as well. twin west, dakota, minnesota county, the dakota
chamber of minneapolis. we want to thank all of them for putting this on. this has been quite an undertaking. something very were, making it available statewide on a sunday night. most of all, we want to thank the candidates before us. and all the candidates who have chosen to be here. >> we did have a busy day of debates. if you didn't catch all of them, we have them online. we spoke with the gubernatorial candidate for the attorney general. with a lot of congressional candidates and candidates in the race for senate. all of that is found online with all of our political coverage. >> we want to thank metro state for providing this before building with a backdrop of the downtown st. paul. it has been outstanding. the people in the audience have been very quiet. now they can applaud. [applause] thank you for taking part in this great democratic exercise. that is it for our debate. >> c-span's washington journal,
live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. up thursday morning, democratic strategist steve mcmahon and republican strategist tom harris talks about the best and worst political acts of the 2018 elections. boston college law school professor reimann off joins us to discuss an inheritance tax laws. c-span'se sure to our washington journal, live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. join the discussion. jamesday on c-span's q&a, mahon, author and resident of johns hopkins university school of advanced standard national studies, talks about his biography of president george w. bush. >> i don't really worry about my legacy. i'm still studying theodore roosevelt. or harry truman. not going to be an
objective history done on this administration for a long time. it's not too soon to judge. -- >> it's not too soon to judge on some aspects of his legacy. it's not too soon to judge on the war in iraq. why? because it didn't accomplish what he thought it was going to accomplish before he started the war. it cost 4000 plus american lives, $2 trillion, i think -- i write in my book and i don't think this judgment will change. it was one of the biggest strategic blunders in american history. >> james mahon, sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies. today, we continue to bring you
unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >> new jersey democratic senator bob menendez is up for reelection, running against ex marine and pharmaceutical company mid -- executive bob houston. they took heart in a debate hosted by nj tv in newark, new jersey. welcome, mr. menendez, welcome mr., houston. good to have you here. let's get started. let's start with your 62nd opening statements, beginning with mr. hugh been. >> great to be with you. i'm joined by my wife and my daughter. my son's are serving in the u.s. marine corps, not with us.