Bacon, Eastman talk bipartisanship, health care, racism during 2nd Congressional debate

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 10:02 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:38 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Congressman Don Bacon, R-Neb., debated Democratic challenger Kara Eastman at noon Thursday at the Omaha Press Club.

6 News investigative reporter and weekend anchor Brian Mastre moderated the debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha.

The debate covered a lot of ground on topics that sparked a fair amount of fireworks between the two candidates, who up until this week have only traded barbs online and in commercials. Unlike the recent national debates, there weren’t many interruptions, but each made clear distinctions about where they stand when it comes to COVID-19, health care, the Supreme Court, and institutional racism.

And they wasted no time getting to the jabs.

The protests calling for social justice this summer sparked intense debate among the candidates, which included the racial strife in Omaha regarding the shooting death of James Scurlock and frustration over the damage caused to property across the country.

“I have yet to hear Kara condemn the violence in Seattle and Portland," Bacon said. "We support peaceful protests, but we should condemn the violence we see.”

Eastman took issue with the accusation.

“I have been very clear about condemning violence, including violence against people of color here, and not once have we hear the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ come out of your mouth," she said.

Bacon: “Brian, if I may: Black Lives Matter.”

Eastman: “Oh, he said it.”

Bacon: “I said it. I believe in the sentiment. I don’t always believe in the organization.”

The candidates drew sharp contrasts between one another.

Bacon said Eastman would easily fit with the radical left lawmakers already in Congress; Eastman said Bacon is nothing more than a puppet for President Trump.

Both believe they are the better candidate to mend the divide between the two parties.

“We have amazing ways to reach across the aisle in this state. I want to build unity in both parties," Eastman said. "There are problems in both parties that need to be fixed.”

Meanwhile, Bacon seized the opportunity to tout his recent endorsement from his formal rival.

“Brad Ashford ran against me four years ago; now, he endorses me. He said I’m the one who can deliver bi-partisan results," Bacon said.

A good chunk of the debate also focused on health care and COVID-19 response, as the two sides sparred and asked their own questions.

Watch the replay on Channel 6.2 at 5 p.m. Saturday.

NOTE: Special thanks to the League of Women Voters and the Omaha Press Club for their roles in making this debate possible.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this article.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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