tv Campaign 2020 Minnesota U.S. Senate Debate CSPAN October 5, 2020 10:59am-11:53am EDT
today, 2020 democratic presidential candidate joe biden and his wife will be hosting a campaign event in miami's little havana at 4:00 eastern. >> income but minnesota senator tina smith debated republican jason lewis. senator smith was appointed to the senate when the seat was vacated by al franken and 2018 and she won a special election to fill the remainder of the term. in lewis is a representative minnesota from 2017 to 2019. ♪ michael: this is npr news. one of the key races is for u.s. senator.
mccright tina smith is a former lieutenant governor, was first appointed by governor mark dayton early in 2018, and she won a special election two years ago. if she wins this year, it will be for a full six-year term. a republican component -- opponent served a term in congress from minnesota's second district. tina smith and jason lewis joined me remotely this hour as part of our meet the candidate series, to talk about the issues facing minnesota and the country. there aren't a lot of rules for our conversation today. i will ask you a series of questions. i ask you to keep to the issues, even though you are running for senate, we don't need to fi i ask you not to filibuster. one firm rule i will enforce is that you cannot talk over each other. lk over each other. it sounds bad on the radio, people will turn us off, and nobody will hear what you have to say. i will give you each a minute at the start and the end to make the case why voters should pick
you. i flipped a coin before we started, jason lewis, you get the first minute. why should you be the u.s. senator for minnesota? sen. lewis: thank you, and thank you all for doing this. i guess we can filibuster well we've still got the chance. because our friends on the others of the aisle having their way, there will be no electoral college, no filibuster, new statehood, and they will pack the supreme court. that's one of the things that will come out of this debate, you don't mess with the court, you don't mess with the separation of powers, you don't threaten to pack the court until they rule your way. that's a full frontal assault on judicial review, even fdr was shut down when he floated the idea. ruth bader ginsburg thought it was a horrible idea. that's a threat to self-government and our constitutional republic. when we talk about a supreme court nominee and amy coney barrett, let's make certain we are going down a very dangerous path of packing the supreme court. also, we have to talk about
public safety. everything has changed since this summer, the riots, everything happening across minnesota and this country. either you will back law enforcement and make certain we don't have one bad apple and smear an entire profession, which we wouldn't do for everyone else, but we do it for law enforcement. mike: that's a minute. tina smith, why are you the best choice this year? sen. smith: good morning. thank you, mike and minnesota public radio for hosting this debate, and everyone out there listening and sending in questions. in this moment, minnesota families are facing a health crisis, and an economic crisis brought on by this pandemic. we are also in the midst of a racial reckoning that is long overdue in this state and country. we really are all in this together. we all have to take responsibility. us, as wetouch any of have seen again this morning, with the news the president and
first lady have contracted covid. and we all wish them a speedy recovery and the very best. in the midst of this worry and uncertainty, and division like i have never seen before, i want you all to know we are working hard for you in washington. i have listened to you and have gone to work with democrats and republicans to pass more than two dozen pieces of legislation, including lowering prescription drug prices, expanding world broadband, supporting mental health, and making covid tests free for everyone. there's so much more to do, and i look forward to the conversation ahead. mike: jason lewis, it's hard to ignore the news of the day. you were with president trump on air force one wednesday, and his rally in duluth. have you been tested? what is your status right now? sen. lewis: i have been tested about four times in the last four weeks. the president and vice president have been to minnesota so often, as you know. when you get together with them, you get tested. and we maintained social distancing. i talked to the president at a
distance. but as a matter of precaution, we will quarantine until i can get to the doctor and get tested, as the way we should do it. which is always the way we should do these things. you should test and quarantine. those who are vulnerable, been exposed, who are sick. but a second great depression by locking down the country again, which vice president biden and tina smith want to do, is not the answer to solve this disease. so we will take the normal precautions we would, but we will not tell people who are otherwise healthy they can't go about their business. mike: let's stay on the topic of the pandemic. it's killed more than 200,000 americans, more than 2000 minnesotans. it's had a major impact on the economy. what should the u.s. government do? what would you support in the senate to both keep us safe and allow businesses and other public laces to reopen and get back to normal? sen. smith: thank you. us, as covid has shown
someone said in southern minnesota, we are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. it's a public health and economic crisis. it's personal for minnesotans. it is your jobs, families, businesses, well-being. my approach has been bipartisan, to work across the aisle to get support to families, small businesses, and hospitals, especially rural hospitals. the trump administration's response to the covid pandemic has been a disaster. there's been a lack of coordinated strategy, a shortage of testing and personal protective equipment, and as we sit here today, we have lost over 200,000 americans. what i think we need to do next in the senate is first we need to continue for bipartisan solutions to get help to small businesses and individuals. we need to get help to our schools and state and local governments. we need a national testing strategy, which i am pushing for
