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CD2 Republican debate offers smorgasbord of rightwing red meat

The hour-long debate focused primarily on national issues and featured plenty of rightwing talking points.

Republican candidates for the 2nd Congressional District Dick Brewbaker, left, and Caroleene Dobson, right.
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Caroleene Dobson wants to close the southern border, deport all “illegal aliens” and also deport the children born to immigrants in America – a fundamental rewrite of the U.S. Constitution that seems unlikely. 

Dick Brewbaker wants to get America back to the energy independence days of Donald Trump – which, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, would mean reversing growth in independence experienced over the last three years – and stop focusing so much on “green energy and saving the planet,” because China and India are burning a lot of coal. 

So it went for the 2nd Congressional District Republicans during a pre-taped debate hosted jointly by Mobile’s Fox-10 and Montgomery’s WSFA. It was an hour-long recitation of far-right talking points mostly in step with the post-2016 rhetoric of Trump and the MAGA wing of the GOP. 

However, if the contest was, in fact, to determine which candidate best parrots the MAGA lines, Brewbaker was the clear loser. He failed to refer to the migrant crisis at the southern border as “an invasion,” didn’t advocate its outright closing – noting that $2 billion per day in legal exports and imports flow across it each day – and he resisted personal attacks, even when Dobson launched several in his direction. 

Dobson, in the meantime, had no such qualms, at one point warning: “Folks, the liberals are coming for our preschoolers.” 

There were few moments that addressed Alabama-specific issues, with most of the questions instead focusing on a smorgasbord of national rightwing topics, such as transgender rights, the border, inflation and artificial intelligence. 

A rare deviation came during a question on health care and what each candidate might do to create a better system or solve problems in the current one. Neither candidate offered a specific answer, and instead they both spent their time complaining about the current system and pointing out why Medicare For All or Medicaid expansion – they both seemed to conflate the two very different initiatives – wouldn’t work. 

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Dobson claimed Medicare For All would somehow “disadvantage our senior citizens,” so instead she pledged to “roll up our sleeves and stop playing politics” and realize that “we have got to come up with a solution.”

Brewbaker, meanwhile, didn’t want to expand Medicare “into the coverage gap,” because doing so might lead to more businesses failing to offer private health insurance to employees. However, data shows that the overwhelming majority of Alabamians who fall into the coverage gap do so because their employers don’t offer coverage. 

There was also agreement between Brewbaker and Dobson on other issues, such as not supporting any new gun laws and wanting to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. 

Explaining his resistance to new gun regulations, Brewbaker claimed that if federal laws preventing felons from owning weapons were properly enforced today then there wouldn’t be so many cases of felons committing murder. An argument that seemed to suggest that we should do away with all laws that are often broken. 

Dobson didn’t concern herself with specifics, instead stating flatly: “I will not support any new gun laws, any red flag laws.”

Alabama is one of the top five states in the nation for gun deaths per capita. 

On education, Brewbaker wants to rid the country of the Department of Education and send the money to the states in the form of block grants. He also touted his record as a state senator on passing the state’s charter school bill and virtual school bill – which led to the formation of one of the worst performing schools in the state and a virtual school system that has been rocked by fraud and scandal. 

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Dobson mostly agreed with Brewbaker’s views on education, but did find the need for a “federal apparatus” to ensure transgender kids can’t play sports. 

The primary runoff is next Tuesday.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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