Missouri GOP candidates answer viewer questions in debate

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COLUMBIA - KOMU 8 News asked you what questions you would like to ask gubernatorial candidates. We also collected questions you shared with us during Facebook Live conversation. 

During the responses to a few of our viewer questions, candidates got off topic and attacked each other. Those attacks and responses are included under the candidate's answers to viewer questions.

Our first viewer-generated question to candidates was about minimum wage.

The question: "When we asked viewers what they wanted to hear about from you, minimum wage came up more than any other topic. Michelle Reed said, “The minimum wage should be a living wage.” Where do you stand on raising the minimum wage and what do you think it should be?"

Catherine Hanaway said the worst thing Missouri can do is to have different minimum wages throughout the state. She said what Missouri has to do is win the competition to have better jobs than other states.

Hanaway and Grietens squabble off-topic. 

At the end of Hanaway's answer, she changed topics to  criticize one of Eric Greitens's donors, who has been the subject of a sexual abuse scandal. Hanaway claimed a million-dollar contributor to Greitens's campaign faces allegation of sexual assault and called on Greitens to return the money. 

Eric Greitens responded to Hannawy's comments without responding to the minimum wage question and instead calling her 'desperate' and untrustworthy. Greitens then questioned her support of concealed carry saying she voted against concealed carry multiple times. 

"Her record on protecting your second amendment rights was so bad that the NRA gave her a D, a rating lower than Chris Koster," Greitens said. "Now look, we need to have strong leaders who are willing to step forward, and unfortunately Catherine is just another career politician who is desperate for office and willing to convict people in the court of public opinion."

Hanaway responded by noting the NRA's endorsement of her as the 'best choice.' She also said the sponsor of the bill said it "would not have happened without her."

Candidates returned to the topic of minimum wage. 

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder said he supports the current minimum wage law in Missouri, which voters wanted. He said he likes that the Missouri's minimum wage is indexed to the inflation rate. He said, ‘it is the wrong message for government to send” to artificially raise minimum wage.

John Brunner said it is about a living wage, but said, "you get a living wage by growing the economy." He said you need a business man to get the job done.

(This video has excerpts from the question and responses.)

The second viewer-generated question was about the legalization of marijuana. 

The question: "Many of our viewers want to know where you stand on the legalization of marijuana, either for recreational use or medical use. On our Facebook page, Mike N Opal Wilson asked, 'Why is alcohol and packing firearms legal when recreational marijuana is not,'  given the potential for medical benefits and tax revenues. Tell us your view."

Brunner was the first to answer, saying he is against the legalization of marijuana. He said he is open to more research about potential medical benefits. He also said he thinks there are other ways to grow the economy that do not involve the possible tax revenues generated legalizing marijuana.

Kinder said supports legalizing medical marijuana when it is under a doctor's order for terminally ill patients. He said he is not for legalization for recreation uses. However, before his time was up, Kinder also brought up the Greitens donor mentioned during the last viewer-generated question.

Greitens responded by saying Kinder is the last person who should be talking about men in strip clubs, a reference to Kinder's admitted visits to such clubs.

Kinder answered Greitens by saying Greitens used to be a Democrat. Greitens said he grew up as a Democrat. He said he is a Republican because of his experiences running a business and serving the country.

After that exchange candidates got back to answering the viewer-generated question about marijuana. 

Hanaway said, when she was a prosecutor, she saw how drug addiction can ruin families. She said she opposed the legalization of marijuana for both recreational and medical uses. However, she said she is open to learning more about it for medical purposes.  

Greitens said, “It is simple, there is no stoned path to prosperity.”

On medical marijuana he said Missouri must be a compassionate state and help children with epilepsy. 

(This video has excerpts from the question and responses.)

Another viewer-generated question was about divisive politics.

The question: "Our viewers shared many concerns about the divisive state of politics. One of the people taking our survey asked, how will you try to get Democrats and Republicans to work together?"

Greitens said leaders need to bring people together to work together. He said he has done that through humanitarian work overseas and while working as a Navy Seal.

Brunner said, at the end of the day, it starts with mutual respect. He said cooperation is about less talking and more listening.

Kinder said he has a track record of showing up in minority communities. He said he is willing to work with anyone of good will.

Hanaway said she has worked with Democrats before. She said she persuaded Democrats to back conceal-and-carry legislation. She said she created an Urban Affairs Committee and put a Democrat as the head of the committee, even though Republicans were the majority. 

(This video has excerpts from the question and responses.)

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