Delaware U.S. Senate candidates argue ISIS and compromise [video]

 (Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

(Nichelle Polston/WHYY)

Everything from the economy, Ebola, foreign policy, the U.S. Border, bipartisanship and the war on gun violence was put on the table for the three Delaware candidates for the U.S. Senate to debate.

Incumbent Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., Republican Kevin Wade and Green party candidate Andrew Groff took center stage to first tackle terrorism, particularly the group ISIS.

TerrorismWade stressed new leadership is necessary when it comes to fighting ISIS who he called the most brutal movement to emerge since the Nazi SS. According to Wade, current leadership has made some bad decisions that could prevent U.S Armed Forces from fighting ISIS.

He drew a connection between the fight against terror and the downsizing of the U.S. military. “It wasn’t too long ago that the military plans were to downsize the navy to a size that wasn’t seen since 1916 and an army to a size since 1940, said Wade. We will have to lead the world in destroying Isis and those who share that ideology.”

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Groff talked about strategy in fighting ISIS while Sen. Coons clarified a comment he made in an MSNBC interview concerning the need to wait for a new congress to handle the threat of ISIS despite current tragic events and bombings. The senator said there are still legitimate questions about the strategy to fight Isis that armed forces and foreign relations still need to debate.

GunsThe WHYY/WDEL debate at Widner University Law School on Wednesday also got into the issue of gun violence.  Wade took the point of view that untreated severe mental illnesses is the main problem behind guns ending up in the hands of the wrong people. However, Sen. Coons argued that mental illness is only a part of the problem and that the background checks system across the country needs to be strengthened.

Coons added that there are far too many states that don’t contribute data to the national background check system and a gun show loophole making it possible for almost anyone to buy guns. He added that Delaware is not one of those states.

Groff weighed in too but dug a little deeper into the issue. “We have paradigm of violence in our culture,” said Groff, who added the paradigm of violence is picked up by young people as a valid means for conflict resolution.

“We have to teach peace. We don’t teach in our schools conflict resolutions skills but we have plenty of reinforcement for our paradigm of violence in this country, that keeps being reinforced,” Groff said.

When it comes to guns, the problem doesn’t appear to be the actual weapon but the mindset Groff expressed. “We seem to want to kill anything that we don’t understand or that we disagree with,” Groff said.

Affordable health careThe three candidates had differing views on ObamaCare.  Wade said the Affordable Healthcare Act “replaced something that has worked for 90 percent of the people.” Groff, a business owner like Wade, voiced the opposite point of view, and stated he’s glad for ObamaCare but isn’t fully satisfied with it. Groff even pointed to a Universal Healthcare or Single-payer system adopted by others countries that could work instead. He believes that a single payer system is more “efficient.”

Sen. Coons disagreed. “In general the Affordable Care Act has been good for the state of Delaware,” Coons said.  

The senator said people could see that by just taking a look at health insurance in the past and before the Affordable Care Act. He added that he was not in the senate for the original vote, but has been working to fix some of the problems caused by the law.

There were millions of Americans who believed that they were earning high quality health insurance through their workplace only to discover that there were problems such as those denied coverage due to pre-existing illnesses, according to Coons.

“In the long run it will improve the health of America and reduce our total healthcare costs,” Coons said.

CompromiseWhether or not the candidates did much convincing in one of their last joint debates, voters will have the final say on November 4th. Each of them said compromise was important. Although they didn’t totally agree on the way to compromise.

“Let’s drop the labels and let’s come together where we can come together as quickly as possible because we have to show the American people that we can get some things done,” Wade said.

Coons who was ranked as one of the most bi-partisan senators in the current senate shared his thoughts. “I have a record of real bipartisan compromise across a wide range of issues,” Coons said.

A move that Groff said Coons was a little too comfortable with by working across the aisle.

“This idea of compromise and we’re still talking about the same two parties and the same structure,” said Groff who eluded that only change can happen beyond the Democratic and Republican parties.


You can catch the debate this Friday on WHYY-TV at 5p.m and again 11p.m It will also be posted online Friday afternoon at

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