PORTLAND (WGME) – CBS 13 hosted a debate between the three candidates for U.S. Senate for Maine on Tuesday night, with some of the questions leading to heated moments between the candidates.
The very first question of the debate was about the mass shooting in Pittsburgh over the weekend, and what each candidate had to say about President Trump's comments on bodyguards at places of worship. That question lead to multiple topics of discussion, including Democrat Zak Ringelstein saying he's unhappy with Republican Eric Brakey's negative comments on refugees and immigration.
Ringelstein says that Brakey made a comment about Mainers being replaced by refugees, and Ringelstein says comments like that can lead to violence.
"Violent rhetoric leads to violent actions, Eric this is disgraceful, you should be ashamed of yourself, and we shouldn't have somebody who is frankly sympathizing with neo-Nazis on our stage right now," Ringelstein said.
State Senator Eric Brakey says that Ringelstein's accusations were false, and that he was "desperate" for votes.
"You're doing a lot of name calling. You're doing a lot of ad hominem attacks, and frankly that quote is, not even the words I said," Brakey said.
Independent incumbent Senator Angus King remained neutral through most of the early fights, but found some criticism from Brakey during a debate about Chinese tariffs and trade policy.
Brakey says Senator King "flip-flops" on votes too often, and demonstrated that through his on and off support of NAFTA. Brakey says that type of positioning on political debates makes King unfit for the position.
"At the end of the day, you're a fake, you're a phony, you're a fraud, and you're not being honest with the Maine people. It's time to stick to a position and take it," Brakey said.
Senator King says that Brakey has his facts wrong, and that there's nothing wrong with changing your position on something over time with new information and new perspectives.
"To say that because I help promote exports from Maine in order to help build the economy, that that is somehow a flip from being skeptical of NAFTA, that just doesn't pass the straight face test," King said.
Each candidate talked about different issues they want to focus on if elected, and some mentioned what they believe others are doing wrong.
"I liked Angus King, but he doesn't support Medicare for all, he voted for a pipeline bill, he voted against equal pay for women, and he takes money from banks and predatory student loan companies, we can do better in 2018, we must do better," Ringelstein said.
"I believe in a better deal for Maine, I believe in better jobs, and we can achieve that, by getting Washington D.C. out of our way and out of our wallets," Brakey said.
"The opioid crisis which we talked about tonight, is a tremendous challenge, seniors anxious about healthcare is a tremendous challenge... but there's hope as well. There's new jobs and new businesses coming... I think that's important," Senator King said.
To watch the full debate, click here.
CBS 13 will also host a gubernatorial debate on November 1. That debate can be watched on CBS 13, as well as on CBS 13's Facebook page and WGME.com.