with my republican colleague from louisiana, dr. bill cassidy. and we need a plan for free vaccines. this is a bright spot for us in the pandemic, vaccines that are safe and effective. we need to keep the political interference out of the rollout of the vaccines. when ready, we need to make sure they are free for everyone. that's legislation i'm working on in the senate. mike: jason lewis, what would you do to get the country out of this, and what would you do in the senate to get us there? sen. lewis: the first thing i would do is pass covid relief, which my opponent has opposed three times. they are still opposing covid relief. they say on one hand it's a next essential threat, h1 and one had 60 million infections, not 7 million, but they say it's a next essential threat. but joe biden's campaign yesterday said they were going to start door knocking again. no word in the wake of the news today. you have nancy pelosi say "come
to chinatown, it's not a problem." bill de blasio saying the same thing. the real crisis is new york, new jersey, and minnesota, where you took covid positive patients out of the hospital and put them in a long-term congregated living facility and nursing homes. our ndh was doing that. governor walz administration was doing that. no criticism from tina smith. what you do is exactly what we have been saying you do, quarantine those who are sick, protect the vulnerable, and have the health authorities give recommendations to the rest of the country and treat them as adults. and we will get through this together. but we can't go through, as i said earlier, these massive shutdowns and lockdowns, and now biden, harris, and a smith plan is to have a federal shutdowns. you will not cure this with another great depression. give the covid relief. we are flattening the curve by any standard. now we are seeing spikes in cases. we see hospitalizations down double digits since the summer,
and covid mortality dropping like a rock. that's good. mike: tina smith, do you support a nationwide shutdown? sen. smith: there is no such thing as a nationwide shutdown. here are the facts. the most important thing we can do to get our economy back on track to running back at full steam ahead is to deal with the public health crisis we have. that's the most important thing. there's is a clear difference between my opponent and this approach i have taken. i have had strong support for bipartisan bills that have gotten help to minnesotans. i'm proud of that. in the senate, you get things done when you compromise, when you reach across party lines to make a difference in people's lives. has said compromise makes him nervous. he has said in this issue about whether people should be wearing masks or not, he has ridiculed public health experts, said they are part of the deep state, he pushes conspiracy theories that
are exaggerated, and he sued the governor. this is not the way to get things done for minnesotans. the way to get things done is to reach across party lines, to find common ground, and focus on people's lives and what you can do to help them. that has been my approach. mike: jason lewis, if you -- if you and second -- the president had been wearing masks the other day, you wouldn't have to be in quarantine for two weeks, right? and lewis: your question tina dodged the point about a federal mask mandate. i'm opposed to a federal mask mandate. i think it's unconstitutional. joe biden has said he's in favor of that. i would like to hear the senator's view on that. hawaii had an indoor and outdoor mask mandate. what happened this summer? cases increased. this is a contagion. it's tough to control. you go about your business and do the best you can protecting the vulnerable by not putting covid positive patients in nursing homes. but if your point is we are
going to shut down every resort in northern minnesota, we will tell kids they can't go back to school, we will block economic progress, you are never going to get to the bottom of this, because you need economic growth to cure the disease, develop a and there appeared it's. that's my point. mike: tina smith, jason lewis said you voted against eight packages -- eight packages in the senate. you have. what kind of packages should the senate pass? who should get the help? sen. smith: i'm glad you raised that. this is a place where former congressman lewis is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. we have passed bipartisan legislation and have gotten things done because we passed bipartisan legislation. as congressman lewis likes to point out, the legislation i voted against. let me explain that. when republicans in senate put together partisan legislation that doesn't meet the need of minnesotans, i voted against those legislations.
do you know what happened? we came back together and improved those pieces of legislation in order to get the help minnesotans needed. i voted against legislation the republicans put forward that had zero help for minnesota schools and national schools, and we negotiated, compromise, and got dollars for schools. i voted against legislation that had zero dollars for state and local governments and travel governments. and we negotiated, compromise, and got resources republic services. that's what it looks like when you get things done in the senate. i'm proud of that work. mike: should there be another aid package? -- smith, i willa get back to you, jason lewis. sen. smith: yesterday, the house of representatives passed another aid package, another effort by democrats to compromise and find common ground. work betweenficant
speaker pelosi and secretary mnuchin. unfortunately, that hasn't borne fruit. the republicans in the senate have been completely on the sidelines, offering no solutions and not moving us forward. it's unfortunate, because i talk to small businesses in minnesota, families, people worried about their schools, and we need to come to our resolution on this. mike: jason lewis, what kind of package would you support in the senate to help people out in all of this? sen. lewis: indeed, facts are stubborn things, senator. you voted against three covid packages that would have gone directly to minnesotans, not state government, not other governmental organizations, right to minnesotans. there's a trillion dollar package sitting there right now that democrats are holding up. those are the facts. if you are holding up an aid package because you want incarcerated felons to get the vote, you know your heart isn't in the right place. that has nothing to do with covid.
