by Michael Lyle, Nevada Current
Sam Brown said Adam Laxalt didn’t do enough to save Donald Trump in 2020.
Laxalt, meanwhile, wouldn’t say if elected to the Senate he would vote to retain Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as Republican Senate leader.
And both Republican candidates for U.S. Senate refused to say how they would vote on federal legislation to outlaw abortion throughout the entire United States.
Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general and failed 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate, and Brown, a retired Army captain whose fundraising has surprisingly nearly kept pace with Laxalt’s, made their remarks in a first debate, which was held at a curiously early hour Monday morning.
Both candidates, who are running to see who will face off against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in November, appeared on the Northern Nevada television program Nevada Newsmakers at 8 a.m. Monday.
Brown criticized Laxalt for failing to promote “election integrity” and protect the Second Amendment.
Nevada Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske investigated claims of massive voter fraud and alleged by the Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans and found no evidence to support the accusations. Laxalt has been a prominent backer of the Big Lie, a Trump-supported conspiracy that widespread fraud altered the results of the 2020 election.
Laxalt called Brown’s accusation that Laxalt didn’t do enough on Trump’s behalf “pretty comical.”
Laxalt, alongside former Trump campaign representative Ric Grennell, announced a Trump campaign lawsuit in November 2020 trying to stop the counting of “improper votes.” The next month, Laxalt was one of the lawyers filing a suit against Cegavske claiming “many noncitizens may have voted” in Nevada’s 2020 election. Both suits were thrown out of court or lack of evidence.
During his exchange with Brown, Laxalt said he was “not in charge of any lawsuits” adding that he was merely co-chair of the campaign.
“I was not in charge of litigation on his campaign,” he said. “They hired lawyers and they filed the lawsuits.” Trump is “just as disappointed as I am that lawsuits came late to the state of Nevada and came late to a lot of places,” Laxalt said.
Laxalt has repeatedly said that he intends to file preemptive lawsuits challenging “fraud” in the 2022 election.
Brown also faulted Laxalt for lack of action during the 2016 election, saying, “you knew in 2016 noncitizens did vote and you did nothing about that.”
“President Trump does not throw away his endorsement lightly,” Laxalt responded. “And the reality is he has endorsed me in this race because he knows I did the best I possibly could standing up for our elections in a state where at the end of the day had a Democrat governor and two Democrat majority houses that went in and changed the rules. Unfortunately there was nothing much we could do about that.”
Laxalt has received endorsements from a slew of prominent Republican figures including Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Mr. Laxalt relies on endorsements because Nevadans can’t rely on him,” Brown said.
Nevada Newsmakers host Sam Shad, one of the debate’s moderators, asked Laxalt three times if he plans to vote for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to become majority speaker again if Republicans regain the Senate.
“I would vote for the most conservative person who runs for leader of the Senate,” Laxalt repeated each time.
Brown, who didn’t answer the question directly either, said that he has a “feeling that Mr. Laxalt owes Mitch McConnell his vote because he’s endorsed his campaign.”
For the majority of the hour-long debate, Laxalt and Brown attacked Cortez Masto for her stances on immigration, claiming she hasn’t done enough to secure the border and prevent “illegal immigration.”
Both blamed “massive spending” on a federal level and lockdowns during Covid-19, which started during the Trump administration and were implemented on a state-by-state case, as a contributing factor to rising inflation and issues with the supply chain.
“I think we need to have a president who would go to work on fixing the supply chain and we need to stop spending money,” Laxalt said.
He didn’t offer any specific policy proposals for combating either issue other than not going back to lockdowns and “lifting the government regulations and all the inhibitors of the private sector being able to take off.”
The Federal Reserve recently raised interest rates by half a percentage point in attempts to fight rising inflation.
Brown blamed “career politicians” on inaction, called the Federal Reserve “a partisan tool of the administration” and argued the Fed should be “raising interest rates at a much more aggressive level to combat inflation.”
“They are talking about maybe doing a half point here and a half point there,” he said. “No. The answer is when we have runaway inflation that is the highest it’s been in over 40 years, they should be raising rates at two and a half points.”
Shad followed up by asking Brown if raising interest rates would plunge the country into a recession, something economists have warned could happen.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be pretty or easy, but I’m talking about what we need to do is ensure that we’re doing the right thing even if it does cause temporary pain,” Brown said.
At the beginning of the month, a draft opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States showed it was gearing up to overrule the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which would create a patchwork of access to legal abortion across the United States.
Neither candidate, both of whom are running on “pro-life” platforms, would say if they would support federal restrictions on abortions.
“Roe v Wade was invented by the Supreme Court,” Laxalt said. “It was always better left returned to the states. It was because it was put at the federal level it was made into a divisive, highly charged issue. I think it’s better left to the states.”
Brown called it a “hypothetical question.”
In a recent interview with USA Today, McConnell didn’t rule out a national ban saying it was “worthy of debate.”
With the Supreme Court geared to roll back access to abortion, many fear others cases that have provided historically marginizaled communities rights, such as the 2015 ruling on marriage equality, could be eviscerated next.
When asked about the potential of same-sex marriage was in jeopordy, Laxalt called it “a pretty wild hypothetical.”
“I think we need to see what happens with this leaked published opinion,” Laxalt said. “The Democrats are going to start spinning all sorts of tales of woe and go completely overboard and say all past precedents and all the Supreme Court history is going to be overturned.”
Brown agreed he didn’t think it would be overturned adding “the broader question is why is government in marriage to begin with.”
While many proposals lacked specifics, Brown called for another debate with Laxalt to further flush out positions.
Shad moved the conversation along before Laxalt could respond.
Nevada Current is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nevada Current maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Hugh Jackson for questions: [email protected] Follow Nevada Current on Facebook and Twitter.
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