The senate race in Wisconsin is officially no-holds-barred. On Thursday night, Republican senator Ron Johnson — who has served the state since 2011 — went head-to-head with his Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, for the second and final time in a debate held Marquette University. As Politico reports, the theme of the evening seemed to be: this guy is the worst!
“The tone of the evening was even nasty when the two candidates were asked to name something they found admirable about their rivals,” wrote Politico’s Holly Otterbein. While Barnes mustered up the strength to describe Johnson as “a family man,” which we guess is a compliment, Johnson couldn’t return the favor — at least not without resisting the temptation to add in an unnecessary dig.
“I appreciate the fact that Lieutenant Governor Barnes had loving parents,” Johnson said, before adding: “What puzzles me about that is with that upbringing, why has he turned against America?”
If Johnson — who recently made what some thought was a Freudian slip when he told Fox News’ Maria Batiromo that he “condones” white supremacy — thought that was a way to win over the crowd, it was a gross miscalculation. Instead, they loudly booed him.
The candidates are asked what they find admirable about each other. Johnson uses the question to attack Barnes saying he turned against America. Johnson is booed by the audience pic.twitter.com/qJFhlWF7HI
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 14, 2022
Still, Johnson did manage to get a few laughs during the debate. Unfortunately, they were at him. The senator, who has been implicated in helping to orchestrate the events of January 6th (which he described as a “peaceful protest,” has admitted to texting with one of Trump’s lawyers on that day. And tried to explain away the “wild charges” Barnes has made against him because of it. His reply? “The FBI set me up.” (Cue the laugh track.)
Johnson says the FBI set him up.
The audience laughs at him 😬 pic.twitter.com/aVlYg0fk0z
— Acyn (@Acyn) October 13, 2022