The two candidates in the Republican runoff for Alabama's second congressional district debated at Government Plaza in Mobile on Monday.

In an event that will air on Mobile television's WALA later this month, former State Sen. Dick Brewbaker (R-Montgomery) and Montgomery attorney Caroleene Dobson started the debate by explaining their political philosophy and why they are running.

"Some of the people in the room and some of the people watching on TV, I think your lives might be a little bit better because I was in the legislature," Brewbaker said.

Brewbaker pointed to his support for school choice.

"When the State Department of Education tried to outlaw homeschooling, I wrote into the code of strongest protections for homeschools and private schools in the country," he added.

Dobson said she was the first Republican to qualify in the race, but she's not a politician.

"I grew up on a farm in Monroe County," she said. "I now live in Montgomery with my husband and two girls, where I practice real estate law and serve on the Forestry Commission."

While she is proud to live in Alabama, Dobson said the country's future is at stake.

"Whether it's closing the border, supporting our military, balancing the budget, securing energy independence, or fighting against woke culture, there's real work to be done, and we don't need to send a retired career politician."

Topics covered during the debate were artificial intelligence, inflation, immigration, healthcare, Second Amendment rights, industry, education, taxes and transgender rights.


The first question the candidates were asked was about artificial intelligence and how they believe the government should handle technology development.

While he doesn't think AI will be the same "political manipulator" as other technologies, such as social media, he believes there should be a six-month moratorium on new models. He said more transparency from companies developing AI is needed.

"There's very little transparency in the development of AI technologies, and that's why people are afraid of it," Brewbaker said. "We need to get this out in the open so people act out of knowledge, not out of fear."

Dobson's concern is political manipulation. She compared the technology to nuclear warfare.

"AI has tremendous economic opportunities, but there's also a huge downside," said Dobson. "It's a lot like nuclear technology. You know, we have limitless power, but we also have atomic weapons. So, we have to approach AI with the knowledge that big tech and liberal media are going to try to harness AI to use it to suppress conservative thought."


When it comes to inflation, both candidates acknowledged families are still being negatively impacted. Dobson offered four things we can do to find relief.

"One is cut government spending, which we must do," she said. "Second is lower taxes. Third is to deregulate, and fourth is to unleash American energy independence."

 Brewbaker blamed high energy costs and the Biden administration.

"It is time for Alabama families to stop paying the fare so green energy elites can make more money," Brewbaker said. "The time has come for us to, instead of putting the brakes on U.S. energy production, is to open it up."


The candidates were also asked if they thought there was a crisis at the border and if the U.S. should stop illegal immigration.

"It's completely unsustainable for this country to support that kind of illegal immigration," Brewbaker said. "The danger to American families is obvious. The dangers of terrorism and the dangers of crime."

Brewbaker added that the fentanyl crisis is being fueled by the federal government's failure to protect the border.

"The time has come for the government to close the border and to deport people who are here illegally," he said. "Excuse me, secure the borders."

Dobson called the crisis at the border an invasion.

"We need to close the border, build the wall, send everyone home who's here illegally — and I'm including children who are born to illegal aliens because they should not be entitled to American citizenship," she said. "And we should also enforce President Trump's Stay in Mexico policy."

Dobson said along with crimes and drugs, an insecure border lends itself to voter fraud.

However, Brewbaker said the U.S. cannot close the border because that would impact trade and jobs. He also accused Dobson of lying about his record during the campaign. Dobson responded by claiming Brewbaker voted to reduce penalties for voter ID fraud and said he had downplayed the fentanyl crisis.


The newly-drawn Congressional District 2 includes much of the state's industry, including automotive, aerospace and the Mobile Port.

Brewbaker said he would fight to protect Mobile's industry by ensuring good economic trade policies were in place. He also said infrastructure projects such as ship channels, the Bayway Bridge, and the West Alabama Causeway are important projects on which federal money should be spent.

Dobson said she would fight for the Mobile Port rail line, which she believes would relieve traffic in other areas of the state.


