McMullin accuses Lee of betraying Constitution in first and only Senate debate
OREM, Utah — Sen. Mike Lee and challenger Evan McMullin went head-to-head in their first and only debate Monday night, in the state’s tightest race in the midterm election.
The debate kicked off with some common ground as both candidates expressed opposition to excessive federal spending. McMullin stressed the need to stand up to both parties.
Lee pushed back on that point multiple times, telling the audience inside the Ragan Theater at Utah Valley University that he did stand up to former President Donald Trump on certain issues and policies.
Just minutes into the debate, things really got heated after moderator Doug Wright asked the candidates about the 2020 presidential election and the events in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.
McMullin accused Lee of trying to find fake electors and attempting to overturn the will of the people in the 2020 presidential race.
“Senator Lee, that was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s constitution in its history by a U.S. Senator, I believe. And it will be your legacy,” McMullin said.
The audience erupted into boos and applause.
McMullin just accused Lee of betraying his oath to office, referring to text messages surrounding the 2020 election. That led to both applause and boos in the room. Lee told McMullin that’s not true and he owes him an apology. Then defended his actions.
— Matt Rascon (@MattRasconNews) October 18, 2022
But McMullin wasn’t finished.
“You are doing a tremendous disservice to this country, Senator Lee. You have betrayed your oath to the constitution with this,” he said.
Lee pushed back saying sternly, “Evan, that’s not true. You know that’s not true. You, sir, owe me an apology.”
Lee noted he voted to certify the election and he insisted “there is absolutely nothing to the idea that I would have ever support — ever did support — a fake elector’s plot. Nothing.”
In a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll last month, 36% of those surveyed said they would vote for Lee. Thirty-four percent said they would vote for McMullin and 16% didn’t know.
The Deseret News called this the closest statewide election in Utah in decades. It’s grabbed national attention as democrats and republicans try to win control of the U.S. Senate.
In a recent interview on Fox News, Lee pleaded for his colleague Sen. Mitt Romney’s support. Romney has said he would not endorse either candidate in the race.
McMullin drew a contrast between Lee and Romney during the debate, praising Romney’s ability to stand up to both parties and work across the aisle.
The opponents also covered inflation, student loans, abortion, foreign policy and immigration among other topics. Wright had to remind the audience multiple times not to react, but he failed to keep them silent throughout the broadcast which included laughter, applause and more boos.
After the debate, McMullin attributed the close race to “the power of our message of unity and truth in opposition and as an alternative to the politics of division and extremism and lies.”
“I think we were able to have a spirited discussion and I think people saw where there are areas of commonality and where there are major differences,” he said.
Lee told reporters, “there is a difference between the two of us. If you want to counterbalance Joe Biden’s policies, you need a republican majority in the Senate. And I am that Republican.”
In response to McMullin’s criticism throughout the debate, Lee said McMullin’s “base wants aggressive, fierce, harsh attacks — even baseless attacks if necessary — and he delivered.”
The timing of the debate is significant. It comes just three weeks away from election day and in the same week county clerks are expected to begin sending out mail-in ballots.
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