Evan McMullin Uses Pitbull Politics and Is Accused of Lying During Debate With Mike Lee

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Utah Senate incumbent Republican Mike Lee took on independent challenger Evan McMullin on Monday night. Some in the local media were touting the event as McMullin’s last chance to make an impression on voters and were calling the debate for Lee two hours before the event. Lee was forecasted to have an information advantage, but there was some speculation that, since he tends to be loquacious, this would act in McMullin’s favor if he was able to utilize sound-bite answers that could have audience appeal.


The pair took the stage at 6:00 PM Mountain time. The questions were submitted by viewers before and during the event. As predicted, McMullin went for the cheap shots and sound bites and harped on Lee’s partisanship, and emphasized that Lee was beholden to donors and special interest groups, while he, McMullin, was striving to unify the state and hold leaders accountable. He also accused Lee of refusing to work with other parties and, in particular, Mitt Romney.

The state’s prominent left-wing newspaper, the Salt Lake Tribune, teed up an easy one for McMullin, asking about campaign ads being placed by PACS. Lee said that his TV ads have for the most part been about him, not his opponent. McMullin has refused to talk about ideas and has asked people to put faith and blind trust in him. Lee said that PACS do not use the same messaging as he does. Lee said McMullin uses attack ads every single time. McMullin took the chance to bring up the Club for Growth ad, which he stated said something untrue about him, and asked if Lee would denounce the ad. He stressed again that Lee was all about his party but that if elected he, meaning McMullin, would make Utah an influential state. It should be noted that Lee’s campaign has nothing to do with Club for Growth and that as an independent, McMullin would have no caucus, theoretically.

McMullin also accused Lee of urging the Trump White House to find fake electors to overturn the last presidential election. McMullin said Lee advised the administration to undertake “spurious efforts” to encourage people to say that the election was stolen and had betrayed his oath to the Constitution. Lee fired back: “Evan, that’s not true. You know that’s not true. You, sir, owe me an apology.” Lee said that in the days leading up to the vote count, he researched rumors that states were switching electors. He investigated those claims and they were not true which is why he voted for certification. McMullin said that during the January 6 incident, “The barbarians were at the gate.”


McMullin also accused Lee of being an antiabortion extremist and wanting to prevent 10-year-olds from getting abortions, which Lee refuted.

Inflation was briefly touched on, with Lee stating that federal spending was the cause of the problem. McMullin retreated again into a bipartisan argument, stating that a senator should stand up to both parties. Lee has said that he stood up to Trump on many occasions.

A student in attendance asked about the prospect of war. Lee said it was time to increase the size of the Navy and update technology as well as boost trade power. McMullin said that the U.S. should strengthen its relationship with other nations, but that the country needed to elect a senator who will stand up to foreign dictators, saying that Lee was not blacklisted by Putin since he has voted against sanctions against Russia and even visited there. Lee explained that there were riders in those sanctions that did not belong in the bills. He added that he went to Russia on behalf of imprisoned LDS missionaries. He called McMullin’s accusations that he was a fan of Putin absolutely false.

McMullin closed by stating that politics in America are broken and hindered by special interested donors and extremes, which Lee embraced.  He said the country is at risk from broken politics and that if elected, Utah would become a major force in government

Lee said that if this were an ordinary year without inflation and recession and an adversary rattling nuclear weapons, supporting a gadfly and closet Democrat like McMullin might make for interesting conversation. But Lee added that this was not an ordinary year and said that people knew him and what he stood for: freedom, liberty, criminal justice, and no war without congressional approval.


During the televised media scrum the reporters were much more upbeat with McMullin and accused Lee of attacking his opponent. Lee later said that McMullin’s new base, the Democrat party, sent McMullin to the debate to mount baseless attacks and a smear campaign, which he did and which is why McMullin has spent his time and this debate taking shots at Lee. Lee also noted that McMullin campaigned and voted for Joe Biden and has evaded the issues such as inflation and public safety while staying on the attack. The issues of rising crime rates and the recent actions of the Department of Justice were never raised during the debate.

McMullin tried to get Lee off of his game with the constant attacks. He looked a little more relaxed, but Lee was able to keep his cool throughout the event. But it was clear that while Lee was there with the facts, McMullin was there to generate sound bites, and in the case of Russia only told part of the truth. And Lee caught him in a lie about January 6.

But McMullin may find some traction with the accusations and lies. McMullin knows that he has the national media on his side and was looking to plant seeds in the voters’ minds. He might have scored some points in that respect. Lee came to debate and McMullin came with innuendo.

McMullin kept stressing bipartisanship, but as noted in a story reported by Breitbart on Monday, Utah’s “independent” candidate for Senate may not be as middle-of-the-road as he wants voters to believe. Sean Moran stated that McMullin has been using Act Blue as a fundraising platform, as opposed to WinRed, the GOP equivalent. If McMullin does not want to use the Republican platform as an independent, that’s his choice. But why, then, is he working with the Democrats to advance his cause? According to the story, he has also shelled out $1.6 million in advertising funds, including $700,000 to Break Something, a digital advertising firm that works to elect Democrats; $281,000 to Democrat consulting firm Precision Strategies founded by Stephanie Cutter and Jen O’Malley Dillon (who are “Biden allies”); and $182,151 to Impact Research, which lists Biden as a client. The campaign has also used Foundation Strategies, Spiros Consulting, Blueprint Public Affairs, Deliver Strategies, and KMM Strategies, all Democrat firms. His campaign manager, Andrew Roberts, has worked for such luminaries as Ben McAdams, Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, and even Barack Obama. For his part, Lee believes that if elected McMullin will caucus with Democrats.


Polls have never been 100% reliable, particularly in this day and age. But the latest Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll showed Lee leading 41 percent to McMullin’s 37 percent last week. It remains to be seen if Utah voters will be able to see past the theatrics on Election Day.


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