that was one of the demands in one of the previous covid relief packages democrats were demanding. there's a bill right now ready to go, and democrats are holding it up. i would have voted for all of the first three packages i mentioned, including the one mitch mcconnell has on the table right now. but in the final analysis, we have to get the economy going again, not just packing relief package after relief package. if the government shuts down the economy, they have an obligation to help people out of work. but tennessee, florida, a number of states are getting their economies going, and minnesota isn't, sadly. mike: we are talking with jason lewis, the republican candidate for u.s. senate. tina smith is the dfl senator and is running again this year. all of the voters in minnesota will get a say of this and decide who serves the next six-year term in the senate. let me change the subject to police and public safety, a huge issue, especially after the death of george floyd at the hands of minneapolis police
officers on memorial day, and everything that followed after that. jason lewis, what would you do as a senator to ensure all people, especially people of color, receive equal justice under the law? sen. lewis: it's not a matter of what i would do, it's what i did. when i reach across the aisle with representative bobby scott, a liberal democrat from virginia, we reauthorized the juvenile justice reform act, which had been sitting dormant for 15 years. i reached across the aisle with a number of democrats in my term in the house of representatives. we were moving in the right direction on criminal justice reform. not just my juvenile justice reform act, which didn't put young first-time offenders in jail with hardened criminals, gave them a career in technical education, instead, but also the first step act. but one injustice doesn't solve another. the riots in the wake of all of these tragedies are simply uncalled for. joe biden saying antifa is an idea, not an organization. medically, these pile of bricks
-- magically, these pile of bricks show up in chicago , minneapolis, portland. you have them costing millions of dollars in damage and you call them peaceful protests? there are problems when your government doesn't back law enforcement. i do. once you don't back law enforcement, the word gets out quick to people who want to do damage to life, liberty, and property. i don't believe that, and i think my opponent does when she talks about the dangerous role police play in society, or crazy comments like "it's a privilege to call the police." that is dangerous stuff for minnesota. i'm not going to support that. unfortunately, tina smith does. mike: tina smith, how do you ensure everybody gets justice in this country? sen. smith: everybody should feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods and communities. the murder of george floyd in minneapolis has shown a bright light on how this is not the case in our state and our
country. this is a moment where i believe we have laid bare at the inequities and scrim and nation that exist in our criminal justice system and policing. it is our responsibility, a call to our humanity to look at this and address it. so what do we do about this? i support commonsense reforms that will bring more accountability and transparency, and more justice to policing. the justice and policing act, which i suppor and -- support, which would ban chokeholds and racial profiling, and the no-knock warrants that are what were the forerunner of breonna taylor being murdered in her own bed. i support changing the rules so police officers who violate people's rights and use excessive force can be held accountable. i support a national registry for police conduct. officers can't jump from one jurisdiction to the next and not be held accountable for their
excessive in another place. i understand these issues, because i worked as chief of staff for the mayor of minneapolis and as lieutenant governor. i worked closely with law enforcement. i have seen what happens when good cops are trapped in a system where there is no accountability, and you end up with what we have today in this country, where far too often, people of color are much more likely to be the victims of excessive force and violence. mike: what about the people who rioted? what about the property damage after the killing of george floyd? sen. smith: i condemn -- we all condemn violence, arson, and looting. if you break the law, you should be held accountable. everybody deserves equal justice in this country. in this moment where we are facing the realities of racial inequity, i have to say to listen to our president in the debate earlier this week fail
repeatedly to condemn white supremacy. it took him two days to be able to get the words out that he condemns white supremacy. to hear him call on the proud boys, a violent white supremacist hate group, to call them to standby is the exact kind of thing we don't need in our country. and i have not heard my opponent condemn that. this is a moment where we need to come together around our shared values and not be driving us apart more and more, which is the path the president and my opponent want to lead us down. mike: jason lewis, will you condemn white supremacists? sen. lewis: of course, we all condemn them, including the president months ago. but i believe in due process. including for law enforcement officers. that's the difference between myself and tina smith. she is in this reimagined the police mode with the bernie sanders manifesto, which nobody knows what it means, except the
minneapolis city council, who is voting to defund the police and blame them. she wants to take away qualified immunity from policeman and women. i'd like to say i didn't know much about cops until i married one. . i can tell you from personal discussions, that's a dangerous thing. if you want police men and women to do their job, but you are going to sue them, and when they make good faith incisions in a split second, that's what tina smith supports. the tim scott bill, which collected data, addressed the chokeholds, did the rest of the things, she opposed it because it didn't take away qualified immunity for law enforcement. that is not backing the blue. that's a huge distinction. the fundamental problem right now, and i have talked to 20 businesses in minneapolis and st. paul, most of them owned by people of color, and to a person that said we don't have a problem with too many police, we have a problem with too little police. we need them on the streets. now police are resigning in minneapolis in droves.
