The first question came from a woman wearing a “9/11 was a false flag operation” shirt.
Did the candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat believe the official report about the 9/11 terrorist attacks that was “spoon fed” to the people by the U.S. government? If they didn’t, what would they do to make sure the truth gets out there?
It was an unusual question for an unusual candidate forum Friday night.
All of the candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat were invited, but only four attended. Participants included Paul Nehlen and Jeremy Ryan, two Republicans who have been excluded from other debates but for different reasons. Also attending were Republican Kevin Steen and independent Ken Yorgan.
The forum, sponsored by the Rock River Voter Education project, was held in the Basics Cooperative community room and attracted about 40 people.
After an hour-long meet-and-greet, candidates faced questions from the audience.
On the 9/11 question, both Nehlen and Ryan said they thought the report did not tell anywhere near the whole truth, with Ryan writing it off as “garbage.” Both men agreed the United States should not have gone to war in Iraq.
Steen pointed out that officials were working with the information they had at the time, and he wasn’t comfortable second-guessing those choices.
Yorgan said he didn’t think the issue needed to be revisited and that there were more important pressing issues to work on. He also opposed the war in Iraq. As a member of the Racine Coalition of Peace and Justice, he said he protested the war from its beginning.
Immigration, President Donald Trump’s border wall and the treatment of immigrants were some of the main topics of the night.
An audience member wanted to know, with a “yes” or “no,” whether the candidates supported building a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Steen and Nehlen said “yes.” Yorgan and Ryan said “no.”
Yorgan said he was not in favor of taking children away from their parents at the border.
A man in the audience asked why those crossing the border illegally should have more protection than U.S. citizens. He pointed out that Child Protective Services could remove a child from a home if the mother committed a crime. Why, he asked, should someone crossing the border illegally get different treatment?
Ryan pointed out that crossing the border is a misdemeanor, according to U.S. law. Child Protective Services doesn’t remove children from their homes for misdemeanors, he said.
During the discussion on immigration, Nehlen said he had been in contact with parents whose children were killed by illegal immigrants. Many of those charged with the crimes had been deported more than once, he said.