So here's a crazy idea: What if two senators who hold completely opposite views wanted to have a showdown on the issues as part of the campaign? Turns out that if Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz wanted to debate each other, they could do so without violating debate rules, so long as they did so on the Senate floor, according to The Guardian.
The first official debate of the 2016 campaign is scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland and will include the top 10 GOP candidates (meaning six of those officially running won't be invited to participate). Both the Republican and Democratic national committees have strict rules about debates: Candidates who participate in debates not officially approved by their party are not allowed to appear in the official debates.
But if Sanders, who has called for holding more debates than the six that the DNC has scheduled, including some with Republicans, and Cruz, who could miss the cutoff for the RNC debates, wanted to have a left-wing/right-wing showdown, they could. The only catch is they'd have to do it on the floor of the Senate. Neither party's restrictions on presidential debates apply to official Senate business, according to The Guardian.
What would these hypothetical debates look like? It's possible you could not pick two candidates more different than Sanders and Cruz. One is a self-described socialist from Vermont, the other is a Tea Party darling from Texas. I don't know about you, but I think it would be extremely entertaining to see two talented orators (and they both are, regardless of what you think of either one's politics) go at it without the artificial and boring boundaries of the usual debate format.
There would have to be some guidelines, though, because the goal is to choose a president, not encourage a WWE-style free-for-all. There are some issues on which both candidates have made their positions clear, and which would be great debate topics.
What Bernie would say: "I think that urban America has got to respect what rural America is about, where 99 percent of the people in my state who hunt are law abiding people." That's from an interview Sanders gave on NPR not long after the shootings of nine people in an historically African-American church in Charleston. Sanders recently said "certain types of guns" should not be sold in the U.S.
What Ted would say: He cracked several really bad and ill-timed jokes in the days after the Charleston shootings, but has maintained a consistent position in what he sees as the defense of the Second Amendment. "There's a famous saying, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition," he said at a June event at an Iowa gun range, according to The Huffington Post. "There is a reason why the Second Amendment is right after the First."
Advantage: Cruz. Even though he's made some stupid comments on the issue, his views are much more in line with those of his conservative base. Sanders has tried to straddle the line on the issue, which may hurt him with core Democratic voters.
What Bernie would say: Sanders has been an unwavering advocate for a woman’s right to choose, which his legislative record reflects. He wrote in the Huffington Post in 2012 that the country needs to move ahead on this issue, not backward. "We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family, and physician to make, not the government."
What Ted would say: On his Facebook page, he called Roe v. Wade a "dark anniversary." Cruz is adamantly anti-abortion and has supported banning the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions, and has called for defunding Planned Parenthood.
Advantage: Sanders. Even though Cruz might win over religious conservatives with his extreme views, he would likely alienate female voters in a general election. Sanders has been unwavering in his support of women and their right to control their own bodies.
What Bernie would say: Sanders has been defending LGBT rights since before Cruz was even in politics. In 1996, then-Rep. Sanders voted against the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred recognition of gay marriage at the federal level (DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013). And Sanders' home state of Vermont was the first state to pass legislation in support of same-sex marriage, rather than in reaction to a court ruling.
What Ted would say: After the Supreme Court struck down state-level bans on same-sex marriages, Cruz wouldn't budge on his "one man and one woman" rhetoric. "I believe that engaging in homosexual conduct is a choice, and I do not believe that unelected judges should force states to adopt gay marriage, against the wishes of the people," he told the San Antonio Express-News.
Advantage: Sanders. He's been in this arena a lot longer than Cruz, and LGBT rights are not just a new fad for Sanders. Now that the Supreme Court has struck down state-level bans on same-sex marriages, Cruz's views are out of date.
What Bernie would say: Vermont already allows marijuana for medical use, and has reduced possession of small amount of pot to a civil infraction. Sanders has said he smoked pot when he was younger, and is open to discussion of more widespread recreational uses, although he has expressed some concerns there.
What Ted would say: Cruz has admitted to "foolishly" smoking weed as a teenager. Yet Cruz has expressed contradictory public views on the issue, criticizing President Obama for not intervening when Colorado and Washington state legalized weed, but also saying the issue should be decided at the state level.
Advantage: Sanders. This is an issue where again, Sanders' political longevity and consistency serves him well, whereas Cruz can't seem to make up his mind.
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