three chiefs of police, who are all people of color, in rochester, dallas, seattle, were driven from their jobs by the antifa mob and by this obsession with going after cops. that doesn't help people of color, they are people of color who were chiefs of police trying to do their job. who speaks for them? i am going to. mike: what about the qualified immunity issue? how do you restore that trust in the police department, tina smith? sen. smith: as i said, i believe we need to change the rules so police departments and police officers can be held accountable. that is too often not the case right now. but if you listen to my opponent, what you hear him trying to suggest is we face in this country a choice between law and order and rioting and mayhem in the streets. but of course that isn't the choice. the choices what do we do to have public safety for everyone in this
mike: jason lewis? mr. lewis: it started by abolishing ice, going after border patrol, and now they are going after police. this is a question between law and order and riots. you can't have $2 billion worth of damage, riots for 100 straight days in portland, oregon, the minnesota city council defunding the police and then getting their own private security. anybody who's got this defunding the police should go without capitol hill security, senator. this is hypocrisy at an unbelievable level. they want to put people in danger in communities, and most of them in communities of color, but now it is spreading everywhere, and yet they don't give up their own security. that's a little rich. you can't do anything without public order, so we need to address public order, and we can address all of these issues. which we all support. but you can do it with riots in the street every night. mike: do you want to defund the police? sen. smith: no, i do not. i do not want to defund the police. i have said that consistently. those are the facts. the most important thing is we have to understand there are things we need to do to improve the way public safety works in our society. we need to address the underlying challenges that could result in a lack of safety in society. but is not about being against police officers. as i've said, i worked closely with the minneapolis police department, and i have seen many fine cops that go above and
beyond to keep people safe. the question is how can we make sure the systems of policing which too often have racist outcomes are fixed so everybody can be safe? mr. lewis: one more thing, mike. she talks about not now being for defunding the police. that wasn't the rhetoric coming from her earlier on when she was right there with the minneapolis city council, talking about righteous protest and reimagining the police, which she has never defined. there's a reason i have the endorsement from the minnesota police officers association, the minneapolis police federation, because they trust me to back those people on the street. it is spreading every ridge. got restoree have public order. and we can address all of these issues we all support, but you can't do it with riots in the streets every night. mike: do you want to defund the police? sen. smith: no, i do not. i do not want to defund the
police. i have said that consistently. those are the facts. the most important thing is we have to understand there are things we need to do to improve the way public safety works in our society. we need to address the underlying challenges that could result in a lack of safety in society. and that is not about being against police officers. as i've said, i worked closely with the minneapolis police department, and i have seen many fine cops that go above and beyond to keep people safe. the question is how can we make sure the systems of policing which too often have racist outcomes are fixed so everybody can be safe? mr. lewis: one more thing, mike. one more thing there. she talks about not now being for defunding the police. that wasn't the rhetoric coming from her earlier on when she was right there with the minneapolis city council, talking about righteous protest and reimagining the police, which she has never defined. there's a reason i have the endorsement from the minnesota
-- the fraternal order of police in minnesota, the minnesota police and peace officers association, the minneapolis police federation, because they trust me to back those people on the street. they don't trust the senator. they don't trust the senator. mike: let's move on to a different subject, because our time is fleeting. there were some stories in the news this week. not necessarily the front page. i will give you some headlines. 70,000 people remain evacuated in california's wine country. the greenland ice sheet is on track to melt at a faster rate than seen in 12,000 years. four tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in the august storm that hit iowa and caused an estimated $6 billion in crop damage alone. so the question is -- i heard this from a number of listeners -- what will you support to combat climate change? how much will it cost, and how will it impact to the economy? jason lewis, let me start with
