Cornyn, Hegar spar over virus and Supreme Court in Senate debate as he holds 8% lead in new polldfwnewsa | October 10, 2020 | 0 | Texas News
AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and his Democratic opponent, MJ Hegar, butted heads Friday night in a debate over a host of timely issues — the coronavirus pandemic, race and policing, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The two appeared together in Austin as Cornyn leads challenger Hegar by 8 percentage points, 50%-42%, in his bid for a fourth term, according to a newly released University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
During the debate, Cornyn repeatedly bashed Hegar as a puppet of Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., suggesting her views are too liberal for Texas. She in turn challenged him to train his attacks on her and argued he has lost touch with the state after 18 years in the Senate.
Cornyn stuck to his efforts to yoke Hegar to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, warning they want to “make Texas more like California and New York.” He argued “respect is on the ballot” — respect for Medicare recipients, energy workers and law enforcement officials who he said would be hurt by national Democratic policies.
“Hi, I’m MJ Hegar, I’m a Purple Heart combat veteran and a working mom of two, and I am your opponent,” Hegar told Cornyn at one point. “I am the person you’re running against, as inconvenient as that is for you. It’s my ideas and my support in this state that you’re going to have to face in this election.”
The debate covered several issues that have dominated headlines in recent months. On the pandemic, Cornyn touted the early coronavirus relief package that he supported in Congress and lamented gridlock over more recent proposals, while Hegar suggested it is “time for him to step aside” and let people like her negotiate aid.
Both candidates were asked if they would support another “national lockdown” if there is another coronavirus surge and scientists recommend such a move. Cornyn said he does not “believe that we need any lockdowns” going forward, citing damage to the economy and emphasizing personal responsibility. Hegar responded by suggesting Cornyn was giving short shrift to science and saying, “Yes, I think we need to partner with public health experts.”
Asked if they support a national mask mandate, Cornyn said he did not, saying the United States — as well as Texas — is a “big, diverse place” and advocating for local control. Hegar did not give as precise of an answer, agreeing that “different parts of Texas are different” and calling for a “national strategy” that takes into account science and metrics.
A moderator asked Cornyn and Hegar to raise their hands if they would get a coronavirus vaccine once it is available. Both raised their hands, though as he did, Cornyn said he would “eventually get it, but not first in line.” Hegar said she understood there is reason to be concerned about the “politicization of science” in the Trump administration but voiced faith in the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to deliver a vaccine.
When it came to the Supreme Court, the two rehashed familiar arguments over whether Republicans were being hypocritical by rushing through President Donald Trump’s latestassociate justice nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, so close to an election. But they also elaborated on some ancillary issues, including court packing and term limits for Supreme Court justices.
Hegar had already said she was not for adding justices to the Supreme Court “at this point,” but the moderators pressed her to say how she would vote if she were her party’s deciding vote.
“I think it would depend on the way the arguments were presented to me,” Hegar said. “Right now the only arguments I’m hearing are how it would benefit one party over another.
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