WITZ Radio News is an affiliate of Network Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS--All three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate are liars, according to what they consistently say about one another. They all continued down that path in the third debate, hosted by the Indiana Debate Commission, Monday evening.
None of the candidates were able to stay off talking points, except where it came to attacks on one another, and the majority of those attacks came from representatives Luke Messer and Todd Rokita against former state representative Mike Braun.
Rokita and Messer found a rare point of agreement when lashing out at Braun.
"We talk about records here and we have Mr. Braun who's on record for authoring the largest tax increase in Indiana history, plus 45 others," said Rokita, "At the same time reducing to zero the sales tax on his own timber business.
Messer's attack accused Braun of being a Democrat.
"He stood before Indiana voters and called himself a lifetime Republican when he has voted for 38 years in Democrat primaries," said Messer.
Braun retorted he had never voted Democrat in any state or national races.
"We did it solely to weigh in on our local races. I wasn't calculating to become a career politician like the two of you. I was doing something in the real world," said Braun, who spoke through the hour of being an outsider, the same point he has employed throughout his campaign.
None of the men could seem to stray very far from their talking points, and rehashed them in opening statements, as part of a "Lincoln-Douglas" portion, and in their closings.
The three were unable to talk about a scenario in which they might disagree with the president on policy, a question that came from a citizen, collected by the Debate Commission.
"If there is a policy disagreement, it's gonna be a healthy disagreement," squeezed out Rokita. Messer acknowledged that everyone has disagreements, but elected not to speculate and instead went right back into the comfort zone of attacks and talking points.
Messer and Rokita were both "nos" on a question about medical pot, a subject that Rokita brushed once before in the first debate. Braun said he believes that should be left to the states.
"That'll work itself out over time," he said.
Moderator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz took a hit from Rokita, who originally elected to stay out of the debate because Shabazz was chosen as moderator. Rokita referred to him as an establishment Republican, saying he is against the president.
Shabazz reminded the candidates that he is not on the ballot.
"You'd think this would be a time when they'd try to present a positive vision. But, again, this is just another reminder that this is the nastiest race in politics," said Michael Feldman, spokesperson for Indiana Democrats, in a press call after the debate. "This was the opportunity for them to change the tone, and what we saw was the same mudslinging...and hardly any discussion on the issues."
“After a nasty, expensive year, this primary is all but over, and none of the three candidates can escape who they are -- flawed, unpopular, hypocritical candidates more at home in the swamp than in Indiana," said John Zody, chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, in response to the debate.
The primary is May 8. The winner faces Democrat Joe Donnelly in the general election. There wasn't much room in the third debate to talk about Donnelly, though he did get mentions .
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO BELOW