Video Replay: Franken & McFadden Debate On WCCO-TV

Al Franken & Mike McFadden

The second debate between Senator Al Franken (DFL) and Mike McFadden (R) brought more heat than light to the race as they and moderators Esme Murphy and Pat Kessler often interrupted and spoke over each other. The debate itself was interrupted several times for commercials, something that has not happened in any other debate for statewide office this year.

Here is video of the debate (courtesy of WCCO-TV) broken down by segments and topics/questions in the order they happened.
Click on the topic to jump to the video and the transcription (some segments are still being transcribed).

  1. U.S. response to ebola
  2. Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare
  3. U.S. response to ISIS
  4. Campaign ad claims – McFadden’s claim that Franken votes “97% of the time with Obama”
  5. Football related questions
  6. Tax loopholes and McFadden’s business dealings
  7. Campaign ad claims part 2 -Franken’s claim that McFadden’s company has been responsible for eliminating jobs by making business deals that ship them overseas

U.S. response to ebola

Transcript by Susan Maricle:

PK: Pat Kessler, WCCO News
EM: Esme Murphy, WCCO News
AF: Al Franken, incumbent U.S. Senator, Democrat
MM: Mike McFadden, candidate, U.S. Senator, Republican
LJ: Larry Jacobs, Humphrey School

PK: So we want to start with Ebola. There is widespread anxiety in America about a possible outbreak of Ebola. There are now three states which are enforcing mandatory quarantines of people from West Africa who had direct contact with patients who have Ebola. Now Mr. McFadden, you want to go a little bit further. Actually, a lot further. You would like to have a travel ban –

MM: Right.

PK: – from West African countries, because you say that this is a dangerous situation. But medical experts around the world say, “That’s not effective.”

MM: Well, I think Pat, what we’ve seen here is another example of lack of leadership in Washington. Ah Ebola is a very very serious disease. People are really concerned in this country and in Minnesota with safety and security. And as I’m goin around the state, and Al I don’t know what you’re hearin, but I I get asked about it all the time. People are really concerned about it. And as I looked into it, ah we’re not close to being prepared for an Ebola outbreak in the United States. There’s only four state-of-the-art contamination centers in this country. One’s in Atlanta Georgia, one’s in Omaha Nebraska, one’s in Washington D.C., and the other one’s in Montana. And they can they can take three to ten patients at a time. So Pat, if we have a, if we have a severe outbreak here, we’re not ready to address it and so–

PK: But but the medical experts say a travel ban is not effective.

MM: Y’know, I think a travel ban is is common- sense, Pat, that we have a way to prevent people that have the potential to have Ebola from coming into our country. So I’ve called for a temporary travel ban for people traveling from West Africa to the United States.

EM: And do you also support this mandatory quarantine for returning healthcare workers that has gone into effect really over the weekend here, in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois?

MM: Well yeah Esme, you raise a great point, yes I I I do. And and when you see what happened in New York, with this doctor who came back and developed n symptoms, it’s scary. And y’know those poor nurses in Dallas, I guarantee you that hospital in Dallas thought they were doing everything right – and then they contracted this disease, and then the CDC allowed allowed this nurse to get on on a plane

Well –

PK: Let’s go to Senator Franken here then –

AF: Sure.

PK: — a travel ban. Medical experts say it’s not effective. Forty-five percent of all of these travelers out of West Africa

AF: Are citizens.

PK: don’t come straight to the United States. Is it effective, is it not, would you support it?

AF: Ah well ah obviously it’s it’s insufficient to have a travel ban (clears throat) from those West African countries to the United States because they go – it’s actually a vast majority go through third company – ah countries. There’s very few flights from those countries directly.

Ah lemme tell you what I’ve done

EM: But but Senator Franken

AF: Yeah.

EM: Your your opponent has been very clear. He says he wants a travel ban. You’ve said that it should be considered, ah but you’re concerned about getting aid workers in or out.

AF: Right.

EM: I mean which is it? Do you support a travel ban or not, and also what about this mandatory quarantine that’s suddenly gone into effect in these three cities?

AF: Well, lemme tell ya what I’ve been doing. Because no matter whether you have it or not, it’s actually a very small minority of flights that come directly from there. And the majority, the vast majority, come through third countries. From Europe, or from the Middle East. I agree that the response in Dallas was just unacceptable, and my work, a lot of my work, has been to see that in Minnesota, we are are that’s not gonna happen. So I’ve been in regular contact with the head of the Minnesota Hospital Association, we actually do have four hospitals now that are set up to take Ebola patients. So we’ve sort of

EM: But what about

A: doubled the number and

EM: the travel ban, though? And this quarantine?

AF: Right.

EM: Do you agree with

MM: He just answered that one.

AF: Okay, yes, on on the

EF: Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo and the governor of Illinois have done. It’s very controversial.

AF: I know it is. And because – we we want to do the most rational, effective thing to keep people safe, people safe in Minnesota. So I talked to the Governor and Commissioner ah Ehling – Ehling – Ehlinger –

PK: Ehlinger.

AF: — from Minnesota Department of Health, last night. And I’ll be talking, Commissioner Ehlinger is having a meeting with experts ah today at one, to talk about what the most effective way is. And whether that means a mandatory quarantine. Part of the

EM: We, we –

PK: we still don’t hear that travel ban, though?

EM: But we, we want to know where you stand on the travel ban and the quarantine.

AF: I have no nothing against a travel ban from West Africa. What I’m saying is that that

EM: So does that mean you’re for it?