you. mr. lewis: the good news is we are at the lowest rate of co2 emissions since 1985 in the united states. we are doing our job. i can tell you, the rest of the world will not do it as long as they are trying to grow their economy, whether it's china, india, or any other country. and that's the problem with the paris accords and everything else. they basically put real punitive damages on america, but they don't do anything about the rest of the globe, and it's the same sort of environmental problem with mining on the iron range, which my opponent opposes. if you are going to farm that out to china, it's not going to be environmentally sound. but the question is, what would you do? i think there is a way to mitigate some of these effects, but i would not embrace a $93 trillion new tax called the green new deal, which my opponent would not oppose in the united states senate. the question becomes, is the best way to mitigate things to
close the iron range, doesn't get the bridge built because you've got a war on fossil fuels? i would not do that. mike: senator smith, what would you support on combating climate change? sen. smith: with the west coast burning up and so many hurricanes in the gulf and in the atlantic that we had to move to a whole new alphabet, there is no doubt climate change is real and we need bold action to address it. i think about how minnesota innovation has led the way in so many areas in health care and agriculture. and minnesota innovations can lead the way on addressing climate change. we can do this in a way that makes energy more affordable, that gives us more control over our own energy, and creates jobs and opportunity for minnesotans. that is what i am for. in the senate, what i've done is to work on bipartisan legislation to expand research into renewables to expand research into solar and wind,
and also carbon capture and storage. i've authored legislation which would create the clean energy standard that provides regional flexibility for states to approach it in the best way possible to get us to net zero carbon emissions in the electricity sector. minnesota is a land of renewable energy with biofuels, as well, which creates a path for us to both create jobs and create opportunity. the united states and minnesota can lead on clean energy, or we can hand that leadership off to other countries like china. i think we should lead. i think it is going to create opportunity for us. and we cannot ignore this. we cannot bury our heads in the sand with the impacts of climate change. mike: jason lewis? mr. lewis: i would love to continue with this topic. the fact is china is not leading the way in green energy. they are polluting, and the more we farm out to china, the more pollution we get globally.
take a look at what has happened in california. they want to ban the sale of the internal combustion engine in 2035. i oppose that. the governor and i presume my opponent want to adopt california's emissions standards. and now, they have rolling blackouts because they have farmed out their traditional sources of power. when there's a drought or heat wave, everybody wants to import that electricity. and california is competing. that is not a good future for minnesota to have rolling blackouts, nor are the forest fires when you don't manage forests. we've got this underbrush that serves as a tinder because we cannot manage our forests, and it's a real threat in the boundary water area. we have to make certain we do that. if you look at the consequences of what the senator proposes, it's a california style consequence where they are banning cars, they have rolling blackouts, and they can't make
ends meet. some of this technology is not possible in the foreseeable future, and that's why you've got to build enbridge line three, which will be a cleaner way to deliver crude to minnesota's largest refinery which was in my congressional district. mike: tina smith, i'll give you a last word to react to that. sen. smith: again, you see the inflexible my way or the highway approach that i don't think is going to get us anywhere. and it is not going to get us to passing legislation in the united states senate, which should be our goal. to make headway on this most important problem. i believe there is great opportunity for minnesota. we have some of the best solar and wind resources of any place in the country. that creates opportunities for us in minnesota if we seize the opportunity and we move on it. that is what we should be able to do, and that is what i will work for in the united states senate when minnesotans send me back. mike: we are talking with senator tina smith and her republican challenger jason lewis. this is mpr news.
the supreme court, we mentioned it earlier. senator smith, would you support a move to add members to the court? sen. smith: i am not going to go there. i have no idea what the world is going to look like. i think what we should be focused on is what is at stake with the supreme court nomination. what is at stake is whether or not minnesotans and americans are going to be able to keep their health care, and whether women's reproductive rights are going to be protected. sitting before the supreme court to be taken up by justice barrett if she is confirmed is a case led by the trump administration to overturn the affordable care act, and that would mean millions of americans who rely on insurance for pre-existing conditions would lose that protection. millions of americans would lose their health insurance if the affordable care act is overturned.