LGBTQ issues were discussed along with education issues. Part of the discussion included the federal government's involvement with local schools and how LGBT issues are handled. Dobson and Brewbaker disagreed on allowing the federal government to have a say.

"We still need a federal apparatus to ensure that our schools throughout the nation are free of critical race theory, that girls' sports are for girls only, and that we are teaching civics in our schools throughout the nation because we as a country will fail if we're not unified," Dobson said.

"I disagree that we need a federal apparatus to govern schools," Brewbaker responded. "Schools have always been a state function; they need to remain so. The problem with U.S. Department of Education, whether it's the intrusion of LGBT agenda in the school curriculum or transgender issues being interjected in girls' sports, that stuff is being developed in Washington, not in the states. If we return these issues to the states where they belong, we wouldn't have to argue."

When it comes to transgender rights and, in particular,r sports and gender-affirming care of youth, the two seemed to agree.

"In the context of sports, I absolutely do not support them," Brewbaker stated. "Lia Thomas went from the 405th best male swimmer in the country to the leading female swimmer. It's not right to penalize young women who have trained and worked their whole lives to get athletic scholarships and excel in sports to have someone who is biologically a man come in and compete with them on an unfair basis."

As for adults, Brewbaker said Americans should be able to do what they want to do.

"But when it comes to children, having minors be encouraged by adults, especially adults outside their family, to have irreversible surgeries that will put them on strong medications for the rest of their lives, make them bring them permanently sterile, is not a decision a young person can make," Brewbaker continued.

Dobson said that she is concerned as a mother of two girls.

"I am deeply concerned about the possibility that biological males could not only be competing with them in sports, but it could be in their locker rooms, could be in their camp doors," Dobson said. "Look, gender is God-ordained and biologically determined. It's a reality, it's not an ideology, it's not a feeling, and we have to protect our children."

Dobson said she has been made aware of children's books influencing young readers to think about gender issues.

"Folks, the liberals are coming for our preschoolers, and we have to fight to ensure that girls' sports are for girls," Dobson added. "Those locker rooms are for biological girls only. And then, we are protecting our kids, not only their physical bodies but also their libraries."

Brewbaker added he believes hospitals are performing surgeries and treatment on minors for money.

"That's the worst possible motive for any type of fraudulent health care," he said.

"Children are gifts from God, and it's up to us to protect them," Dobson responded. "And I will fight to ensure that no children will be subjected to hormone treatments or irreversible surgeries."


The candidates were also asked about TikTok. Brewbaker said he believes TikTok needs to be sold to an American company or thoroughly regulated. Dobson said she supports a TikTok ban and asked anyone with the app to delete it immediately.

On Israel, Brewbaker said he supports Israel's right to defend itself against terror attacks.

"Israel has an absolute right to protect itself. And the reason all this terrorism is happening right now in the Middle East is because of an American failure of leadership in Afghanistan," he added.

Dobson said she also supports Israel.

"We as Americans need to take a stronger stance in supporting Israel," she said. "That means four things. First of all, we need to stop undermining and second-guessing the actions that Israel has taken. Israel has to invade Gaza. They have to eradicate Hamas, and it's time that we allow Israel to do what they need to do to keep their nation safe."

Dobson said America should also take a stronger stance against Iran, defund the UN and crack down on anti-Semitism.

In closing, the candidates were given one minute for final arguments.

"My parents always said, 'Remember where you are, where you're from, and act accordingly," Dobson said. "I am grateful for the values of hard work and humility that were instilled in me. And I think that we need more leaders in Washington."

"Unlike my opponent, I have lived my entire adult life here," Brewbaker said. "I raised five boys here. I've run a business for 35 years and employed over the years literally thousands of people. My family has four public schools named after my family because of the fact that we've reinvested in the community in which we live."

The Republican primary runoff is set for April 16.

The debate will air on WALA in Mobile and WSFA in Montgomery on April 8, at 4 p.m.

A debate between the Democratic candidates, Shomari Figures and House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (R-Huntsville), will air on April 9, at 4 p.m.

Both debates will be streamed online.

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