U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert was combative before the first debate question was even asked. Boebert had agreed to debate Democrat opponent Adam Frisch at Colorado Mesa University’s Robinson Theatre in Grand Junction, hosted by Club 20, a western Colorado coalition of counties, individuals, businesses and associations.
Moderator Edie Sunn begun by asking each candidate to agree to be respectful and abide by debate rules. Boebert exploded by shouting that the moderator had supported her Democrat opponent Diane Mitsch Bush in the 2020 November election.
The outburst elicited some booing from the audience – approximately 80 people attended the headliner debate of the day – though it was unclear whether the boos were in support or opposition to Boebert’s behavior. Unlike typical Boebert rallies the audience was more neutral with both candidates receiving roughly an equal amount of applause throughout the event.
“It’s not about me; it’s about you and your opponent,” Sunn said. “I respectfully ask you to agree to the rules of the debate,” adding that if she refused, they could just end it right there.
Before consenting, Boebert said “I just wanted the audience to know and Club 20 to know you’re not a nonpartisan moderator.”
During her introductory remarks and throughout the debate, Boebert railed against fellow Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. She mentioned the Speaker of the House about a dozen times.
“Liberal extremism is dangerous and I’m determined to stop it and fire Nancy Pelosi,” Boebert said. The American people want the government off of our backs. And I’ve got news for the Department of Justice – parents who attend school board meetings are not terrorists. I’m using my voice as your representative to put a stop to liberal extremism. I’ve voted against bill after bill of Nancy Pelosi’s con games.
Frisch began his introductory remarks by stating, “I’m Adam Frisch, not Nancy Pelosi,”- a refrain he used throughout the debate.
He went on to say “I am a conservative small business owner and tired of the “angertainment” industry led by Boebert and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (MTG) of Georgia.
“Serious times deserve serious leadership,” he said.
“People are sick and tired of the circus. I’m focused on Colorado jobs and energy. You have failed us, Frisch told Boebert. “You’ve consistently voted against farmers and ranchers. On March 3 you voted against expanded health benefits for veterans. You and MTG voted against leukemia research.”
Three panelists took turns asking questions submitted by Club 20 and its partners. Both candidates spoke of the importance of developing water storage projects.
Boebert claimed she secured $10 million for water projects for the Southern Ute Tribe, though Frisch pointed out several times during the debate that she was taking credit for bills she voted against.
Boebert fliers list nine things she’s “accomplished” and yet she voted against them, Frisch said.
“It’s not what you put in the flier, it’s what you do in Congress,” he said. “She’s voted against infrastructure – roads, bridges, broadband. It’s important to figure out how to bring those dollars home.”
Frisch pointed out that Boebert has passed zero of the 39 bills she’s introduced.
Boebert responded with “Let’s break this down. In Washington, D.C. Nancy Pelosi will put a 2,000-page bill on my desk at midnight – the infrastructure bill that passed – it’s her con game.
I’m not playing Nancy Pelosi’s con game.”
Frisch replied that she could keep talking about Pelosi, but that we still need infrastructure.
The two candidates agreed that forests are overgrown and must be managed properly to reduce the risk of wildfires. That topic then prompted Boebert to complain about U.S. Rep. (CO-D) Diana DeGette’s wilderness proposal which would protect more than 660,000 acres of wilderness in 36 distinct areas across Colorado.
“I’ve led the charge stopping these land grabs,” Boebert said.
When asked how they would respond, if elected, to climate change, Frisch reiterated the importance of maintaining healthy forests and water conservation.
Boebert proposed more oil and gas development. With a nod to her oil-and-gas worker husband Jayson, sitting in the front row of the theatre, she said the U.S. should be employing its “roughnecks,” as opposed to buying energy from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.
“Our energy production is the cleanest in the world,” she said.
The United States does not purchase oil from either Iran or Venezuela. Iranian oil imports stopped in the 1990s and America last purchased oil from Venezuela in 2019.
The candidates were asked if they supported President Joe Biden’s goal of a 100% carbon-free electricity grid by 2035. Frisch said that while the U.S. is moving in the right direction with renewable energy, natural gas will remain the bedrock fuel for a while.
“It’s imperative we keep jobs, energy production here,” he said. “I’d love 100% renewables in 2023,” although he advocates an “all of the above approach.”
Boebert said “We need to explore nuclear, which is the cleanest” – although questions remain regarding what to do with the highly radioactive waste that accrues from mining uranium.
Frisch pointed out that Boebert voted against the Pipeline Security Act that would have protected pipelines from cyber-attacks.
During the “cross examination” portion of the debate Frisch asked Boebert why she hasn’t held town hall meetings with constituents. She replied she sends out newsletters, and does tele-town halls.
When Frisch mentioned how Boebert and MTG were the only two votes against cancer research, Boebert again turned it on Pelosi by saying “it makes me sad when Nancy Pelosi uses the most vulnerable among us to push her agenda.”
Frisch asked Boebert if she thought the 19th Amendment should be repealed, to which Boebert replied “no.”
Frisch then asked Boebert if she would support exemptions to an abortion ban for cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.
“I’m pro-life, and I’m proud to say they [the U.S. Supreme Court] got this right when they sent it back to the states to decide,” she said, referencing the recent Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
When it was Boebert’s turn to cross-examine, she took the time instead to rapidly run through a list of charges against Frisch, including his claims of always being an unaffiliated voter before changing parties to run as a Democrat against Boebert. She said she had proof he once registered as a Democrat years ago. She also mentioned a multi-million-dollar property Frisch remodeled, and delays she said he sought from the city of Aspen on fees associated with the property. Boebert also asked Frisch if he did anything to reduce jet traffic while serving on Aspen City Council.
“You are a New Green Deal extremist,” she said. “Saying you are a moderate is part of the con game.”
When the moderator attempted to interject Boebert’s tirade she kept on talking before pausing for a moment.
“Could you repeat the question?” Frisch asked Boebert, to a smattering of laughter from the audience.
At one point toward the end of the debate Boebert blurted “The problem in Washington, D.C. is there’s not enough of me.”
Club 20 live-streamed all the debates on its Facebook page. The Boebert-Frisch debate begins at approximately 1:42:00.