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Closing remarks: Cunningham attacked Tillis – saying the senator is too weak to represent North Carolina and caves to special interests.
Tillis closed by saying he and Cunningham are two very different candidates and said he understands struggling after growing up in a trailer park and at one time earning minimum wage.
7:45 p.m.: Cunningham said he was for changing the names of military installations bearing the names of Confederate soldiers – including Fort Bragg. Tillis said leaders in Washington should mandate it but several voices need to be heard concerning the issues.
7:41 p.m.: The debate turned to the pandemic and mask mandates. The two were asked if there needs a national mask mandate:
“The more people that wear masks, the sooner we get schools open, the sooner we go back to sporting events,” Tillis said.
Cunningham said, “Yes, I do. The fact of the matter is I trust the science, I trust doctors, and I trust public health professionals.”
7:33 p.m.: Both candidates said they have tried marijuana.
Tillis: “Yes, when I was a kid, I was growing up in a trailer park.”
Cunningham: “Yes, I have. When I was a young person.”
7:30 p.m.: A Nexstar/Emerson College poll shows the majority of North Carolinians support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Tillis said he supports the idea of finding medicinal uses for marijuana but not legalizing it for recreational purposes.
Cunningham said the drug needs legalized at the federal level and allow states to decide what to do.
7:23 p.m.: Tillis and Cunningham were asked about the skyrocketing national debit with the senator attacking his challenger for raising taxes in North Carolina “at the height of a recession” by a billion dollars.
Tillis claims that the recession lasted longer in North Carolina because of the tax hike that Cunningham supported.
7:18 p.m.: When asked how they would go about creating meaningful police reform, Cunningham listed off his experience an attorney before saying law enforcement officers needed to be paid what they deserve.
Tillis said Cunningham supports those who want to defund the police and the senator said he was being endorsed by the Troopers Association, Police Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police because of that.
7:15 p.m.: On the topic of reducing the number of North Carolina residents without health insurance:
Tillis said getting the economy moving again is the fastest way to curb health insurance loss for North Carolinians. Cunningham said he is fighting for Medicaid expansion in the state.
7:07 p.m.: When asked if Joe Biden should release his list of RGB replacements, Cunningham said such a list would insert partisanship into the process.
Tillis attacked that answer saying Cunningham did everything to avoid answering a “yes/no” question and the American public deserves to know who is on Biden’s list.
7:03 p.m.: The first question pertained to the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Taylor asked Tillis why in 2016, he was against President Barack Obama appointing a justice but is in favor of allowing President Donald Trump to do so now.
Tillis said Obama was a lame-duck president – unlike Trump. The senator went on to say Joe Biden or Cal Cunningham would support “radical left judges” who would vote against the second amendment.
Cunningham responded by saying Tillis’ comments show what is wrong with the judiciary today – by inserting partisanship into the judicial process. Cunningham wants the next Senate and president to confirm the replacement for RGB.
7:02 p.m.: Tillis started with his opening comments saying he grew up in trailer parks and said he worked his way up. He said Cunningham has been running for office since graduating college.
Tillis reiterated a statement he repeated consistently in the first debate – being that Cunningham will say anything to get elected.
Cunningham’s opening comments detailed Tillis’ trying to portray him as someone he is not.
7 p.m.: The debate between Tillis and Cunningham is underway with with moderators Bob Buckley from WGHP, and CBS 17’s Marius Payton and Angela Taylor.
Each candidate will have 30 seconds for opening and closing remarks, 60 seconds to answer questions, and 30 seconds for rebuttals.
6 p.m.: Both Sen. Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham arrived at the CBS 17 studios a head of the 7 p.m. debate.
5:55 p.m.: Supporter of both Sen. Thom Tillis and Cal Cunningham began to gather outside the CBS 17 studios in Raleigh in the hour leading up to the debate.
A group in support of Cunningham chanted against Tillis while a separate crowd across the street held signs in support of the senator.
The New York Times featured the Tillis-Cunningham race today in an article titled, “The White House, Senate and Supreme Court Could All Hinge on North Carolina.”
In the piece, the Times called North Carolina “not just a bellwether but a linchpin,” noting this race could ultimately decide the balance of power in Washington if Democratic Senate candidates take three states where Joe Biden appears to be the front-runner: Maine, Colorado and Arizona.
“We have more of an ability to shape the future of the state, nation and world than anybody else,” said NC Attorney General Josh Stein in the piece.
The latest poll in the Tillis-Cunningham race shows the Democratic challenger with a 6-point lead.
On Monday, North Carolina Nexstar Media station and Emerson Polling released numbers that show the Republican incumbent falling behind in the race.
According to Real Clear Politics, the average of all major polls for this contest has Cunningham up by roughly 4 percentage points.
Supporters of both Tillis and Cunningham are making their voices heard ahead of the debate using the hashtag #NCSenateDebate.
Thought the live debate begins at 7:00 p.m., it will be proceeded by a pre-debate show at 6:30 p.m. and followed by a post-debate analysis from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The U.S. Senate Debate on Sept. 22 will be carried on the following stations and websites:
In addition to the live television broadcast, viewers may also access a livestream of the Senate Debate by visiting their local participating Nexstar station’s website. The stream will also be on each station’s Facebook page.
This story will be updated throughout the day.