Gov de­bate

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called “creepy.” Whit­mer run­ning mate Gar­lin Gilchrist III was fac­ing crit­i­cism — and a clean-up order by the city — for a blighted du­plex apart­ment he owns in Detroit.

Schuette sug­gested the 1989 video clip was heav­ily edited and called it a “Planned Par­ent­hood, Demo­crat hit job on me.” He quickly piv­oted to Gilchrist, say­ing he was more in­ter­ested in a video of a Detroit neigh­bor de­mand­ing the Demo­cratic lieu­tenant gover­nor can­di­date fix up his va­cant build­ing.

Whit­mer said af­ter the de­bate that her cam­paign had known about Gilchrist’s prop­erty but was not fully aware that im­me­di­ate ac­tion was needed. “He’s do­ing his best to get it reme­died, and I’m confident he will,” she said.

Schuette’s wife Cyn­thia, a former WOOD-TV news anchor, down­played the archival footage of her hus­band while stand­ing be­side him af­ter the de­bate. Many peo­ple have made com­ments they re­gret 30 years later, she said, call­ing his in­ter­ac­tion with the woman in the video “silly, flir­ta­tious and stupid.”

Schuette came out ahead in the de­bate, if only marginally, said Bill Bal­lenger, an an­a­lyst and former GOP leg­is­la­tor. But he ques­tioned whether the Fri­day night fo­rum would be enough to help Schuette rise in the polls.

“I just find it very hard to be­lieve that the de­bate is go­ing to change very many minds,” Bal­lenger said.

Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion

The Mid­land Repub­li­can said he wants to make Michi­gan “a jobs state, a pay­check state, and a growth state.” Res­i­dents al­ready lived through “one lost decade” un­der former Gov. Jen­nifer Gran­holm,” he said, call­ing Whit­mer a “dis­ci­ple” of the Demo­crat who left of­fice eight years ago.

“Mas­sive tax hikes which would crush job cre­ation, more man­dates that would stop eco­nomic growth and gov­ern­men­trun health care,” can’t go back.”

Whit­mer touted her work in the state Se­nate to help term-lim­ited GOP Gov. Rick Sny­der ex­pand Med­i­caid el­i­gi­bil­ity un­der the Affordable Care Act. More than 660,000 res­i­dents are now en­rolled in the Healthy Michi­gan plan.

“I’m proud of that work, but make no mis­take, health care is on this bal­lot for gover­nor be­cause my op­po­nent fielded nine law­suits to re­peal the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “He ap­par­ently didn’t think eight was enough. He used our tax­payer dollars to try and rip health care away from peo­ple.”

Schuette said the fed­eral health care law known as Oba­macare “didn’t work” and ex­plained that he filed law­suits be­cause of its “un­con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity.”

“But ev­ery time I did, I said I sup­ported con­tin­ued pro­tec­tions for peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions,” Schuette said, ac­cus­ing Whit­mer of be­ing a “cap­tive of big in­sur­ance.”

She is the daugh­ter of a former Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michi­gan chief ex­ec­u­tive and has ac­cepted po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions or­ga­nized by the state’s largest in­surer. The Blue Cross po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee has also do­nated to Schuette.

Whit­mer fired back, telling Schuette “you’ve been in of­fice for 33 years and you’ve never done a darn thing to ex­pand health care

he

said. “We ac­cess for any­one in this state.”

In a sep­a­rate ex­change on ed­u­ca­tion, Schuette ac­cused Whit­mer of do­ing lit­tle dur­ing her time in the state Leg­is­la­ture, where only three bills she spon­sored were signed into law. He ac­cused her of be­ing a “cap­tive” to the ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ment in Lans­ing.

Not­ing she was a mem­ber of the mi­nor­ity party through­out her ten­ure, Whit­mer said Schuette “and Betsy DeVos are the es­tab­lish­ment of this state,” ref­er­enc­ing the U.S. sec­re­tary of ed­u­ca­tion who helped push school choice and char­ter school poli­cies in Michi­gan.

Clean wa­ter, smooth roads

With emerg­ing chem­i­cal con­tam­i­nants like PFAS threat­en­ing wa­ter sup­plies around the state, Whit­mer said she would cre­ate a De­part­ment of Great Lakes and Fresh Wa­ter to fo­cus on clean wa­ter ef­forts. She didn’t say what would hap­pen to the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity.

She said she’d also ap­point a wa­ter om­buds­man “to make sure that when some­one com­plains, they won’t be ig­nored for two years,” jab­bing Schuette over com­plaints launched by Flint res­i­dents dat­ing back a year be­fore he launched a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Schuette said he wouldn’t apol­o­gize for his Flint in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which has led to charges against 15 lo­cal and state of­fi­cials and some plea deals, and em­pha­sized his ded­i­ca­tion to jus­tice for the fam­i­lies there.

“Flint is a city where too many peo­ple played pol­i­tics with peo­ple who lived there,” Schuette said.