AF: it’s totally insufficient. It is totally insufficient because what we need to do is be able to screen, and I talked to the CDC, I I pressed the CDC along with the Governor, along with Senator Klobuchar, to make Minnesota, MSP a an airport where you screen and track people. Every one of those people who come in will be screened, and then tracked. So they, they have to take their temperature twice a day. Now, that is a distinction now between a mandatory quarantine. There are other governors who decided not to do this. I will be talking to the Governor and to ah Commissioner Ehlinger later today about how that meeting went down. We want to do this in the most effective way possible.

PK: And and then Mr. McFadden, let’s go back to you about this. We have this doctor in New York who was self testing as Senator Franken says, was taking his temperature, but he was out bowling, he was riding the subway, is this guy a hero? Or is he an irresponsible doctor?

MM: Well –

PK: And it sounds like when he’s talking about the CDC, there were a lot of mistakes that appear to be made. Ah the administration doesn’t appear to have a handle on it, to many Minnesotans.

MM: Well well Pat, first of all, this doctor was with Doctors Without Borders. He’s a hero in my book. Any aid worker that’s in West Africa fighting this right now is a hero in my book. But, I just listened to both of you asked Al Franken three times what his answer was, and he didn’t answer it. And – that is the problem with politics right now. People want straight talk. And – the the reason I think people are so concerned about Ebola is they seen a they’ve seen a theme in Washington, and with our political leaders, that there’s been no leadership on these issues, whether it be the response to ISIS, whether it be this economy, ah now with Ebola, people are feeling less secure and less safe. And – I know that because I’m out talkin to people every day.

PK: And only a few seconds left, are you satisfied with President Obama’s handling of this Ebola crisis?

AF: I don’t think the CDC is satisfied with its own performance, they ah they ah apologized for what they did, right now my number one focus is making sure that people in Minnesota are are safe. And that is why I’ve worked with the – have been in constant contact with both Commissioner Ehlinger, with the Governor –

PK: Senator, you’ve said that, are you satisfied with President Obama’s performance?

AF: No, and I don’t think he is either, and —

EM: All right gentlemen,

AF: Yeah.

EM: I’m sorry, that’s gonna have to be it for this segment

Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare

PK: The Affordable Care Act, which is known as Obamacare, is now in place and it is a year old. Americans are still navigating what it means and what it means.

EM: We want to start with Senator Franken. Senator Franken, President Obama said repeatedly “If you like your doctor you can keep him or her. If you like your policy, you can keep it.” Politifact called that the Lie of the Year in 2013. With all due respect, have you been lying to the people of Minnesota?

AF: I have not ah I didn’t say those things. Ah the President I think was engaged in some wishful thinking and ah but let’s let’s talk about what Affordable Care Act has done in Minnesota. We’ve reduced by 40% the number of uninsured, 95% of Minnesotans are now insured. Second most in the country. There were some problems. Those were two. Problems in the rollout. But. Let’s make this clear. Mr. McFadden wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That he’s run on that the whole time. I wanna just repeal it. I wanna repeal it.

We have to fix the things that are wrong with it but comp – build on the things that are right. If you repealed it, we would go back to square one. And you wouldn’t have people with pre-existing conditions being able to get coverage without paying a penalty. Women would again have to pay more for their healthcare just because they’re a woman, for their insurance. People who have gone through their lifetime cap or annual cap would be thrown off their healthcare again.

Kate Day, a mom whose daughter Evelyn has cystic fibrosis, says her daughter’s alive because they got rid of these caps. Every – you look at all these

PK: Well let’s ask him.

AF: Sure.

PK: Let’s ask Mr. McFadden about that. You’ve made this a big part of your campaign. Repeal and replace, you say. But you say, Senator Franken doesn’t agree, you say you want to keep pre-existing conditions. You want to keep 26-year-olds

MM: Right.

PK: on their parents’ policies. You want to keep the lifetime, no lifetime limits.

MM: Exemptions, yep.

PK: But you also say no mandate, no individual mandate. It doesn’t seem to work. All of the health experts say that’s Obamacare but for the mandate.

MM: Well well well Pat, we have a healthcare issue in this country. I mean I know that as a businessman. we’ve had it for a long time. But Obamacare’s not the right solution. It’s a trainwreck, to quote Max Baucus, who’s a Democratic

PK: Out of context, you’re quoting

MM: congressman

PK: but go ahead.

MM: But but but but ah first of all, I have come with a plan. And and I want to talk to that. Before I do that, you started about the lie, the the which Politico called the biggest lie of the year. If you like your plan, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep it. We know that not to be true. But the biggest lie of all was when the President and Al Franken said that this would make healthcare less expensive. That’s not true. It’s absolutely not true. And – I know that because I’m out talkin to people day in and day out, Pat. When I I we we know that with PreferredOne, which was the low-cost provider on MnSure last year. They’ve just come out with their new rates. They’re going up 63%. It’s HUGE rates. When I was in Rochester last week, a woman came up to me who works at Mayo Clinic, which is the largest private employer in the state

PK: Sure.

MM: her premiums are going up 50%, her deductible’s goin up 220%. She had a look of fear and anger.

PK: Well that’s kinda that’s harsh, Senator Franken, when he says that’s a lie that you’ve been telling Minnesotans.

AF: Well – ah let’s refer to this

EM: Well, let’s focus in on these premiums going up.

AF: Sure.

EM: Three weeks from tomorrow, thousands of Minnesotans are gonna go to the MnSure Web site. The estimates are all over the map. Ranging from 4%, which I think has been debunked by a lot of experts, to 11% on up to 16%.

PK: The rates are gonna go up.

EM: What do you what do you say to people who who are concerned not only about the increase

AF: Some people have seen their rates go up, some people have seen them go down. I talked to Warren Nelson, who is a manufacturer in Itasca County. he employs 48 people, he his went down 8.5% for his 48 employees. But let’s make this clear.