something my opponent says he thinks should happen. in this moment, minnesotans and americans need to lift up their voices and asked themselves, is this the kind of supreme court we want? is this what we want to see happening in the middle of a global pandemic? we should not be thinking about throwing people off their health care and taking away protections for pre-existing conditions, and this is the most important thing. mike: what if it is the supreme court we have and you are reelected and back in the senate next year? what is your alternative? how do you fix that? sen. smith: i am not considering anything about packing the court. that is not what i am looking at, but what i am focused on is i will not concede this is over. we have seen examples of this. i want to remind americans that when everybody thought all was lost with the affordable care act and there was another vote in front of the senate to repeal the affordable care act, americans lifted up their voices
and spoke out, and by one vote, a handful of republicans came over to protect the affordable care act. i will not concede there are not a few republicans who will see this nomination is the wrong thing for our country. also, this hypocritical power grab that mitch mcconnell is using to force this lifetime appointment through when we are literally in the midst of an election, i think americans and minnesotans see right through that. and it is not what they want. we can see that. mike: jason lewis, a hypocritical power grab -- isn't that why democrats are considering something to change the makeup of the court? the number isn't in the constitution. mr. lewis: first of all, you don't get to be a senator from minnesota without telling people what you are going to do. tina smith is pulling a joe biden. well, i'm not going to go there. that's not an answer. you are either going to pack the
court and undo the filibuster, which is in the senate rules, and majority leader schumer said extensivel he would do it, so yr disagree with him or agree with him, but you've got to tell people where you stand. packing the court will take this country from a constitutional republic to a banana republic. ruth bader ginsburg said a couple of years ago presidents don't get elected for three years. they get elected for four. in 2016, we elected a president trump. in 2018, we expanded the republican majority. and that is the difference between 2016. they want their officials to do their duty. as for the notion of the notion of the affordable care act, the affordable care act is not up to be overturned. it's up for a question on severability, whether one section of the bill if it were unconstitutional, if it would undo the whole thing. the president says that is not the case. what senator smith is saying, i want a litmus test. i want a litmus test on how you are going to rule the aca and
what daniel patrick moynihan called infanticide, partial-birth abortion and in some cases abortion for babies who survived abortion is in the constitution. i vehemently oppose that. i am pro-life. more importantly, you don't tell a judge to telegraph what they are going to rule on a case before they heard the facts. i have no idea how amy coney barrett is going to rule on this and nor would i dare to ask her. that is what senator smith is saying, my way or the highway. where have we heard that before? i want to know how you are going to come out on these issues before i say "aye." that is not the purpose of the senate confirmation. you are looking at judicial philosophy, not a preview of how they are going to rule. mike: congressman lewis, wouldn't merrick garland argue that the president should be able to appoint a justice? mr. lewis: the president did. mike: and republicans didn't
give him a hearing. how can you argue it's a fair process if now president trump can appoint his and get her confirmed? mr. lewis: because we have had an election, and the election was a republican president was put in place. so when president obama, who by the way thought in his fourth year of his presidency that he should nominate someone, and he did, and it was a republican senate whose job was to give advice and consent. they said no. but you had different parties controlling two different branches. today, you have the same party in the white house, and they expanded the senate majority. that's the will of the people. if you are talking about the will of the people, the will of the people said i want a republican president, i want a republican senate. that is what is moving this nomination forward, but packing the court, giving statehood to d.c. and puerto rico, banning the electoral college, doing everything you can to stay in power is not the will of the people.
i even forgot the fact that for the last three years, we've been engaged in a false russian conspiracy hoax tried to undermine an election. the democrats' entire line has been, this is what the people voted for. what can we do to stop it? mike: tina smith, have you made up your mind before hand? are you trying to subvert the will of the people? sen. smith: we all know that judge barrett has been nominated to the supreme court by this president. because, as he said, he would only nominate people to the supreme court who he knew would overturn roe v. wade, overturn the affordable care act. the former congressman is trying to distract everyone from something that is important, which is the importance of the affordable care act and what is at stake with the affordable care act.
and he has said he does not support the affordable care act and he would support legislation, which would strip away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. now think about this, we've had over 100,000 minnesotans who've been diagnosed and recovered from covid. that is a pre-existing condition. now, he will tell you that he supported legislation that had language of pre-existing conditions. but what he won't tell you is that same legislation would've allowed insurance companies to go back to the bad old days and charge anybody anything if they had a pre-existing condition or if they were a woman or senior. an outside independent analysis -- analyst has said that under his proposal, premiums would have gone up 20%, and 20 million americans would've lost their insurance because they could afford it. this is exactly the wrong direction to be going, especially in the middle of a pandemic. mike: jason lewis, quick response. mr. lewis: outside independent analysts.
