Mike Bishop, Elissa Slotkin exchange jabs in first debate for U.S. House seat

Candidates discuss health care, climate change


DETROIT – The candidates in the race for Michigan’s highly contested 8th Congressional District came face to face and debated for the first time Sunday on Flashpoint with the Nov. 6 general election only four weeks away. 

Incumbent Republican Mike Bishop and Democrat Elissa Slotkin will square off against each other in the race. The 8th Congressional District race is garnering attention both locally and nationally with millions of dollars being poured into the candidates’ campaigns. 

Bishop has represented the 8th Congressional District of Michigan. He is seeking his third term in that seat. Slotkin is a Michigan native who spent more than a decade in the U.S. intelligence and military communities.

On climate change, environmental policy

Things got heated between the two, particularly when questions were asked about climate change, an issue making headlines this week after the United Nations published a landmark report warning there are only 12 years left to cut fossil fuels and avert a catastrophe that would include the risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty. 

Slotkin and Bishop were asked about their positions on climate change and whether they believe it is a man-made problem. Slotkin noted she believes the United States should be in the Paris climate agreement, a pact within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020. 

The Trump Administration withdrew the United States out of the Paris agreement. 

"Yes, I believe that climate change is happening because I can see it. Our military believes it is happening. I am somebody who believes in science and believes in facts. You just have to talk to farmers in our district, talk to them about their concerns about climate change,” said Slotkin. 

Bishop took a different stance on the issue. 

"I do believe there is clear evidence in a change in our climate in this world. Whether or not it is man made, who knows. I believe in science as well, but we live in a cyclical world, that has gone through many different forms of weather patterns, and ice ages, but they weren't caused by human beings and I think the most important question is pollution and keeping things safe," he said. 

He discussed his record on protecting the environment and the Great Lakes, but not for long. 

Bishop was cut off by Slotkin, who criticized his voting record on environmental issues. 

“I know it is Halloween season but you can’t just put on a mask and become an environmentalist because you are in a tough election cycle, Mike, OK. Your voting record for 21 years has done nothing to protect our water to protect our air. You have made it easier to do oil and gas trilling in our Great Lakes and you’ve made it harder to prosecute the companies moving gas and oil in our pipelines, so you can’t just switch because you are in a tough election cycle,” said Slotkin.  

Bishop responded quoting the late Sen. John McCain in a running commercial ad against Slotkin. 

“In the immortal words of John McCain, you either don’t know the truth or you’re not telling the truth and that is the bottom line,” said Bishop. 

He said that before Slotkin was against the Enbridge Line 5 across the Straits of Mackinac she supported it.

“I’ll tell you this: Before she was against it, she was for Line 5 across the Straits of Mackinac. I have done everything in my power to ensure that we get a solution to that problem. It is an impending nightmare catastrophic event," he said.  

On the attack ads, health care

The candidates had a chance to defend themselves against attack ads. 

One running ad in support of Bishop claims Slotkin was recruited by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California; sent here from Washington; doesn't own a home in Michigan and features a recording of her admitting she doesn't know the outline of the district.

Slotkin responded by saying she has publicly stated that she would not support Pelosi as the next speaker of the house. 

“He says Nancy Pelosi recruited me to run for this race. Mike Bishop recruited me to run for this race the minute he voted to completely obliterate protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” said Slotkin. 

Slotkin’s mother had a pre-existing condition and couldn't afford health care for years after losing her job and insurance. 

A running ad featuring Slotkin speaking about her mother criticizes Bishop for voting to gut protections for pre-existing conditions.

Bishop’s wife has a pre-existing condition. He said there is no way he would have voted for the bill if it didn’t include protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

“The bill specifically indicates that we are prohibited from not authorizing health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions,” said Bishop. 

Slotkin responded asserting that Bishop wasn’t telling the truth about terms of the Republican health care bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

“Let’s be really clear, this is why people can’t stand politicians, they say one thing and do another, so he is right, he can quote his bill that says you can’t prohibit someone with a pre-existing condition from getting care. That doesn’t mean they can afford it,” she said…“People need to know the truth, they can’t stand when people say one thing and do another. That’s not making it affordable,” said Slotkin.   

She is not a supporter of Canadian style health care. 

“I believe there should be a buy into Medicare for anyone at any age. Young healthy people can buy an affordable plan so employers don’t have to constrain the size of their business, so they don’t have to pay everyone’s health insurance,” said Slotkin. 

Arguing back, Bishop noted that the bill includes provisions to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 

“What Miss Slotkin is talking about as a solution is a buy-in to Medicare, which is already teetering on insolvency. And if you do what she is suggesting, which is a complete takeover, it is doubling down on a system that already does not work. If you do that you are going to bankrupt Medicare, you are going to jack up rates and push people off the system, elderly people and people who can least afford it," said Bishop.  

Bishop stated what he would advocate for and has in the past is a patient-centered system where people can pick their own health-care and “not a government run template that is forced upon them.” 

Bishop said he is running because he loves the country and thinks it is important for all of us to stand up and be a part of the future of our country. 

“I’m not going to be thrown out of this district by Nancy Pelosi or anybody who wants to do a classic Washington, D.C., power grab,” said Bishop. 

Slotkin said people have lost hope in government and that she hopes to restore that trust. She said people in the district say they’re not going to vote anymore because they believe both parties are corrupt and the system is broken. 

“I think we need a new generation that thinks differently, that works harder and remembers that they are public servants. I think people have forgotten that the purpose of their job is to make the lives of their constituents better and I think the only way we are going to fix it is if a new generation comes in on both sides of the aisle,” said Slotkin.

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