MM: But but but but Al that’s

AF: What he is talking about, let me make this clear, what he is talking about is repealing this, and it goes back to square one with a Congress that is, where there is obstruction where there is obstruction

MM: First first of all,

AF: and where there is gridlock so you – this all disappears immediately

MM: We we we we have

AF: All this guarantees disappears immediately if this

MM: Al, I will I will agree with you that we have a healthcare issue in this country. We absolutely have it. We’ve had it. But Obamacare is not the right solution. It is a disaster, and to say that it’s gonna lower costs is patently wrong. It’s gonna rise it is gonna raise costs. We can’t afford it. And the difference between me and you Al is I want the states to control this. You want the federal government to control it.

PK: But he says that would

EM: But that’s been done.

PK: If you do what you want, it all disappears.

EM: And and the rates go up. That’s (unclear) your model, Mr. McFadden.

MM: When when Al Franken and I were in Duluth debating, in front of the the audience in Duluth, Al Franken said that there’s many problems with Obamacare. He’s not come forth though with one solution. I’ve come forward with a plan to drive down costs and to make it

EM: But Mr. McFadden, experts have looked at your plan and said that your plan will not keep costs low because you don’t have that mandate.

MM: Esme, that is wrong. And Pat, that’s wrong. What I said is the states can decide if they want to implement a mandate. But I don’t want the federal government doin it. So if Minnesota if Minnesota wants to say “we want a mandate,” they can do that. If Arkansas doesn’t want a mandate, they don’t have to do it.

(unclear comment)

MM: I believe that the – the states are laboratories for experiments –

PK: Sounds simple, Senator.

AF: MPR had experts look at his plans, said it doesn’t add up, but that doesn’t matter. Because it’s not going to be his plan, there’s gonna be, there are 435 members of the House, there’s 100 members of the Senate. Everyone will have a plan. And your plan doesn’t get adopted because you’re running for office.

MM: What what what

AF: What happens is, is it immediately goes away. Now I have offered, I have offered fixes. Okay? And I have bipartisan support. On something called reinsurance, which is to help businesses and unions that self-insure, Mark Kirk, a Republican of Illinois, has ah is is a co-sponsor of of my legislation. To say that I’ve offered nothing, there’s something called a fant

MM: That is a minute, minute piece of this

AF: It’s important to those unions and

MM: What what what what what Minnesotans want is straight talk. Is straight talk. And Obamacare is not working. It is not working. There’s a better way for it and I believe the states are laboratories for experiments and this should be

AF: Now hold on one second.

MM: implemented at a state level

EM: I’m sorry gentlemen, I’m sorry, but that is all the time we have on this

AF: I just wanna talk about costs and Medicare.

EM: Okay. it has to be

PK: Thirty seconds or less.

AF: Okay. They are a thousand dollars a year less per beneficiary in 2014 than were predicted in 2009. We have because of the kind of care

MM: You you you

AF: that we’ve incentivized, healthcare, as opposed to sick care, and doing the kind of things we

MM: You you

AF: do in Minnesota, we’re number one in Minnesota for a reason.

MM: You mentioned Medicare.

PK: We only we only have 10 seconds and I’m

MM: Medicare Advantage, you want to do away with. And

AF: That is totally – that is completely

MM: No, it is!

AF: not true. There are more Americans

EM: Gentlemen, I think we can probably do

AF: There are more Americans on Medicare Advantage now than ever before.

EM: Gentlemen, I think we can probably – I’m sorry. Because we want, we want to get to a lot of topics. I think we could probably

MM: What what

EM: do an hour on this alone.

MM: What the Minnesotans want is straight talk.

EM: Hang on just a second Sir.

MM: To say, to say that this is gonna lower the costs of healthcare is an outright mystery. Everyone that’s goin to their mailbox and getting their premiums for next year are seeing staggering rises. Across the board.

EM: Gentlemen, we’re gonna have to take a break.

U.S. response to ISIS

EM: We’ve been asking viewers what’s on their mind before this election. What do they want to know from these candidates? Larry Jacobs from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School joins us now.

LJ: Thank you so much Esme. We’ve had a lot of questions from viewers. One is from Ron, who’s sick and tired of America being at war for a dozen years. And Ron is wondering ah what could be done about that. He asks Senator Franken, “What would you do about the ISIS threat?”

EM: Senator Franken.

AF: Well – ISIS is a barbaric group. And we need to degrade and destroy ISIS. So I voted to ah train and arm the the moderate rebels in in Syria, with some trepidation of how successful that could be. I have supported the President’s bombing in Syria, as well, obviously, as in Iraq, ah ISIS doesn’t observe those borders, and so ah I I (laughs) I don’t think we we have to either – when we go back, to Congress, we will debate and vote on an authorization to use military force ah to okay this this bombing. It’ll be I think a a much more narrowly defined AUMF, authorization to use military force.

PK: Do you support the President’s actions? Has he been a leader in this area? Has he done enough? And Mr. McFadden says that you’ve been missing in action. You haven’t done enough to stop the terrorist recruiting right here in Minnesota. What about that?

AF: Well. Okay. Ah as soon as I got to the Senate in July of 2009, a little late, the one of the first things I did was get briefings from the FBI, both in Washington and in St. Paul, on ah recruitment that was going on at the time ah in our community from Shabaab. And I met with community leaders, imams, kajobes, which is an organization that tries to get youth to make better choices,

PK: Sure.

AF: including not doing this.

PK: Okay.

