PROVO -- It was a little surprising to see one of the most conservative men in Washington in agreement with the progressive upstart challenging him for his U.S. Senate seat.
During a debate at Brigham Young University on Wednesday night, incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Lee agreed with Democratic challenger Misty Snow that student loans are too expensive. They agreed that marijuana legislation needs a second look. They agreed that Muslims should not be banned from entering the United States. They both agreed they aren't voting for Donald Trump.
"I thought it was a good debate. We had a very nice discussion of a whole lot of issues and you're absolutely right, we identified some areas where there was ideological overlap," Lee told reporters afterward.
But when they disagreed, there were some feisty exchanges.
The first came in a discussion about religious liberties and LGBTQ rights. Lee discussed his First Amendment Defense Act, which Snow said "legalizes discrimination in the name of religion." He defended the rights of people to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. She said people should be treated equally.
Snow also blasted Lee for his role in the 2013 government shutdown.
"Obama shut down the government," he tersely replied.
"I don't think it's all Obama's fault," she countered.
When it came to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, Snow also called it "shameful" that Lee and his colleagues in the Senate would not hold a vote to confirm him. He replied that the Senate was exercising its prerogative.
"The Senate has chosen to exercise its power," he said, adding that he believed Garland would vote with the far-left elements of the Court.
Lee is running for his second term in office. Snow, who works as a grocery store clerk, rode a wave of support for Bernie Sanders to win the Democratic nomination. She proudly states if elected, she'd be the first Millennial in congress. She is also the first transgender woman to be a major party nominee for Senate, but did not bring that up in the debate.
"I try not to make this about me. I'm not running to make this about me. I'm running to raise issues affecting people across this nation," she told FOX 13 afterward.
Wednesday night's debate was the only one scheduled between the two. Polls show Lee with a significant lead over Snow.
"I'm not taking anything for granted," he told reporters.
Recently, Lee has traveled out of state to help other Republican senators get re-elected. Meeting with reporters afterward, Snow acknowledged her long shot bid, and said she would consider it a victory if she got above 33 percent of the vote on Election Day. Snow said she is offering a more progressive platform than previous Democrats whom she referred to as "Republican lite."
"If we run as true Democrats and offer a real alternative, it will actually generate excitement among our own base and increase turnout," she said.
Watch the debate here: