CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Republican candidates vying to take a seat on the U.S. Senate squared off in debate on Tuesday, March 27.

Topics ranged from the national to local level with one specifically touching on Charlottesville and the events of last summer.

Corey Stewart, Nick Freitas, and E.W. Jackson came to the debate to discuss everything from student loans, immigration, and opioid abuse in Virginia. But the topic that hit home was the events of August 11 and 12.

Not too far from where dozens of white nationalists marched at the University of Virginia on August 11, a conversation about how to protect First Amendment rights took place right inside Garrett Hall Tuesday evening.

“We need to make sure that when they show up to protest or say whatever they are going to say, whenever they drag 300 people out of their mother’s basement to come and advocate for Nazism, we show up and let them know that this is not the sort of thing that will ever prevail in this country,” says Freitas.

On Tuesday, Republican Senate candidates weighed in on how they can work to protect the freedom of speech while also preventing hate speech.

"I think we have got to come together and be committed to fulfilling the vision that we all say we put our hands over our hearts - that we really want to be one nation under God,” says Jackson.

Stewart believes that both sides need to share the blame for the violent events that transpired back in August.

“You do not have to turn to violence to express yourself, you should never do that, but it was two sides and President Trump was absolutely right in saying so, it wasn't just the "right," it wasn't just the neo-Nazis," says Stewart.

The two sides clashed again when Richard Spencer and white nationalists gathered at Emancipation Park in October. The chain of protests began after City Council voted to remove the Robert E. Lee monument that sits in Emancipation Park.

In his closing statement, Jackson talked about the history that surrounds the city’s Confederate monuments.

“We ought to honor and celebrate our country because this is the country where a son of slaves can run for the United States Senate,” says Jackson.

Stewart also touched on another hot topic of Second Amendment rights.

“It’s there to remind the government that they cannot suppress the people,” says Stewart.

During his time to speak, Freitas touched on more young people turning to socialism.

"I reject that,” says Freitas. “I believe you have intrinsic value, I believe the government needs to protect it so you can go out and live your life the way you want and that is the beauty and the promise of this country."

Tuesday night’s debate was hosted by the Frank Batten School, College Republicans at UVA, and the UVA Center for Effective Lawmaking.

Three other Republicans running for Senate - Minerva Diaz, Bert Mizusawa, and Ivan Raiklin - were not present at Tuesday's debate.