AF: I met with law enforcement in Minnesota. I am on record as ah pressing the ah ah Secretary of Homeland Security in ah judiciary hearings on this, I’m on record as pressing the director of the FBI on this in judiciary hearings, I have worked with the community, I have worked with law enforcement, we got that kind of recruitment then. Then, when ah it began clear that ISIS had recruited about a dozen, I wrote a letter to DOJ saying, “I want you to double down on what you did to ah limit that that the ISIS or the Shabaab recruitment

PK: Senator, we’re gonna have to

EM: We we we wondered

AF: They started a new program here, there are resources coming in because

PK: (to MM) So he’s done a lot. He’s done a lot.

MM: So — so — this this has been going on for a long time. Once again, the world has become a more dangerous place. I hear about safety and security from people all the time. If you wanna talk directly about Minnesota being the number one recruitment area for terrorists in the country, that concerns me. And that concerns Minnesotans. And this has been goin on for a long time. Al Franken said it’s been going on since 2008 with al-Shabaab, more recently with ISIS. It wasn’t until – there’s estimates that 10 to 40 Minnesotans are over fighting with ISIS. It wasn’t until that there were reports, there were two Minnesotans that were killed. And I called for a revocation of passports from people that go over and fight with a terrorist organization, and I have a press conference to say that. And and this was after talkin to community leaders in East Africa.

Then Al Franken comes out at that point in time and says, he writes a letter to the Department of Justice. I think that that was a a meager meager effort. But let me go back, when you talk about ISIS, because they are barbarians, I agree with you, I cannot stress strongly enough how disappointed I have been, Al, with President Obama’s foreign policy, or lack of it, and your support of it. This leading from behind doesn’t work. Keep in mind, this was a president that came into office that said, “I’m just gonna sit down with the leaders of North Korea and Iran and and and and we’ll work everything out.” And Venezuela – and that’s not been the case. The world is a more dangerous place today because we’ve not shown leadership. This is the president that came back from vacation, after there were two beheadings of journalists, and said “We don’t have a strategy for Syria.” That’s not acceptable.

EM: Well Senator Franken, let me ask you this. I mean the President said in 2012, there would be – if Syria used chemical weapons, a red line would be crossed and there would be U.S. action in retaliation. That never happened. Criti — or experts point to that as a series of missteps in Syria, and also not leaving a force in Iraq in 2011, as being part of the reason that ISIS has grown so quickly and become so strong. You have supported the President in his foreign policy. I mean, do you feel that the President and yourself and those that have supported him are to blame for the rise of ISIS?

AF: Well 2013, when Asaad used chemical weapons, ah y’know I I said at the beginning that I thought that the President should use force. Ah Mr. McFadden talks about leading from behind. Ah in the first 10 months of his campaign, there was not a word about foreign policy, about terrorism, about public health. Then, when Asaad used chemical weapons, every Republican candidate for the Senate was asked by Minnesota Public Radio what choice they would make, what they would do. Everyone answered BUT Mr. McFadden. He ducked. And the reason he ducked was because it was a difficult political decision.

MM: I I I didn’t talk

AF: As you remember,

MM: (to AF) and let me answer that question. Absolutely. If I was President of the United States

EM: But you didn’t answer that question.

MM: No, look. Well actually what

AF: Every, every, every member

EM: All the other candidates responded.

MM: There’s there’s there’s we get asked questions Esme and Pat all the time on issues, sometimes we answer, sometimes we don’t. It might have been a situation that I was at a kids’

PK: (unclear) But you’re late to the game.

MM: Lemme lemme tell ya, well – but I’m in the game. And I’ll tell ya exactly what I would’ve done. As soon as you draw a red line, in the sand and it’s crossed, I would have I would have had bombers into Syria immediately. (unclear). Done. Period.

AF: (smiles) This is

MM: And and and and

AF: very funny.

MM: No it’s not

AF: This was a huge

MM: very

AF: issue at the time. This was – y’know dominated the news. This is, when you’re asked, about THE issue, facing the country, and right then and there, that was the issue – and it was a difficult decision. That’s the job. You

MM: Al Al Al Al Al

AF: have to make choices in this job. You have to make them

MM: Here here here’s the issue. Benghazi

AF: in real time.

MM: We had we had an ambassador that was murdered in Benghazi. And the President did nothing. And you supported that. And the world watched. Excuse me Al. Then what happened is the President drew a red line in the sand in Syria, which was crossed, and he did nothing, and the world watched, and you supported him! So it’s no wonder that we have a situation that’s happened in the Ukraine or in Gaza or in Syria and Iraq! The world is a much more dangerous place today because we’ve not had any leadership

PK: Seems like a fair point.

MM: And you and you supported this president ninety-seven percent of the time.

AF: He’s the

MM: You’ve been connected at the hip, you’re a rubber stamp for his policies.

PK: We’ll talk ninety-seven percent next. A brief response, Senator, we have to go on.

AF: At the time, I was asked on MPR what my policy was. Right away. As soon as Asaad did this I said the President

PK: What should we have done in Benghazi? What should have we

AF: Hang on – let me answer this. This is a job where you have to answer questions in real time. Where you have to make choices in real time. You can’t take cheap shots from the bleachers. There was no – nothing – not a word – of his on foreign policy. For the first 10 months. Nothing on his Web site. Nothing that he said – no speeches on it – no no

MM: Hey Al Al Al Al

AF: press releases,

MM: you talk about

AF: this was a

M: diverting questions, real time? I just watched ah Pat and Esme ask you three times whether you support a travel ban from West Africa and you diverted it time and time again. People are seeing here, live across Minnesota, how you act. And that’s not acceptable.

EM: Gentlemen.

MM: We can do so much better.

EM: We have to take a break.

