Bill Schuette, Gretchen Whitmer square off in first gubernatorial debate

- Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette squared off in their first debate in the race for governor Friday night. 

They did not agree on much - it was especially clear on two issues, the Flint water crisis and sexual abuse prosecution of Larry Nassar.  Schuette accused Whitmer when she was Ingham County prosecutor her of not doing her job.

"Gretchen Whitmer failed to do her job," Schuette said. "She did not file charges against Larry Nasser and she did not refer them to me. Jim Dunlap, the chief of Michigan State police did that. You didn't do your job."

Whitmer ordered her opponent to stop using the Nassar survivors against her.

"I did my job and I did not put my political future ahead of the interest of the survivors," Whitmer said. "I am disgusted that the attorney general is continuing to weaponize the Nassar case to use against me. The survivors have asked him to stop doing it, I've asked him to stop doing it. Every time you do it, it rips open the wound of the people to see the face of their sexual abuser on television and you need to stop that, Bill."

Whitmer went on the offense, blaming Schuette for ignoring the pleas of Flint residents to investigate the Flint water crisis - which forced them to brush their teeth with leaded water. 

"They called the attorney general," she said. "They asked 15 times they filed complaints over the course of two years and were ignored. He signed off on the initial order that permitted the switch to the Flint River. But for that, maybe, maybe they wouldn't have been brushing their teeth with leaded water. 

"I make no apologies to people to those people that complained about, that I filed charges in Flint," Schuette said. "You know why? Because twelve people died, and thousands of kids were poisoned. I'm going to make sure there's accountability and justice for families in Flint."

Paying for road repairs was another hot topic. Schuette talked about taking money from other parts of the state budget. Whitmer offers a revenue raising plan.

"It's going to cost $3 billion, to say you're just going to find the dollars is phony," Whitmer said. "One economist said you would have to hope he has magic because he described his plan as b.s. and I don't think he was talking about his initials."

"There's a warning signal out," Schuette countered. "Because Gretchen Whitmer said she wants to find $3 billion worth of money for roads. That means when she says she's going to fix the roads she's going to raise your darn taxes. She wants to raise gas taxes and it's an extreme agenda that would drive us back."

Then they got into it over a guy who’s not even on stage, Whitmer's running mate Garlin Gilchrist.

"This is a guy who has anti-sematic rants, anti-Israel rants, anti-evangelical rants and, pro-Hamas support," Schuette said. "Which is a terrorist group by the State Department, that's disgraceful, shameful."

"Again, more desperate attempts from a guy lagging in the polls," Whitmer said. "The fact of the matter is, he's the one that hangs out with anti-Semites like Ted Nugent and Steve Bannon who authored the anti-Muslim travel ban. You know what, we deserve better." 

They will meet in Detroit for the final debate on Oct. 24.
 

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