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VIDEO: Democratic candidate O'Brien contradicts statements on funding education at 6th District debate


KALAMAZOO (WKZO) – The first of two debates between Congressman Fred Upton and challenger Mike O’Brien was held Monday night at Western Michigan University’s Knauss Hall.

Among the sparring that took place between the candidates last night, there was one particular conflict that is raising many eyebrows today. Democratic candidate Mike O’Brien made affirming statements on educational funding on two separate occasions during the debate, however he appeared to have disagreed with himself. 

Early in the debate, both candidates were asked, “Is there a government program that you support and think is worthwhile, but that you would be willing to reduce spending for in order to reach a compromise for debt reduction?” Congressman Upton had the first chance to answer saying, in short, that discretionary spending should be analyzed across the board, however, he supports bringing the troops home that would in turn alleviate $100 billion dollars in government spending. Answering the same question, candidate Mike O’Brien answered, “That’s easy, I would say education.” O’Brien went on to say, “There are a lot of redundant programs in the Department of Education. There are a lot of requirements that are actually burdening school districts, schools and teachers. We can reduce some of that.”

The troubling portion, for those closely following the debate, came later in the night when O’Brien answered the question, “What is the most important investment this country should make to ensure the well-being of our children?” O’Brien answers that education is the most important investment and that it, “is the most important thing this country can do.” O’Brien went on to challenging Upton to vow that he would not support any budget cuts to funding education K-12.  Watch above for footage of O’Brien’s answers as well as footage of the candidates answering both questions in their entirety.

The contradiction between O’Brien’s answers was quickly pointed out by Upton supporters attending the debate noting that O’Brien first said he wanted to closely analyze the educational budget and cut unnecessary spending, but he then declared to never support any financial reductions for education because it is "the country’s most important investment".

Congressman Upton did not point out O’Brien’s contradiction on educational funding during the debate; however, the inconsistencies in O’Brien’s answers look to be the leading issue from those supporting Upton’s campaign.  

Monday night’s debate was put on by WMUK and MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette. The next debate is scheduled for October 23rd at the Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, MI. WKZO will be providing a live stream available at WKZO.com