Campaign ad claims – McFadden’s claim that Franken votes “97% of the time with Obama”

PK: Back to you Mr. McFadden, the next question about something we’ve heard a lot in this campaign, and viewers have seen this in your political ads. Over and over. And OVER again. All the time. And and you have repeatedly criticized Senator Franken in your ads for voting with President Obama 97% of the time. You’ve promised, if you’re elected, if you vote 97% of the time, with your party or any party, you won’t run again.

MM: Right.

PK: What is the proper percentage? Ninety-seven percent you say? What, 96%? Would you vote 95%? How about 90?

MM: Wh –

PK: Y’know, how about 88%?

MM: Pat,

PK: What’s your percentage?

MM: Pat, one that shows his independent leadership. And this this is the same

PK: What does that mean?

MM: W — I’ll go out there and I won’t be a rubber stamp for any president. And and it’s an issue because I believe that this president is leading us in the wrong direction. I believe Pat that most Minnesotans believe that, and Al Franken has been a rubber stamp for this president. He’s voted with him 97% of the time. I haven’t met anybody in Minnesota that agrees with another person 97% of the time. I don’t even agree with my wife 97% of the time.

PK: Well then what’s your percentage? What’s what’s a good percentage?

MM: Y’know

PK: Ninety-five?

MM: what what Al Franken

PK: Ninety?

MM: Al Franken didn’t think 87 was a good percentage. When he used these same statistics against Norm Coleman in 2008, but Pat let me tell you somethin. Let me share something with you. America’s broken right now, Congress is not working. It’s not working. It is hyperpartisan and when – and and and I believe that ah right now that where we have – you mentioned there’s 100 senators and 435 members of the House of Representatives. There’s 535 people, they have an opportunity to vote in America

PK: Well let’s

MM: and what we produce – from Congress, for a decade! Is horrendous

PK: I get what you’re saying. And we’re talking about percentages because you’re using them over and over again, but that is apparently ah what everybody does.

MM: What what

PK: Take a look at these. Here’s what the Democrats vote.

PK: Lemme just show you this. Here is what Democrats vote with their parties, and it’s above 90%. Amy Klobuchar is at 98%, you’ve got all the Democrats at 90% or more, except for Collin Peterson, but Republicans too. Look at the Republicans.

MM: And and

PK: Here are Republicans. Every one is voting above 90%. That 97% number is meaningless.

MM: No it’s not. It’s not meaningless. It’s one of the it’s one of the highest percentage voting with the President, he has supported the President every step of the way, and Minnesotans don’t believe this president is leading us in the right direction. But Pat, you raise a bigger issue. And that’s the extreme partisanship that has taken place in Washington. We have seen this hyperpartisanship – Congress right now has a 9% approval rating. And I haven’t met those nine people yet. What they have produced as an institution for over a dec a decade is horrendous. And what really bothers me as a dad, as a businessman, and as a coach, is nobody takes responsibility for the outcomes.

EM: Well well well let’s

MM: Let me just, let me finish

EM: Let me ask, we have to move on, but let me ask Senator Franken

PK: We’ve gotta ask him.

EM: – we actually we actually broke down the votes amongst the U.S. Senate and we actually found that there were no Republican senators that voted with their party 97% of the time, while 37 Democratic senators, including you, voted with the President 97% of the time in the 113th Congress. Doesn’t that make your party, the Democratic Party, the party of gridlock?

AF: No, because so many of these votes that are recorded and this has been written about, extensively, and why this is so misleading. Is that a lot of these are just nominations. Ah y’know the ah HHS secretary, ah Sylvia Burwell, she passed a hundred to nothing! A lot of these are just – that’s what they score, they score things that the President is for. Look. I’ve I vote, I try to vote, I try 100% of the time to vote for Minnesota. And I have worked across party lines. In I’ve I’ve I’ve done legislation with Lamar Alexander, a Republican of Tennessee, we just got it signed in July, the first reform of our workforce training system, since 1998. We actually ah streamlined it. Got rid of 15 different programs. But we’re training people for jobs that exist. I worked with Pat Roberts on on making drugs safer. I worked with Deb Fischer a Repub — Pat’s from ah Kansas, Deb Fischer, Republican from Nebraska on on

PK: All right, you say you’re

AF: ah on rural broadband

PK: and we get it, you’re you say you’re working across the aisle.

AF: He disagrees.

PK: But the 97% indicates that you do support President Obama. Has he been doing a really good job, good enough, do you support him 97% of the time?

AF: Listen. I I

PK: Do you support President Obama’s job in office (unclear)?

AF: Ah I have voted in the in the interest of Minnesota. Now on on on President Obama, I had high hopes when he came in, I’ve been disappointed. I’ve been disappointed in his ability to deal with this gridlock. But I’ve also been disappointed in the gridlock that has been created especially by the Tea Party. Now

MM: Well, let let let me talk

AF: if you

MM: about gridlock for a minute. Because cause you you made a comment Esme to Al Franken that his party was the party of gridlock. I – Republicans – and the Democrats – my party has to take blame for this – ah I I can tell you as an outsider, as a businessman, ah who was taught to take responsibility for actions by my dad – what what I don’t understand is that Congress has been horrendous in terms of its outcomes for over a decade. But nobody takes responsibility. Republicans don’t. We say “We we we it’s not our fault,

EM: Well –

MM: we don’t control the Presidency.” The Democrats don’t. They say “Well, we can’t work with the House.” And and I believe that Al Franken is one of the most partisan senators in the U.S. Senate by voting record.

AF: If I’m if I’m

MM: Politico magazine

AF: so partisan, why have ah Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican of Mississippi, worked on me to rein in the credit rating agencies on Wall Street?

