BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In an hour-long debate Wednesday, the candidates for California’s 20th Congressional District – Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Democratic challenger Marisa Wood – squared off over the most hot-button issues this November with no shortage of personal jabs.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy is arguably the closest he has ever been to the job he has long coveted — Speaker of the House. For Marisa Wood, she is taking her first step into politics hoping to take down a political powerhouse.

With less than two weeks before the November midterm election, McCarthy and Wood verbally sparred at KGET getting personal for a one-hour debate.

“I say be the one, be the one to stand up to the bully and now I’m being called to do just that,” Wood said of her candidacy Wednesday night.

“The real challenge is, I’ve never faced someone so liberal before in this campaign,” McCarthy said.

“I’m sorry, were you referring to me?” Wood asked. “Yes, ma’am.” McCarthy responded back.

The two clashed over some of the biggest partisan issues like immigration.

“Number one top priority making sure that the criminals do not come across but we cannot stop the immigrants that are coming here to work, that are coming for asylum,” Wood said.

“I don’t think [Wood] understands the border,” McCarthy responded. “People that come for asylum, you had more than 3 million people just in the last year. You’ve got fentanyl the number 1 killer of Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.”

The Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol also took center stage.

“What people see in you is that you were standing on the floor and you held him responsible and then you go and you kiss the ring,” Wood said of McCarthy’s response to the attack.

Wood was referencing House Minority Leader McCarthy visiting the former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in late January 2021 after McCarthy said Trump bore some responsibility for Jan. 6 on the House floor a week after the attack.

“I was invited to Mar-A-Lago to see the President by the President,” McCarthy said. “I was already in Palm Beach so I stopped by to see him. He asked to take a photo. I don’t understand. I was just in the Oval Office a couple of weeks ago with President Biden.”

McCarthy did not directly answer whether he believes the 2020 election was “stolen” in an exchange with KSEE24 anchor Alexan Balekian.

MCCARTHY: “Look there are a lot of questions out there, Joe Biden was elected our President and because of that and one party rule we now have the highest inflation in 40 years.”
ALEXAN BALEKIAN: “But did you ever once believe the election was stolen?”
MCCARTHY: “When I look at the election, I think people have a lot of questions, they have the right to question but Joe Biden was elected our President.”

It was a lively debate with days to go until the Nov. 8 midterm election.