The U.S. Senate debate between incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee and independent Evan McMullin took place in front of a live audience at the Ragan Theater at Utah Valley University. It is the only scheduled debate between the two ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Ballots will start being mailed out Tuesday.

Doug Wright, a former KSL NewsRadio host, moderated the debate.

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Following are highlights from the debate:

What is that one thing you would bring to Utah?

Sen. Mike Lee: “Stop excessive federal spending. ... I’ve stood against my party time and time again to oppose reckless spending. I will do it again and again and again. We need people to say ‘no,’ because when Washington only wants to spend money, they’re spending it at your expense.”

Evan McMullin: “The reality is, we need to send people to Washington who are willing to stand up both to Republicans and Democrats in the White House who are guilty of reckless spending because the administration before Joe Biden, Donald Trump’s, was guilty of the same.”

Did Joe Biden fairly win the 2020 presidential election?

Mike Lee: “Yes, Joe Biden is our president. He was chosen in the only election that matters, the election held by the electoral college. It was on that basis that I voted to certify the election results. ... As to whether there were errors, as to whether some states might have conducted their elections better than others, there’s always room for debate and questions about that.”

Evan McMullin: “Well I certainly think it’s important that we protect voter’s rights and we protect the peaceful transfer of power, Sen. Lee. But for you to talk about the importance of the electoral college, I think, is rich. I think you know exactly how important it is, and I think you knew how important it was when you sought to urge the White House that had lost an election to find fake electors to overturn the will of the people. Sen. Lee, that was the most egregious betrayal of our nation’s constitution in its history by a U.S. senator, I believe, and it will be your legacy.”

Sen. Mike Lee’s rebuttal: “Evan, that’s not true. You know that’s not true. You, sir, owe me an apology.”

How do you characterize the events that happened on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol?

Evan McMullin: “It was a violent insurrection with the intention of overturning the American Republic. ... You told the president that you were working overtime — 14 hours a day, I think you said, — to unravel this for him. To keep a president who had been voted out of office according to the will of the people, in power, despite the will of the people. Sen. Lee, it is a betrayal of the American Republic.”

Sen. Mike Lee: “I think I disagree with everything my opponent just said including the words ‘but,’ ‘and’ and ‘the.’ It was an information-free, truth-free statement, that’s something of a record. There is absolutely nothing to the idea that I would have ever supported, ever did support the fake elector’s plot. Nothing. There’s not even a scintilla of evidence suggesting that. Yet you continue to insist that with a cavalier, reckless disregard for the truth. This is sad. This is troubling. It’s also entirely consistent with your adopted political party.”

Evan McMullin: “Sen. Lee, you know I’m not a Democrat. But you’re not worried about that. You’re worried about the fact that I’m an independent and that I’m building a cross-partisan coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents and members of third parties to replace you and to stand up to your broken politics ...”

Sen. Mike Lee: “The words (of the Constitution) matter. I’ve followed the words. You distort the truth. And you should be ashamed.”

What solutions do you have for the student loan crisis?

Sen. Mike Lee: “The first and best thing that the federal government could with regards to student loans is get out of the student loan business. It has no business there.”

Evan McMullin: “I still think the federal government does have a role to play, especially for low-income students or for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford higher education, but it has contributed to inflation of the worst kind in higher education, and we have to reform that to bring prices down.”

Do you support continuing social security and medicare?

Evan McMullin: “I do. I believe that social security and medicare are important elements of our social fabric in America. I’ll work with anybody who wants to ensure our senior’s future. I think the biggest challenge right now is our fiscal irresponsibility in this country, and again I’m talking about both parties.”

Sen. Mike Lee: “We have seen the peril of putting this power in the federal government. ... Yes we need to honor those things. And we also need to reform them to make it more difficult for Congress to raid seniors’ money.”

Who do you feel bears most of the responsibility for the higher prices?

Sen. Mike Lee: “(Milton Friedman) said in the United States of America, inflation has but one cause. It is federal spending. Reckless, excessive federal spending. ... We thought it was too much cowbell before. They gave it 10 times the cowbell.”

Evan McMullin: “The job of a senator, especially representing our state, has to be to stand up to leaders of both parties, to Joe Biden and to Donald Trump. That’s what’s required, Sen. Lee, because both parties are spending recklessly.”

Sen. Mike Lee: “I called (Pres. Trump) out in public and in private, on a train, in the rain, with a fox in a box, every time I got the chance.”

How will each of you approach foreign policy in the Senate?

Sen. Mike Lee: “We need a Republican offset to a president who’s not all there, to a president for whom my opponent voted, a president who has been saber-rattling and speaking of Armageddon under circumstances that are deeply troubling to all of us.”

Evan McMullin: “We need to elect leaders and representatives of this freedom-loving state that will stand up to foreign dictators and not enable them. Sen. Lee, remarkably, you are the only member of Utah’s congressional delegation, he already knows where I’m going, not to be blacklisted by Vladimir Putin. It’s an incredible distinction.

“You know, there’s a reason why, It’s because in 2017, Sen. Lee was one of only two senators to vote against sanctioning Putin’s regime. Then in 2019, he went to Russia alone and discussed lifting sanctions with him. He has voted repeatedly against supporting Ukraine.”

Sen. Mike Lee: “I voted against the sanction bill because it was cobbled together in a piece of legislation with some progressive ideology. Perhaps you’re OK with that. I was not. I voted against it.

“As far as going to Russia, I went to Russia at the invitation of my friend, mentor and former boss Jon Huntsman, who was then the U.S. ambassador to Russia. I did so because I needed to stand up for religious freedom. We had had missionaries and other Americans imprisioned for their religious beliefs in Russia, and I found this unacceptable and that’s why I went there.

“As to why they haven’t blacklisted me, I don’t know. I’d love to be blacklisted there. I’ve been banned for life from China. I hope Russia will ban me next. But for you to suggest, as you have repeatedly, that I’m some sort of fan of Vladimir Putin is absolutely false and disgraceful.”

How are you thinking about the legal questions around abortion?

Evan McMullin: “I’m pro-life, and I’ve always believed in the sanctify of life. And I oppose the extremes on both sides of this issue. Those that are in favor of late-term abortion on-demand or those who would demand abortions without exceptions. I think that’s wrong. This issue is dividing our country unnecessarily. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Sen. Mike Lee: “Now that it’s been returned to the states where it belongs, I believe that is where it belongs, and with a small handful of exceptions dealing with federal funding ... this is where it should remain. Because it’s within the states that we can achieve the most consensus and protect the most babies.”