MM: Wh –

AF: Look, there’s a fundamental difference

MM: Let’s let’s look at actions

AF: between , there’s a fundam — I see

MM: versus words.

AF: I find –

MM: Politico magazine ranked you 100th out of 100 senators

AF: Can I answer?

PK: Go ahead Senator.

EM: Quickly.

AF: Okay. I see common ground when I can. BUT. I also stand my ground when I, when they come after the middle class. And this is where Mr. McFadden and I fundamentally disagree. I I’m one I think the economy works from the middle out. I wanna work for the middle class

MM: Can I talk about

AF: and for those aspiring to the middle class

MM: Can I talk about partisanship? We’re talking about .

EM: Hang on a second because we we have to move on here

MM: We’re talking about partisanship

AF: I’m for raising the minimum wage, I’m for

MM: And you, Politico magazine, came out with a study, they ranked the senators Al, from one to 100 in terms of their ability to co-sponsor legislation across the aisle. You were ranked last place. One hundred out of a hundred senators. My dad always said “Look at actions, not words.”

AF: Okay,

MM: You give a couple of examples

AF: lemme say, lemme say

MM: that that

AF: something about that statistic. According to that statistic — Ted Cruz is one of the most bipartisan members in the Senate.

MM: That’s a different

AF: Ted Cruz.

MM: This is Politico magazine, you’re you’re

EM: Ted Cruz voted with his party 87% of the time.

MM: You’re using a different statis –

AF: Ted Cruz –

EM: I’ve got Ted Cruz’s

AF: No but it says he’s one of the

EM: voting record right here.

AF: most bipartisan members.

MM: If if

AF: He’s the guy who shut the government down.

MM: If you if you look at voting, there’s a Bell curve. And and Al, you are an outlier.

PK: Well, Ted

MM: You are

AK: Mr. Mc Fadden, when (unclear) metric

PK: When Mr. Obama was elected, the first thing we heard from the Republican minority leader, Mitch McConnell, was that they’re going to do everything they can to not allow a second term and to stop everything he did in office. Do you agree with that?

MM: I don’t agree with that. And I’ll give you a straight answer.

PK: Will you support him?

MM: I’ve got I’ve got look, I just gave you a very straight answer. I as unlike Al Franken who has continued and continued to divert from answering questions that you’ve asked him. I believe that that’s wrong. I think Washington is so broken and so hyperpartisan and nothing’s getting done and nobody takes responsibility for these outcomes.

This is America. We signed up for representative democracy over 200 years ago. Which by definition Pat means that we’ll always have friction, we’ll never have one party rule. We have to work together to get things done. And and under any any measurement, what has produced by Congress over the last decade is horrendous. And you’ve been a part of that, Al. An d you need to take responsibility.

PK: I wish we could keep going on this, we have to move on to the next segment, so we will be right back.

AF: Sure.

PK:Please join us.

Football related questions

Should the NFL’s tax exempt status be revoked? (Franken:yes. McFadden:First time I’ve been asked that, I’ll get back to you.
Is the NFL Washington Redskin’s nickname racially offensive? (Both candidates say it is)

EM: Welcome back. We’re in a state that bleeds purple and gold.

PK: Yes.

EM: Even in a trying season, the Vikings are a very big draw every Sunday. And a new stadium is being built right now on the other side of town. We want to join us, we want to join ah Larry Jacobs from the Humphrey School, who has been going over all the viewer questions. This next one has to do with football.

LJ: Thank you very much Esme. We’ve got John, who’s written who’s written in. And John is fed up with billionaire owners getting public funding. Let’s start with you, Senator Franken. John asks, “Do you think it’s time to revoke the NFL’s tax-exempt status? If yes, would you commit to sponsoring legislation to do this?”

EM: Senator Franken.

AF: Well ah they are exempt from ah from ah certain laws that I think they shouldn’t be. When ah when they were negotiating on the stadium, really it was the owner could hold y’know hold us hostage, the city hostage. I believe that that we should be able to go back to the Green Bay Packer model, where a community owns, can own the team.

EM: But what about tax-exempt status?

AF: Ah I I would revoke that. Ah I I will have to look into that. I don’t know. But they they do, but they do have exempt

EM: Well two other senators have bills that would do just that. Senator Cantwell from Washington and Cory Booker. Both have legislation. In Congress, saying that they should revoke the tax-exempt status.

AF: Well then I will I will support that.

EM: Are you signing on?

AF: I –

PK: How about you, Mr. McFadden?

EM: How about you?

MM: It’s it’s something that I will look into. I haven’t been asked the question before. Al, I I when I I heard the question, I thought maybe we were running for Governor. That – I know the Governors get asked this all the time.

EM: No, this is a federal issue.

MM: No, I understand, I understand that tax-exempt status. But I’ll I’ll I’ll look at it. I have not looked into the NFL’s tax-exempt status.

PK: Well, what

MM: What I’ve, and I’ve never been asked the question on the trail before, Y’know what I am asked all the time, is about the direction of the, of this country.

EM: Well this, I mean this is a 10 billion dollar institution here. I mean, and they have tax-exempt status. It’s not a 501c3, it’s a 501c6. Your thoughts on that.

MM: Yeah, and so and so what I said is, Esme, is that I’ll look into it. And I’ll get back to you. I’ve not been asked the question

PK: Well, let’s talk about another issue.

MM: before, and and frankly I’m kinda surprised that when, in an hour debate, that that we’re talking about tax-exempt status for the

PK: Well, this is important to our viewers,

EM: Well this is

PK: and I think a lot of Minnesotans, let’s talk about something that’s even closer to them then,

MM: Yeah.

PK: and it has to do with football also.

