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Michigan governor debate video: Watch five key moments for Whitmer, Dixon

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon on a debate stage
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon sparred early and often during a Thursday debate in Grand Rapids. (Bryan Esler/WOOD TV8)

GRAND RAPIDS — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Republican challenger Tudor Dixon took their cases to Michigan voters Thursday night in their first of two televised debates. 

Viewers in much of Michigan can be forgiven for missing it. The Grand Rapids debate hosted by WOOD-TV wasn’t televised live in the state’s largest market.

That may be a blow to Dixon, who trails in the polls and welcomed the exposure, acknowledging early in the debate that many viewers may not know much about her. It’s also a blow to voters who missed a lively 60 minutes that saw the candidates delve into key issues and clearly illustrated the differences between the two.

Related: Michigan governor debate: Fact checking Whitmer-Dixon showdown

Bridge Michigan checked their facts last night, but if you missed the debate between Whitmer and Dixon, you can watch the full video here, or review five key exchanges below. A second gubernatorial debate is set for Oct. 25 in Rochester (and is expected to be televised statewide).

The election is Nov. 8.

Click on the link to view the highlights.

Opening arguments

Whitmer: “I still believe there is more that unites us and divides us.”

Dixon: “I’m running for governor because Gov. Whitmer, quite frankly, has let us down.”


Whitmer said the only reason abortion isn’t illegal in Michigan now is because of her legal challenge that secured an injunction against a 1931 law criminalizing abortion that would have taken effect when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.

Dixon, who favors the law, claimed a constitutional amendment on the ballot means the governor has no impact on abortion rights, a stance Whitmer ridiculed as dishonest.

Defund the police

Dixon: “It must be so embarrassing for the governor that it's actually on tape that she said she supports the spirit of defund the police. That's the truth."

Whitmer: “If you look at my record, I have funded the police over and over again.”

2020 election

Whitmer: “This is a candidate who still denies the outcome of the 2020 election. This is a candidate who will not pledge to accept the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.”

Dixon, who after the election tweeted accused Democrats of “stealing” the election, did not respond to the accusation, noting instead that Whitmer vetoed a host of bills that would have provided support for adoption.

Guns and schools

The two sparred over how best to keep children safe in schools.

Dixon: Whitmer “wants to make your kids sitting ducks.”

Whitmer: Dixon is “too dangerous and too out of touch to be trusted with protecting our kids.”

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