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Michigan gubernatorial debate: Gretchen Whitmer and Tudor Dixon spar over abortion, COVID school closures

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Abortion and coronavirus school closures dominated Tuesday’s final Michigan gubernatorial debate. 

Incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her GOP challenger, Tudor Dixon, squared off two weeks before Election Day. As polls show the race increasingly tight, both women sought to portray the other as an extremist on the issue of abortion. 

‘You can’t trust anything she says when it comes to reproductive rights,’ said Whitmer, who is vying for a second term as Michigan’s chief executive. 

Dixon, meanwhile, accused Whitmer of being out of the political mainstream on abortion. 

‘The governor has just been dishonest,’ said Dixon, a mother of four and former conservative commentator. ‘In her past, she’s voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion.’ 

Both women said that voters would likely have the final say on the issue, however. Voters will have the chance to approve or deny a ballot initiative this year codifying abortion protections into Michigan’s constitution. 

‘If this is what the people want, then I will enforce that,’ said Dixon. 

The candidates also sparred over school closures during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.  

‘I worked closely with my Republican and Democratic governors and kids were out for three months,’ said the governor. ‘The fact of the matter is education is what levels the playing field for people, and we’ve under-invested in it for decades.’ 

Dixon, for her part, accused Whitmer of keeping Michigan public schools closed longer than other states.

‘Perhaps she wasn’t paying attention to what was actually happening. We even had schools that were closed this year,’ said Dixon. ‘Maybe she thinks she can convince you that schools were only closed for three months, but you know better because your students are the ones that are desperately behind.’ 

Polls show the contest between Whitmer and Dixon increasingly a tossup. The race to date has been defined by the issue of abortion, as well as crime and inflation. 

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