MM: Sure.

PK: A week from now, the Washington Redskins football team comes here. And to many people, including ah Minnesotans, Native Americans, they believe it’s racist and offensive. Should they change their name?

MM: Well, that’s a that’s a decision that that the owners of that team could make. If it was if it was my team, I would change the name. But I don’t own the team.

PK: Do you think it’s racist and offensive?

MM: Do I find the name

PK: Yes.

MM: racist? Personally?

PK: Yes.

MM: I do.

EM: All right. Senator Franken,

AF: I I

EM: you’ve you’ve actually written to the NFL,

AF: I’ve written them a letter, yes

EM: asking that the Washington –they force the Washington Redskins to change their name ah because they are guilty of using a racial slur. You’ve criticized the Vikings’ handling of the Adrian Peterson child abuse case. According to opensecrets.org, that tracks political contributions, you accepted a twenty-five-hundred-dollar contribution, this election season, from the NFL. Was that the right thing to do?

AF: Well, I I – look. Whoever gives money to me, I feel they’re endorsing what I ah speak on behalf of.

EM: They have been widely criticized for turning

AF: I understand that, I understand.

EM: a blind eye to domestic abuse.

AF: This is the first, this is the first that I’ve heard that they gave to me.

EM: According to this group, it’s a twenty-five-hundred-dollar contribution.

AF: I understand.

EM: Would you consider giving it back?

AF: I will consider it. Yes.

PK: We will move onto the next segment, where we will talk

Tax loopholes & McFadden’s business dealings

PK: We will move on to the next segment, where we will talk about more of the issues that I think you say you want to hear about.

MM: Well, not not not not

PK: but I I say that a lot of our viewers want to hear about this too.

EM: And and and

MM: No, I mean

EM: Mr. McFadden, you have also talked about closing loopholes, you want to close every loophole there is. Isn’t this a loophole? That an organization like the NFL has tax exempt

MM: Well, there’s 17,000 loopholes

EM: status?

MM: that have been put into the tax code since it was revised in 1986,

PK: I can’t hear, I can’t wait to hear which ones you want to close.

MM: Well y’know, and I I I don’t I think that would be an exercise in futility to sit there Pat and say “Which of the 17,000 are we going to get rid of?” I think the right way to do it is with a blank sheet of paper and do it in a nonpartisan way sitting sitting across the aisle – from people and saying, This is going to be revenue neutral, because we have 17-1/2 trillion dollars of debt, but we need to sit dramatically change the tax code, and we need to be guided by two principles: simplicity and transparency.

EM: But Mr. McF –

PK: Go right ahead, Senator.

AF: This is where – this is where we have a fundamental difference. I voted to ah to get rid of tax loopholes for ah companies that outsource ah jobs overseas, ah that that we use that pay for twenty hundred, ah twenty-eight hundred teachers in Minnesota, this is at the height of the Great Recession, we were losing teachers right and left – I made that vote, he criticized that vote. I have I have I have legislation to prevent in inversions, that I have co-sponsored. His company has taken advantage of inversions.

PK: And made millions of dollars, he says, Mr. McFadden.

MM: Ah, well Al Franken

PK: Billions.

MM: Al Franken owns stock in in the parent company that he’s talking about. You have – Al, I’m so disappointed; you have spent millions of dollars attacking me. On the air. With patently false ads.

AF: (shakes head) No.

MM: And that’s one of the issues that we have in this state right now. You ran the most negative attack-oriented campaign in 2008 against Norm Coleman

AF: No.

MM: and now you’re doin it again. And I believe that we should have

EM: Let’s talk about this latest ad, Mr. McFadden, because you’re saying it’s absolutely false, that your company negotiated a deal that resulted in a mine closing in Missoula, Montana. That resulted in four hundred plus layoffs. Did your company – it it was on your company’s Web site –

MM: So –

EM: –that that they did that deal.

PK: So the company that I run, which is called Lazard Middle Market, I did not do that deal, was not involved in that transaction,

EM: Why was it on the Web site?

MM: That that

EM: I’ve got the Web site right here.

MM: What what

EM: It says Lazard Middle Market

MM: What what

EM: and it had that deal right underneath it.

MM: What I would encourage you to do Esme is call Lazard, on Monday, and you ask them if we were involved. This, Al Al Al

PK: Well you have that opportunity right here.

AF: (laughs)

MM: Okay, so, the company that I run, we sell businesses. I like to say if you’re gonna sell your house, hire a realtor. If you’re gonna sell your business, hire me. This was

EM: You also talked

MM: this was this was

EM: your restructuring prowess in in on your Web site

MM: but this this was a transaction

EM: It boasted that.

MM: This was a transaction that the business that I run did not touch. And what what what Al Franken has said is, in that ad, was that I was the CEO. That was Bruce Wasserstein. You know Bruce before he passed. He was a big donor to your campaign. He was at the George Soros

PK: He says you’re not telling the truth, Senator Franken (unclear), 400 people lost their jobs, and somebody did that

AF: This is an ad

MM: And and do those people know that you own stock in that company, that you ask these unemployed millworkers

AF: I have a mutual fund

MM: to do that

AF: that bought some, that that Lazard Limited stock. I don’t, you know, as someone in financial that I don’t control

(Cross talk)

AF: Please let me answer this.

PK: Please. Yes.

AF: Okay. This is a an ad about a plant in Montana that closed, and it closed because of a deal that Mr. McFadden’s company was advising on restructuring.

MM: Not the firm that I run. It’s the firm, it’s the parent company

AF: Esme, I – if you — can I answer this?

PK: Let’s let Senator Franken – go on, Senator.