i wonder. those are called democrat consultants. the cbo said our legislation would've dropped premiums anywhere from 20% to 30%. the bill i supported had this language, folks. "nothing in this act shall be construed as permitting insurers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions." kennedy kassebaum had the same kind of language. that was universally passed. the real danger to health care is what tina smith supports in a public option, which would destroy medicare as we know it. an outside consultant said it would close 49 rural hospitals, and kirsten gillibrand, her colleague, said of the public option is a transition to single-payer. that would devastate the health care markets. it would be a government takeover. the reimbursement rates would drop, and we would be rationing ue in the near distant
future, which is why i oppose a single-payer system. mike: tina smith, one more chance to respond. sen. smith: everybody in this country should have access to high-quality health insurance they can afford no matter who they are or where they live. that is why we should be focusing on improving the affordable care act, not tearing it down, we should be focusing on supporting medicare, which is such an important part for our health insurance for seniors, not undoing it. my opponent who supported half $1 trillion in cuts. we should be looking at shoring up what we have and making it better and moving to a place where everybody has access to health insurance they can afford. and that is why i support the public option, which would allow people to choose to buy into medicare if they wanted to, and if they wanted to keep the insurance they have through their employer, that would be their option also.
mike: let's move to a different topic. president trump said in duluth this week that if joe biden is elected, he will turn minnesota into a "refugee camp." he said we were one of the "hardest hit states" when it comes to refugee resettlement. overall, are refugees a good thing or bad thing for minnesota? have their contributions been positive or negative? jason lewis, let's start with you. mr. lewis: look, i think the refugee process for political persecution is a long-standing tradition in america that i wholly support. the question becomes, are we now taking refugees in, which are very costly, and some figures $80,000 to settle a refugee in minnesota, are we taking them in not for political persecution, which was the design of the program, or just sort of an open borders policy where anybody can come in, and it costs the minnesotan taxpayers a ofamerican taxpayers a lot money to do that?
the key in front of local control in this situation is very much like sanctuary cities, which my opponent supports. they say, if you are going to cooperate with ice, we are going to be a sanctuary city. and not enforce federal law. we had a number of counties up north that said, we want to say how much we can afford, how many refugees we can take to manage our schools, our social services, so we want to have that local control. not unlike sanctuary cities. i definitely supported that last winter. i did a town hall supporting those people, and i would continue to support local control. i think they have to have a say. mike: tina smith, where are you on this refugee resettlement question? the trump administration has proposed reducing the number from 18,000 last year to 15,000 next year, and even the 18,000 is an historically low level of resettlement. what do you think about refugees in minnesota?
sen. smith: minnesota has a long tradition, proud tradition of welcoming refugees and asylum-seekers. it is part of our faith tradition. these refugees make our communities stronger. they make them more resilient. they are fueling our creativity. they are fueling economic growth. when you go to main streets all over minnesota, whether you are looking at minneapolis, east lake street, or lake street in wilmer or worthington, you can see the entrepreneurial activity and the contributions refugees are making in this state and country. to hear the president of the united states with mr. lewis beside him maligning refugees, using such hateful language to talk about our friends and neighbors who live here who are contributing to our society was a terrible thing to behold. it was shameful.
we need desperately to reform our immigration system in this country. we need to undo the inhumane trump immigration policy that has ripped children away from their parents at the border. i have gone down and i have seen that firsthand. we need to undo what this administration has done, and we need to reform our immigration system. so that there is a path to citizenship for dreamers. we need to reform how are -- our internal immigration works. we need strong borders. we need strong borders to keep things like african swine fever out of the united states. we need to improve how our legal immigration system works. i'm actually quite proud that one of the things i was able to get done even in a time with immigration that has been so divisive was to create a path to citizenship and to address the long-standing needs of the minnesotan liberian
community with their ded status. that is the kind of thing we ought to be able to do on a bipartisan basis, and i am hopeful. back in 2013, the united states senate passed immigration reform in a bipartisan way. 68 members, democrats and republicans, voted for the kind of proposal i described, and we can do that again. mr. lewis: we ought to stick with this. thank you. minnesota right now has the highest number of political refugees per capita in america. the cost can be as high as $80,000. every local government, if you have been traveling minnesota, senator, would tell you that their budgets are being busted because of some of these costs. they literally can't handle it. the question becomes, are you going to put minnesotans first, or are you going to put amnesty and open borders first? i want to know whether you think refugee status should be granted for political persecution or any reason?
