MINNESOTA

Debate Focuses on Keystone, Foreign Policy

Oct. 2, 2014, 7:29 a.m.

Sen. Al Franken (D) and businessman Mike McFadden (R) debated for the first time Wednesday in a largely cordial back-and-forth. McFadden used the “97%” statistic (for Franken’s voting percentage with his party) so many times that Franken joked, “I’m sorry, what was that number? Let me write it down or I’ll forget it.”

“Al Franken,” McFadden countered, “is the Ted Cruz of the Democratic party.” (MSNBC)

McFadden said he believed “the biggest single issue in this country is we’ve created a professional class of politician and it’s killing us,” citing a study that showed Franken voting 159 out of 161 times with his party. Franken responded by “ticking off the names of” Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), “with whom he’s co-sponsored bills.”

“McFadden accused Franken of holding up energy projects like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, overburdening rail lines tasked with hauling oil instead of other goods. Franken acknowledged that he voted ‘to not circumvent the regulatory process,’ but said he also voted for a proposal that would ensure that the Keystone pipeline, if it’s built, would be done with American steel, seizing on a comment by McFadden over the summer that he would opt for Chinese steel if that saved taxpayer money.”

“Both men agreed on combating the increasingly powerful Syrian group known as Islamic State through targeted airstrikes and arming and training of moderate Syrian rebels. Though McFadden lauded Franken’s decision to vote with Obama on airstrikes, he chastised him for a lack of foreign policy strategy, and faulted him for not doing enough about terrorist recruitment at home in Minnesota.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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