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Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Republican U.S. Senate candidates speak against college campuses in primary debate

Candidates say campuses push anti-semitism, ‘gender-ideology,’ shun conservative voices but differ in willingness to exert federal control
Courtesy of WJW-TV Fox 8
Left to right: U.S. Senate candidates, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Bernie Moreno and Ohio Senator Matt Dolan debate at Fox 8 Studios.

On Jan. 22, Republican United States Senate candidates Bernie Moreno, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ohio Senator Matt Dolan went head to head in a debate hosted by Fox 8, with all three candidates slamming college campuses for what they say are pushing “one dominant viewpoint,” including antisemitism and “gender ideology.”

While each candidate made claims about the political culture on college campuses, there were differing opinions regarding how much federal control should be exerted. 

Dolan said the issues should be left to the states, whereas Moreno’s approach potentially exerts influence through the U.S. Senate. 

Last May, Dolan voted in favor of Senate Bill 83, a campus ‘free speech’ bill that sought to encourage ‘intellectual diversity’ and would withhold state funding if diversity training was required. During the debate, he commended the bill’s primary sponsor, Ohio Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland). 

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“We have taken on the higher ed,” Dolan said. “[Ohio Senator] Jerry Cirino has led the charge, and we are taking them on.” 

When The Exponent asked Dolan if he had any national plans akin to those leveraged in SB 83, Dolan said he would leave the issue to the states. 

“If we can pass SB 83 in Ohio, we don’t need to,” Dolan said. “I don’t want the federal government involved in education.” 

However, Moreno’s spokesperson, Conor McGuinness, said the federal government could involve itself by revoking funding to certain universities.

“There’s all sorts of things we can do, starting with looking at [revoking] federal funding,” McGuinness said. “I think an important start is looking at these colleges that are promulgating anti-semitism.” 


Bernie Moreno’s spokesperson, Conor McGuinness, speaks on university funding in the spin room.


Discussion about college campuses spread to other areas of the debate as well, including the Israel-Hamas War.

All three candidates showed support for Israel amidst the war, but after the moderators asked Moreno to respond to Dolan’s campaign remarks, calling Moreno’s remarks on Israel in October on Israel ‘fringe and isolationist,’ Moreno asked Dolan if he would fire professors over their stance on the conflict. 

“I would have Matt, who was a state senator, call in the boards of trustees at Ohio universities and fire the Palestinian-terrorist sympathizing professors,” Moreno said. “Will you do that?” 

Dolan’s campaign remarks were made in response to Moreno’s claim made in October that Israel does not need American money, but during the debate, Moreno said that it was only because of the timing that he made that statement. 

The candidates also spoke about the current transgender-care bill in Ohio, House Bill 68, passed on Jan. 24 after overriding Governor Mike DeWine’s veto. The bill bans minors from receiving gender-affirming care and does not allow transgender women or girls to participate in women’s sports. 

Dolan, who voted for HB 68, said that issues of gender-affirming care should strictly be left up to the states. 

“The 10th amendment makes it clear the issues that are not expressly stated in the Constitution are left to the states in Ohio,” Dolan said. “ We want to protect our children. We want to protect women’s sports.”

Moreno disagreed with Dolan, stating that the federal government should be involved in women’s sports.

“The reality is there’s a federal role. It’s called Title IX,” Moreno said. “We have to protect women’s sports. Women worked a long time to make sure that they had sports.”

Moreno also said that the federal government should involve itself in gender-affirming care for minors since he said children who take the hormone are regulated federally by the Food and Drug Administration. 

LaRose said that he was concerned about the “gender ideology” spreading on college campuses across America.

“There’s a radical gender ideology that’s gripped college campuses in East and West Coast states, and unfortunately, it’s now coming to Ohio,” LaRose said. 

Besides college campus culture, the candidates also discussed immigration, the 2024 presidential race, abortion and other hot-topic issues. 

All three candidates said they want to secure the southern border with a wall and the deportation of all illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. 

It… means no amnesty, if your first act in this country is to break our laws, you should never be rewarded with citizenship, birthright citizenship, or any government benefits,” LaRose said. 

However, the candidates repeatedly attacked one another for not being strict enough in their immigration policies. 

Both of them will favor amnesty,” Moreno said.

Regarding the upcoming presidential election, while all three candidates claimed to support President Donald Trump’s policies, Moreno was endorsed by the former president. 

However, Dolan said that while he has always supported Trump policies, the other two have deleted previous anti-Trump comments and only recently changed their tune on Donald Trump. 

[Ohio voters] also know the only thing you can trust about my two opponents is that when the political winds change, they will change with,” Dolan said. “I will not.”

All three candidates said that President Joe Biden’s economic plan has led to the rise in inflation. Still, each claimed to have the exclusive experience necessary to impact the economy positively. 

Moreno said that the private sector needs to be unleashed to create more jobs and that, as a businessman, he knows how to do that. 

Dolan said he is the only candidate with experience in the private and public sectors. 

LaRose said that he could understand the life of the average Ohioan better than the other two. 

I live in the real economy, just like everyday Ohioans,” LaRose said. “Not sure that my opponents here have to sit at the kitchen table and figure out how they’re going to pay their bills the way most Ohioans do.”

On the topic of abortion, all three candidates agreed that it should be a federal issue precisely because, they said, late-term abortions should not be something that the U.S. stands for. 

Moreno proposed a federal 15-week floor for performing abortions, which he said matches even the most left-leaning European nations. 

LaRose said he also supports other abortion prevention policies, which, he said, could gather the necessary bipartisan support as opposed to federal bans.  

And so it’s not enough to be pro-birth, we have to truly be pro-life,” LaRose said. “And that means supportive services for those mothers that make the courageous decision to maybe be a single mother.”


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