On the issues: Ron Johnson, Russ Feingold square off in first Senate debate

GREEN BAY -- Incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic challenger Russ Feingold squared off in their first debate for U.S. Senate on Friday evening, October 14th.

Feingold and Johnson answered questions on everything from the presidential candidates to gun rights, health care insurance and police-community relations.

Backing presidential candidates

Sen. Johnson is sticking with his support of Donald Trump, but he isn't saying his name.

Johnson was asked in Friday's U.S. Senate debate if he was still "100 percent" behind Trump as the Republican nominee. Johnson replied without saying Trump's name. But he says he supports "our Republican nominee" on a number of issues, including securing the border and fighting the Islamic State.

Feingold is issuing a challenge to Johnson to renounce Trump. Feingold says, "This one of those times where you have to be an American first, not a politician running for office."

Trump is campaigning Monday in Wisconsin but Johnson is skipping the event in Green Bay.

Police relations

Sen. Johnson touted a project he started to help connect people in the inner cities with manufacturing jobs.

Johnson spoke in Friday's Senate debate about the Joseph Project. He says that effort he started is the answer to helping people in struggling inner cities find jobs. His answer came in response to a question about how to tackle conflicts between police and minority communities.

Johnson's Democratic opponent Russ Feingold says the answer includes funding public schools, having police in the communities more often and not just in times of crisis and making sure there are thriving businesses in the neighborhoods.

Feingold says the issue of institutional bias must also be tackled.

Talking points

Feingold and Johnson both hit some of their main talking points in their first debate. But Johnson and Feingold touched on major platforms of their campaigns in Friday's debate.

Johnson dinged Feingold for supporting President Barack Obama's health care law, and Feingold jabbed Johnson for once referring to social security as a "Ponzi scheme."

Feingold is also making a plug for his support of raising the minimum wage, which Johnson opposes. And Johnson is talking about the Joseph Project, an initiative he started that connects people in the inner city with manufacturing jobs.

Feingold is also challenging Johnson to drop his support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Final pitch

Feingold says Wisconsin voters deserve a senator who will stand by them, not billionaires and special interests.

Johnson says Feingold is a career politician whose solution to every problem is to grow government.

Feingold is touting his support of paid family medical leave and raising the minimum wage to differentiate himself from Johnson. But Johnson says he has a record of accomplishment during his first term in the Senate and his experience building a plastics manufacturing company in Wisconsin makes him more qualified to know how to build jobs in the private sector.

Friday's debate was the first of two between the candidates before the election. The second debate is Tuesday night in Milwaukee.