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May 30: GOP Senate debate

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In this Sunday Edition, KSL's Bruce Lindsay has a conversation with Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater, both seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. senator for Utah.

Segment 1:

Lee and Bridgewater were given the opportunity to make an opening statement

Lee: "I've decided to run for the United States Senate because I've come to believe that our federal government is too big, that it costs too much money, that it was never intended to be as big or as expensive as it is. It doesn't need to be this way, and if we would follow the rule book, provided by our founding fathers, our federal government would be far smaller and far less expensive than it is. Our founding fathers established a government at the national level which decidedly, intentionally limited or enumerated powers. Those powers are supposed to focus our federal government on basic things like national defense and immigration and regulating interstate and foreign trade. The federal government is not supposed to be all things to all people, and bad things happen when we try to pretend otherwise. That's why I am running and I invite you to vote for Mike Lee for U.S. Senate."

Bridgewater: "I'm Tim Bridgewater and I am a candidate for the U.S. Senate. We just finished the convention cycle here in Utah and I was fortunate to come out with 57 percent of the delegate vote. Those of you who haven't heard me speak before, I have a raspy voice, so it's not hoarse, it's who I am. And I hope that it's the voice of the private sector that's heard in Washington, D.C. Today, I am running because I think that the government is out of control. Quite frankly, it's insane the amount of money that's being spent, taxpayer dollars, and more than that, debt that's rising and it's gotten so big that it's threatening the future of this nation. As a senator I will go back and fight against government spending. I'll cut it dramatically. I'll work to make sure that we secure our borders. Today we have an immigration problem and states are trying to step up because the federal government is ignoring it's responsibility. And ultimately I want to protect and defend small business. I've been a small businessman for 22 years and it's important that we have that economic engine in our country."

Both candidates weigh in on the possibility of a nuclear test ban treaty

Bridgewater: "Barack Obama is now pushing to that end, and I think that we have to be very careful going down that road because we don't want to give up a strategic advantage that we have as a nation. My dad was a downwinder. He died of pancreatic cancer about six years ago. And Utah knows better than anyone else, any other state, the complications that come from any sort of nuclear testing or further exposure that could result from nuclear detonations. But at the same time I don't want to take the option off the table and I know that Barack Obama is pushing hard now to try and move us towards a comprehensive test ban treaty. It failed the Senate before because most senators felt like we were giving up too much of our national security to go down that road. But I will take it under consideration and look at the possibilities, but I don't want to commit to anything today."

Lee: "My dad also was a downwinder and died from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that was linked to his exposure as a downwinder. So this is an important issue to me. I don't believe that we need nuclear detonation testing right now. I do think that we need to test our nuclear arsenal constantly to make sure that it's working properly. I mean we tested the delivery mechanisms, we understand whether or not they are working. My understanding as of right now is that there is no need for ongoing detonation testing. I think that we need to not take off the table the option of undertaking such testing in the future. There are some advocates of the Test Ban Treaty that will point out that Article IX of the Test Ban Treaty allows a country to withdraw from the treaty structure, if it determines that it is in its interest to do so. It's got me thinking that it's worth studying, it's worth considering. But on the other hand I have to look at the fact that Article I Section 2 of the Test Ban Treaty suggests that not only does it prohibit the testing, the nuclear detonation testing, but it also prohibits the use of any nuclear device, creating an nuclear explosion. In other words, it would take off the table something that could be fundamentally necessary to the national defense of the United States of America."

The candidates also discuss immigration, transportation and storage of foreign nuclear waste and support for the U.S pulling out of the United Nations.

Segment 2:

Both candidates support a consumption tax

Lee: "We have a tax system that is distorted in the sense that it requires about 40 percent of the population to carry about 97 percent of the tax liability. And it tells about half of Americans that they don't have to pay basically any federal income tax. [My solution] would involve a single-rate tax system. Everyone pays taxes according to one rate. A flat tax either imposed on income, on one hand, or consumption, on the other hand, as would be the case on the so-called fair tax proposal. I prefer the fair tax, the consumption-based tax. It's easier to enforce, it's more difficult to cheat, it's easy to understand and it would be an effective means of collecting revenue for the United States government. ...It's a different way of collecting revenue, but it is far more efficient and it's, as the name implies, it's far more fair. And it would also collect more revenue from throughout the country. And it would be a more effective means of funding what we need to do through our federal government. It would make the citizenry a lot more aware of how much of their money was going to the federal government, and I think that it would make government more accountable and more responsive to the people at the end of the day, because everyone would be feeling it every time they made a purchase."

Bridgewater: "The national fair tax is exactly the best economic model out there, if we can abolish the income tax. The income tax is punishing, it is punishing those who are producing in this country. When you tax something, you get less of it. And so the most important thing that we have to do is free up our economy. But today we have regulations, compliance costs and a big tax burden that makes us less productive as a nation. And we have to be more competitive and create more jobs and economic wealth. Dramatic reform of the tax system is part of the solution. It would help us create jobs in the private sector much more easily. I've been working in the private sector for 22 years and the government often times is not our friend when we are working in that arena. It's an enemy to development and growth. So the national fair tax incentivizes investment and savings. It helps us so that we have a fair system across the board so all individuals, all citizens, everybody that's here, would pay a tax at the end user consumption level. A flat tax would be preferable to what we have today, where you would a just a tax on the net income amount that you have over $16,000. But right now the fair tax is the best alternative. There are eight co-sponsors and I would be a ninth co-sponsor in the Senate."

Bridgewater and Lee also explained their views on the future of social security, medicare and medicaid, health care reform, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and offshore oil drilling.

Each candidate offered a closing remark

Lee: "I appreciate the opportunity to send my message across the state to my fellow Utahns. It's an honor to be a candidate for the United States Senate as a Republican. I pledge to you that as your U.S. senator I will never vote for a single bill that I can't reconcile with the text and the history of the U.S. Constitution. If we follow that model, which happens to have the advantage of already being the law of the land, we will make our federal government far more manageable, far more affordable, far more respectful of individual liberty and of your property. That's why I want to be your U.S. senator. Thank you."

Bridgewater: "It's a privilege to run for the United States Senate. I hope to represent the great state of Utah. I believe that we are underrepresented today in Washington, D.C. Washington is out of control, spending more money than they have. We need fiscal discipline. We need to secure our borders. And we need to look at ways that we can bring a sense of saneness, which is missing today in Washington, D.C. Common sense goes out the door because the power is all vested in Washington. We need more power moved to the states and more decisions made at the state level. I hope to have a chance to meet with you. Please go to our website,, and you can learn more about me and my campaign. Thank you very much."

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