Warren, Diehl debate tax cuts, marijuana

  • Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren participates in a U.S. Senate debate with Republican challenger state Rep. Geoff Diehl, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (Frederick Gore/The Republican via AP) Frederick J Gore

  • Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl participates in a U.S. Senate debate against Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (Frederick Gore/The Republican via AP) Frederick J Gore

  • Carrie Saldo, of WGBY-TV, served as moderator during the Massachusetts U.S. Senate debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican challenger state Rep. Geoff Diehl, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (Frederick Gore/The Republican via AP) Frederick J Gore

  • Supporters of Republican challenger state Rep. Geoff Diehl gather for the Massachusetts U.S. Senatorial debate against Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (Frederick Gore/The Republican via AP) Frederick J Gore

  • Supporters of Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren gather for the Massachusetts U.S. Senatorial debate against Republican challenger state Rep. Geoff Diehl, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Springfield, Mass. (Frederick Gore/The Republican via AP) Frederick J Gore

  • Republican Geoff Diehl, left, is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the November general election. AP FILE PHOTOS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/22/2018 12:22:36 AM

SPRINGFIELD — Democratic U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren and her challenger, Republican state Rep. Geoff Diehl, on Sunday debated topics ranging from taxes to fishing and from marijuana to guns.

But in the hourlong debate hosted and broadcast by WGBY, both candidates repeatedly returned to their chief line of attack against the other.

For Diehl, 49, it was his accusation that Warren wasn’t going to serve in the Senate for another full six-year term if elected, and that she is preparing to run for president in 2020.

“I will be your full-time senator for the next six years,” Diehl said.

He also criticized her for campaigning in other states this election cycle.

“She wants to be president, we all know that,” said Diehl.

Warren, 69, meanwhile, repeatedly tried to tie Diehl to President Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign he co-chaired in Massachusetts.

“He has defended Donald Trump’s ugly rants,” said Warren. “He has embraced his dangerous policies.”

Supporters of Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate and Trump supporter running for U.S. Senate who was not included in the debate, interrupted a question from moderator Carrie Saldo to Diehl about Warren’s Native American heritage.

“Where’s Dr. Shiva, the real Indian?” said one of the protesters, who stood up and revealed a “Shiva for Senate” shirt.

“Let Shiva debate!” and “There’s three candidates on the ballot, not two!” were shouted by other supporters, all of whom were swiftly removed from the studio.

In the debate and in her post-debate interview, Warren did not rule out a run for president, although she did not speak to it directly. However, she defended going around the country to campaign in other states.

“I want some allies down in Washington,” she said.

On the issues, both candidates said they supported Massachusetts’ marijuana industry being able to operate free of federal interference. Warren took the debate’s marijuana question to point to a bipartisan bill she has co-sponsored with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that would do just that.

“Why isn’t it law?” said Warren. “The Republican majority with Mitch McConnell won’t bring it to a vote.”

Diehl said he viewed the matter as one of states’ rights. He also said he objected to the Massachusetts Legislature raising the tax on marijuana beyond what was approved under the ballot question that legalized the drug. He said this tax increase would undermine law enforcement by making it so marijuana is still sold illegally.

On the question of balancing gun safety and the jobs at Springfield-based American Outdoor Brands Corp., formerly Smith & Wesson, Warren said she didn’t see a conflict, bringing up measures like expanding background checks. She blamed the lack of the advancement of federal gun safety regulations on the National Rifle Association, which she noted had endorsed Diehl.

“The NRA holds Congress hostage,” she said.

Warren did not mention banning specific types of guns.

Diehl, for his part, said he is a supporter of national reciprocity for gun licensing, which would make it so people who are licensed to carry in one state can carry in another. Diehl said this could be used to spread some of Massachusetts’ gun safety laws across the nation for this universal licensing.

Warren leapt on this.

“What he’s talking about is let Texas make the rules,” she said.

Diehl, however, pushed back, saying that by being a Republican he would be able to influence the conversation in a Republican-controlled Senate.

“I’ll have a seat at the table,” he said.

Both candidates said they didn’t support raising the Social Security retirement age to 72. However, they clashed on the president’s tax cuts.

Diehl said that the tax cut is providing new jobs and has slashed unemployment

“Record (low) unemployment,” said Diehl. “Massachusetts is actually beating the national number.”

Warren, however, said the tax cut is a scam that is increasing the deficit and giving billions to giant corporations, while giving the Republican party the excuse to put Social Security and Medicare on the “chopping block”

“I will never vote to cut Social Security,” she said. “I will never vote to cut Medicare.”

In the debate, Diehl repeatedly pointed to his leadership on the Yes on 1 Campaign of 2014, which repealed automatic increases to the gas tax.

“I took on special interests to repeal the index gas tax,” he said.

Warren said that serving in the Senate has been the “honor of a lifetime.”

“I think Washington already works too well for the wealthy and the well-connected,” said Warren. “I go down there every day to fight for working families.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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