i think it should revert to its original intention of political persecution. and then we have an open door policy. we can't go around abolishing ice, getting rid of border patrol, and having opening borders which you have been advocating. america cannot sustain that. i would add one more thing about compromise. i voted for two bills in the house of representatives that would've had a fix for dreamers, including a path to citizenship, and yet nancy pelosi said no go. why? because we wanted $5 billion for a wall. i'm for a wall, my opponent is not. but she is for amnesty. that's the difference. mike: tina smith, are you for open borders and amnesty? sen. smith: once again, my opponent is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. i have never said i am for open borders. that is ridiculous. this hateful language that is designed to drive us apart is
exactly what we do not need in this country in this moment, and to suggest that immigrants in minnesota or around this country are a burden to be borne rather than contributors, taxpayers, entrepreneurs, is all wrong for minnesota. mr. lewis: would you support the law as it is written for political persecution? i do. do you? mike: do you want to answer that, senator? sen. smith: i believe that our tradition of allowing refugees and asylum-seekers to come to this country to build a better life is what we should be doing, and i believe there are people coming to this country that are escaping extreme violence and persecution, and we should not close our doors to those individuals. mike: let me change the subject because we are running short on time. i had a question from a listener. how do you think early voting
will go? are you worried about election procedures? are they fair and secure? will the results something you can count on, and the larger context is, will you agree to a peaceful transfer of power? senator smith? sen. smith: can you imagine that here we are in 2020 and you have to ask the question of whether we would agree to a peaceful transfer of power. a peaceful transfer of power is the bedrock of our democracy. it has been a consistent element of every election we have had since george washington handed the keys over to john adams. of course, i support that peaceful transfer of power, and it is shocking the president of the united states has been unable to say those simple words. i want minnesotans to know that we have one of the best election systems anywhere in minnesota. i'm so proud of what we do.
we have one of the highest voter turnouts of anyplace in the country. and minnesotans can know that our elections are safe and secure. you can vote early in person, by mail, or on election day if you choose to do that. i urge you to do that. mike:, jason lewis, any problem with the voting system? are you confident it will be a fair election? mr. lewis: i am willing to accept the results of the election and will be happy to be sworn in early next year. that will be a peaceful transition, i guarantee you. the bottom line is it was hillary clinton who said, whatever you do, mr. biden, don't concede. imagine somebody saying that. if it was tina smith and joe biden running around the country saying, if the election goes the wrong way, there will be more violence. these are not delegates to the republican national convention in the streets rioting and not being prosecuted by local democrat officials. they are hard-core democratic-socialist leftists.
that threatens the peaceful transition of power. when you have a coup being enacted by the doj, which the director of national intelligence said the hillary clinton campaign got a source from a russian disinformation specialist to get a false affidavit to go to a secret court and spy on their opponent, that is not abiding by the peaceful transition of power. by the way, it's why i voted against fisa reauthorization. mike: we are just about out of time, so i promised i would give each of you a moment at the end. jason lewis, you've got a minute to make your final pitch. mr. lewis: i think so much of this is about the will of the people. when you've got a party that, as i mentioned a moment ago, didn't abide by the peaceful transition of power in 2016 and was spying on their opponents, and more of that evidence comes out every wantedbi agents saying i out of this thing because i knew the ig was going to find some bad stuff,
that is not abiding by the peaceful transition of power. but then again, neither is ending the filibuster to pack the court. you don't like the election, and you threaten to ban the electoral college. you've got a group of people and quite frankly the mobs in the street who are leftists and are saying we are going to to do and say anything for power. those are the sort of people who shouldn't have it. my opponent is not backing law enforcement. my opponent is not coming down hard on antifa, and i would like hear her to say antifa is not an idea, it's an organization. we've got to get back to restoring order and ending the perpetual lockdowns and putting minnesota first in energy, logging, and mining. mike: all right, tina smith, one minute to make your final argument. sen. smith: thank you so much, mike. i think you have heard real differences between me and my opponent. i am a doer, not a talker, and i think that compromise is a virtue, not a vice, which is why i've been able to get so much done for you in washington. i think we should protect
medicare, not undo it. i think we should improve the affordable care act, not repeal it and throw millions of americans off their health care in the middle of a pandemic. this is what is at stake in this election. are we going to come together and build forward, or are we going to follow this path of division and fear and chaos by donald trump and my opponent have laid out today? almost three years ago, i became your senator. two years ago, you sent me back to washington. and i go to washington every day to fight for you, for your health care, your retirement, your family's opportunity. i think we need leaders in this moment who are going to do the work and get it done. i ask for your support to continue that today. mike: republican congressman jason lewis, senator tina smith, thanks so much. that is our friday program. thanks for tuning in. i'm mike mulcahy.
>> our 2020 coverage continues. view ofyour unfiltered politics. today, 20/20 presidential candidate joe biden and his wife will be hosting a campaign event in miami's little havana. what live on c-span. evening, they participate in a televised debate. watch live at 7:00 eastern or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> they took part in a debate sponsored by montana pbs. president donald trump won