AF: Thank you. Mr. McFadden’s firm, Lazard Middle Market, during this entire campaign, advertised that it did the restructuring for Smurfit Stone. That’s the company that laid off these 400 people, some of whom had worked there 30, 20 years. But the day – they had it on their Web site – until the day we ran the ad. That seems pretty incriminating. Now this is

MM: Al, you have

AF: Let me answer this.

PK: You’re answering it Senator, but hold on – you’re

MM: This this Senator, this would be like me this would be like me blaming you for something that General Electric did when you were at Saturday Night Live, because they owned

AF: I didn’t advertise on my Web site that I had done it.

MM: NBC. And and and it’s not just this ad,

AF: Aren’t you embarrassed

MM: you you met my daughter, Pat

PK: aren’t we embarrassed about what?

AF: About taking off your Web site the day after

MM: What what

AF: my ad, that says, that advertise, “We did the restructuring.” 

AF: And Lazard

PK: We want to talk about this more, we’ll come back on the other side of

EM: Hang on.

Campaign ad claims part 2

Franken’s claim that McFadden’s company has been responsible for eliminating jobs by making business deals that ship them overseas.

EM: We are joined again by Senator Al Franken and Mike McFadden. Both of you wanted to continue the conversation that we left with.

MM: So so what I I wanted to to say and stress as Minnesotans, are so tired of negative advertising. And Esme you’ve met, and Pat you’ve met my daughter, Al you’ve met my daughter, ah she’s in my most recent ad, when we initially when I jumped into this race, Al your – team, the Democratic Party, put out an attack ad that had my daughter in it! That is wrong!

AF: Inaudible.

MM: No no, don’t roll your eyes! She – there was an attack ad that had my daughter Molly in it. That’s not appropriate. And Minnesotans are so tired of these attacks – I’ve sat here and watched as you spent millions of dollars attacking my character and I have not have not

AF: Can we just talk about this issue of whether this, whether his firm did this?

EM: So you don’t like negative ads?

MM: And I haven’t run ‘em. And I haven’t

AF: Oh you’ve, every ad these ads have been very negative about

MM: Al, you should see, people want me to run, you don’t want to talk about this issue

AF: Let me talk about this!

PK: Let’s finish this issue of the 400 jobs that were lost. Senator?

AF: Four hundred jobs lost, they did the restructuring, they bragged about doing the restructuring for the whole length of this campaign, until we ran the ad, this has been an issue out there, it was in Politico about a year and a half ago, they kept it on, they knew, his company did the restructuring on this. Now: they are a wholly owned subsidiary of a company in Bermuda, Lazar Limited.

MM: And you own stock there!

AF: They made nine million dollars for this went there, but

MM: Which you, which you benefited as a shareholder!

AF: That’s the whole point of having – that’s the whole point –

MM: You’re a shareholder in that company? Did you tell them that?

AF: that’s the whole (slams hand on table)

PK: Hold on, let’s let him finish.

AF: Okay. That’s the whole point of having a company in Bermuda, you can send you can send the money there. Evidently, that’s it’s its intended to be confusing, where your income is, so that middle class Americans end up paying the tax bill. We have a difference, a fundamental difference in the way we think the economy should work. It should work from the middle out, it should help those in the middle and the bottom, he’s from the top down.

MM: Al Al Al, you you you’re taking shots at this parent company that you own stock in,

AF: Oh. It was a mutual fund.

MM: and you own it through a mutual fund, and you know what the mutual fund was called? The Social Responsibility Fund

AF: I I know. I understand that.

MM: Get to the facts.

AF: Get to the fact of this. Four hundred jobs.

PK: Tax inversions. Four hundred jobs. Did you have something to do with that?

MM: No! We had the firm that I run had nothing to do with it.

AF: I was in on your Web site for a year and a half.

MM: You you sat there and you made

EM: But your, your company made ten million dollars on an inversion deal that sent a U.S. pharmaceutical company over to Ireland.

MM: That that

EM: Isn’t that fair for you to be questioned about that and held accountable?

MM: That is patently false. We did not represent the company that did the inversion. The inversion

EM: You represented the Irish company, and your company made a lot of money.

MM: But the Irish company

MM: We have no operational control. I’m a it’s like selling a home.

EM: But –

MM: If I sell your house,

EM: — you told the Associated Press that you didn’t even know that an inversion was part of the deal. You are an accomplished businessman. How much

PK: Let’s finish this up. Because he’s saying he had no operational control. We’ve heard that during the campaign.

MM: We don’t have operational control.

AF: If you’re a CEO and you don’t take responsibility for what your company does, what are you going to do as a senator? The point is –

MM: No, I take responsibility –

AF: When you sell a company in in Ireland that’s worth 500 million dollars, and you’re representing it, you’re going to represent the fact that we have a very, it has a very low tax rate there in Ireland. This is ripe for an inversion.

EM: We have a minute left here.

MM: We we represent companies all over the world, Al. And and we don’t have operational control. It’s like when you sell your house, when you sold your apartment for 4-1/2 million dollars

AF: But you don’t just sell houses

MM: in New York in the last year, did your agent, your agent your agent doesn’t make operational control. That if new owner comes in and and and wants to lay them off

AF: This is a fundamental – he just doesn’t act as a real estate agent. He does he he bragged in 2009 about when there’s a bear market, when there’s a bad market, we changed to doing restructuring. And that’s exactly what happened in –

EM: Okay gentlemen, I am sorry, that is going to have to be the last word. We want to thank Mr. McFadden and Senator Franken

PK: Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.

EM: Thank you so much for joining us, gentlemen.

MM: Thank you.

You can watch segments of the WCCO-TV debate in a pop-up player here.

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Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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