Tea Party Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and businessman Neel Kashkari faced off on Los Angeles radio station KFI. The debate in front of a live audience started off cordially, with both men sticking to their stump speeches. But before too long Kashkari went after Donnelly, who first drew attention for patrolling the US Mexico border with his Minuteman chapter.
“In the last few months you’ve managed to denigrate Latinos, African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus,” Kashkari said. “And if we are shrinking our party we are not going to win another election, period.”
Donnelly has shown a large lead over Kashkari in recent polls. That’s prompted numerous prominent Republicans to come out in opposition to Donnelly, often saying he will divide the party. Donnelly dismissed the implication he’s racist.
“They only attack you when you’re the front runner and you’re a threat,” Donnelly said. “And the only colors that matter to me are red, white and blue. Because those are the colors of freedom!”
A Kashkari supporter questioned Donnelly on why he linked Kashkari to Islamic Sharia law. Donnelly responded that Kashkari had spoken at a government conference called Islamic Finance 101.
“Some of the speakers where there to present on making the Treasury- or suggesting, how they can be compliant with Sharia,” Donnelly said. “Given how barbaric Sharia is, why would we want to be compliant to anything with Sharia.”
Kashkari, who is Hindu, countered it’s in the government’s interest to learn about many different financial systems.
At one point Donnelly asked Kashkari why he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 rather than GOP Senator John McCain. Kashkari defended his choice.
“I worked for President George W. Bush. We were tackling the worst economic crisis our nation has faced since the Great Depression,” he said. “And we actually met with both candidates. And, I gotta tell you something, John McCain had no idea what was going on in the financial crisis.”
Kashkari and Donnelly are both hoping to finish second to Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in the June primary and advance to the November run-off. Brown holds a wide lead in the polls.