Whit­mer said she would “ex­pe­dite the re­place­ment of pipes” and ac­cused Schuette of de­lay­ing ac­tion in the city early on in the lead con­tam­i­na­tion cri­sis. Flint lead­ers say they ex­pect to re­place the lead pipes in the city in the next cou­ple of years with fed­eral money.

Schuette said he’d also work to fight wa­ter con­tam­i­nants and praised a pro­posed tun­nel to house the Line 5 oil pipe­line in the Straits of Mack­inac.

But “Whit­mer wants to build more govern­ment,” he ar­gued. We just need to have govern­ment run prop­erly. No more taxes.”

On roads, Schuette said Whit­mer’s plan to spend $2 bil­lion a year on ad­di­tional fixes would force a ma­jor gas tax in­crease, call­ing it an “ex­treme agenda.”

Whit­mer called his cri­tique “non­sense” and said Michi­gan res­i­dents want “se­ri­ous so­lu­tions” to a long-run­ning prob­lem.

“We’re all pay­ing a Repub­li­can tax right now ev­ery time we re­place a wind­shield, ev­ery time we re­place a tire,” she said.

As part of her plan to fix roads and other ag­ing in­fras­truc­ture, Whit­mer has said she’ll ask the Leg­is­la­ture to ap­prove new user fees, such as gas taxes or reg­is­tra­tion fees. If law­mak­ers refuse, she has vowed to push a statewide bal­lot pro­posal for bonds the state would even­tu­ally have to re­pay with in­ter­est.

Schuette said he wants to fix roads with­out in­creas­ing taxes by re-pri­or­i­tiz­ing ex­ist­ing state spend­ing, a pro­posal some ex­perts be­lieve is un­re­al­is­tic given his sep­a­rate push for a $1 bil­lion in­come tax cut.

Both can­di­dates said they would re­peal the 2011 pen­sion tax and touted their sup­port from dif­fer­ent law en­force­ment as­so­ci­a­tions af­fected by the tax.

Nas­sar pros­e­cu­tion

Schuette touted his work to en­sure sur­vivors could share their “pro­files in courage” dur­ing the sen­tenc­ing for former Michi­gan State Univer­sity gym­nas­tics doc­tor Larry Nas­sar, and crit­i­cized Whit­mer for fail­ing to tackle the case while in­terim pros­e­cu­tor in Ing­ham County.

“You didn’t do your Schuette said.

Whit­mer said she al­lowed the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice to han­dle the case be­cause they were best po­si­tioned to do so. She asked Schuette to stop us­ing the case as a cam­paign is­sue.

“I’m proud of the work that we did, but we need a gover­nor who is go­ing to step up for sur­vivors,” Whit­mer said.

Whit­mer’s of­fice helped get search war­rants that led to a fed­eral

job,” child pornog­ra­phy con­vic­tion. Schuette, the at­tor­ney gen­eral, ended up pros­e­cut­ing the Michi­gan State Univer­sity and USA Gym­nas­tics sports doc­tor on sex­ual as­sault charges in Ing­ham and Ea­ton coun­ties.

Former U.S. At­tor­ney Pat Miles, a Whit­mer ally whose of­fice charged Nas­sar in the child pornog­ra­phy case, vouched for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee.

“She told the truth about the Nas­sar pros­e­cu­tion,” Miles said af­ter the de­bate. “Bill Schuette did not. Gretchen Whit­mer did her job.”

Schuette said the coun­try needs a hope­ful and wel­com­ing im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, not one that al­lows for sanc­tu­ary cities. He said Whit­mer would cre­ate a “sanc­tu­ary state” and wants to get rid of the Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­tom En­force­ment agency.

“We need to make sure we have a set of rules and ev­ery­one plays by the rules,” Schuette said.

Whit­mer de­nied want­ing to abol­ish ICE be­cause “you know what that doesn’t fix the prob­lem. The prob­lem is in the White House.”

On plans to cut Michi­gan’s sky-high auto in­sur­ance rates, Whit­mer said she’d move to end “redlin­ing” by pro­hibit­ing in­sur­ers from us­ing non-driv­ing fac­tors like ZIP codes or gen­der to set rates. Schuette said driv­ers need more choices to pur­chase plans with dif­fer­ent cov­er­age lev­els. Both blamed each other.

Schuette again noted Whit­mer spent 14 years in the Leg­is­la­ture and “did noth­ing” to lower auto in­sur­ance rates. Whit­mer noted that as at­tor­ney gen­eral for the past eight years, Schuette could have worked to stop price goug­ing, sug­gest­ing he might have taken ac­tion to lower rates “if cam­eras had shown up.”

Whit­mer and Schuette have agreed to par­tic­i­pate in a sec­ond tele­vised de­bate on Oct. 24 in Detroit, where WDIV an­chors Devin Scil­lian and Kim­berly Gill will ask the ques­tions in a one-hour fo­rum that starts at 8 p.m.

Wood TV

Both cam­paigns were nurs­ing wounds, Bill Schuette em­bar­rassed by archival footage, and Gretchen Whit­mer’s run­ning mate fac­ing crit­i­cism.

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