At the GOP Congressional debate, Mark Wichern challenged Rep. Matt Gaetz on his voting record.
“I find it odd that Mr. Gaetz next to me is mentioning education when he’s one of the guys that voted for Obamacare and then turned around and renamed Obamacare so you guys wouldn’t know what it actually was, and called it Florida Standards,” said Wichen.
Gaetz said that he has led the fight against Common Core in the Florida Legislature and jabbed Wichern for confusing Obamacare with Common Core.
“I sponsored and passed legislation to allow every school district in Florida to opt out of Common Core textbooks,” said Gaetz. “The only one here who’s actually taken the fight to Common Core, but high standards developed locally and administered are important if for no other reason than they can tell us there is a difference between Obamacare and Common Core.”
Undeterred Wichern asked, “How can you be for an education system when you voted for Common Core?
He said, “You’re the one that brought it to our children. This is damning our children for the next generation. You brought it to Florida and covered it up by calling it another name.”
Gaetz replied, “Listen, Mark, I know you’re an ambitious guy, and this is an additional time you’ve run for congress, but your ambition can’t outpace your ability to tell the truth.”
He said, “The truth is that the Federal Department of Education has had a variety of programs with all kinds of different names—Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, Common Core. I am the first candidate in this campaign to come out and advocate for the complete abolition of the Federal Department of Education to return standards back to the state of Florida.
Wichern said that he advocated to abolish DOE when he ran for Congress in 2014.
“Mark, was that two years ago when you weren’t a Republican and you were running under a different banner?” asked Gaetz.
“Oh, that’s a good one,” said Wichern. “Hey, you know what? Two weeks before the primary…I’m sorry I couldn’t run as a Republican. I ran as an Independent.”
Gaetz said, “We’re glad you’re a Republican now, but we’d just like you to be a Republican that tells the truth.”
Wichern replied, “I’ll tell you what, the bills that you voted for are listed one the bottom of my card. Maybe the audience ought to go ahead and look it up and see what you’ve actually voted for.”
Gaetz bounced back, “I am glad you’ve taken such an interest in my record. The Tampa Bay Times, no friend to Conservatives, says I have the most Conservative record in the Florida legislature. They saw it as an insult. I wear it as a badge of honor.”