Michigan governor’s debate features accusations of lies, with abortion front and center
Each candidate was asked if she would respect the outcome of the referendum that will appear in November’s ballot in Michigan, in which voters will decide whether or not to insert language in the state constitution guaranteeing the right to abortion.
Both said they would honor the results of the ballot initiative, and both accused the other of lying about the claim.
« She’s a little confused about a constitutional amendment because this is a governor who time and time again thought she was above Michigan’s constitution, » Dixon said. « I believe in the right of the people to decide. »
« It’s really ironic when Mrs Dixon stands here and says she will accept the will of the people, » Whitmer replied. « He is a candidate who still denies the outcome of the 2020 election. »
Dixon was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and Michigan’s powerful DeVos family, winning her party’s nomination after a GOP primary mired in chaos. After the debate, Dixon told reporters it was the « right » of Americans to question the election.
“It is normal to question the results of the election. … That doesn’t mean you’re not going to accept the will of the people. It’s ridiculous,” Dixon said.
Asked by the debate moderator to precisely define her position on abortion, Dixon said she was « pro-life with exceptions for the life of the mother » and did not say whether she would authorize a rape lawsuit. or incest. She then argued that she would not have much power over the issue if elected.
« A judge has already ruled on this case, » Dixon said. « The governor has no choice but to override a judge or a constitutional amendment. »
Whitmer disagreed that a governor’s hands were tied on the issue, noting that his lawsuit against the 1931 ban was what prompted the judge’s ruling.
« Ms. Dixon is either woefully underinformed about what office she’s running for, or she’s lying to you, » she said. « The governor will absolutely impact those rights. »
In an interview with POLITICO earlier in the week, Whitmer added that the governor has many other tools to shape reproductive health care in the state, touting his administration’s work this year allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control — and, just this week, applying for a federal Medicaid waiver to expand coverage for STD testing, contraception, and other services to 25,000 low-income people who don’t currently qualify.
Whitmer has led in several polls, although that lead has narrowed to single digits in recent weeks. She also benefited from stronger campaign funds, according to the Associated Press.
Dixon, who acknowledged she may be speaking to some voters for the first time, first introduced herself as a mother — and as a critic of Democratic policies on education and schools.
Echoing GOP rhetoric in state races nationwide, Dixon asserted that Michigan kids were learning “sex and gender theory, not…reading, writing and doing math.” Asked about school safety, she advocated for schools to be “toughened up” and more armed police on campuses.
Whitmer described Dixon’s stance on guns as « dangerous ».
« She’ll put the Second Amendment in front of sophomores every time, » the governor said.
Dixon and Whitmer are due to debate again on October 25.
Alice Miranda Ollstein reported from Grand Rapids and Olivia Olander from Chicago.