Burr, Ross debate the issues in bid for Senate

Candidates spar over health care, support for presidential candidates

Christine T. Nguyen—The North State Journal
Sen. Richard Burr speaks Monday

DURHAM — On the heels of North Carolina’s second gubernatorial debate, candidates for one of the state’s two U.S. Senate seats had their chance Thursday to offer voters differing opinions in a televised debate sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation. Republican incumbent Sen. Richard Burr traded points with challenger and former director of the North Carolina ACLU, Democrat Deborah Ross, on support for party presidential candidates, the Affordable Care Act and H.B. 2.A seasoned politician and well-versed debater, Burr was asked specifically of his support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump amid a plethora of scandals regarding his character.”I have concerns about both candidates,” said Burr. “I have more concerns about Hillary Clinton because of her lack of judgment.”While Burr admitted Trump has character flaws, he said when faced with the current choices for commander in chief it is an easy decision, despite Ross’ claim that Trump lacks good judgment.”I think a lack of judgment is a decision to put top secret and special access programs on an unsecure server where our enemy can access it,” said Burr. “I think bad judgment is when one chooses to lie about emails to the American people and to lie about things like Benghazi where four Americans lost their life.”Pressed on her support for Hillary Clinton considering the Democrat presidential nominee’s own litany of high-profile scandals, Ross said simply that she did not approve of the way Clinton has handled classified information.”I believe that the way Hillary Clinton handles her emails was inappropriate,” said Ross. “She has said so and I have made it very, very clear from the beginning of my campaign that she did not do well by her emails.”On the issue of the Affordable Care Act, Ross admitted the system is broken, but stated it is better than the alternatives and she would have voted in favor of the legislation had she been in the U.S. Senate in 2009.”The Affordable Care Act clearly needs to be fixed, but it is much better than what we had before,” said Ross. “Sen. Burr doesn’t like Obamacare, but he also wants to have the private insurance companies be in charge.”Burr contends that is happening already within the framework of state and federal exchanges.”Obamacare is run by private sector insurers,” replied Burr. “Those are the people that are in the exchanges.”He continued to list the laws failures to accomplish its goals, and said it is a preview of what his opponent’s party wants to double down on.”Government-run health care is already here and it’s called Obamacare,” said Burr.Regarding ISIS and the Syrian civil war, the candidates mostly agreed on needs for safe zones and American-enforced no-fly zones over Syria.”In Syria, making sure there’s no-fly zones in order to protect refugees, or folks that would become refugees, would be a good first step,” said Ross.Burr’s position as chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence provided him more gravitas on the subject.”Now is the time to create safe-zones so these women and children can go to bed at night and be safe, leverage our Middle Eastern gulf state partners, who have offered 30,000 physical troops to maintain the physical security, and use our air power to tell the Russians and the Syrians: fly anywhere near here and we’ll shoot you out of the air,” asserted Burr.Considering H.B. 2, Ross claimed the legislation has harmed the state’s economy and brand, while Burr said it was the proper reaction to the misguided actions of Charlotte City Council.”I’ve been opposed to H.B. 2 since the beginning because it discriminates, it is a federal issue, and it hurts our economy and good name,” said Ross. “Everybody needs to be safe in the bathroom, but House Bill 2 has been a bad mark.”Burr said he hopes after the election that both Charlotte and the state legislature will reverse themselves, but doubted it is having significant effects on the economy.”North Carolina has got the fourth-fastest growing economy in the country,” said Burr. “We’re still attracting business every day to North Carolina. We might of missed a few people like PayPal — their loss in my estimation.”The senatorial candidates are essentially tied in recent polls going into the final few weeks before Election Day.