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Bennet vs. Buck Debate

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6:32 - Senator Bennet first - saying thank you to our troops. Now talking about the rough economy with middle income costs increasing but income has not. Next talking about 13 trillion dollars in debt with nothing to show for it. How we have not invested in our infrastructure.

6:35 - Ken Buck second - saying that he has been all over Colorado listening. Talking about the concerns people have for jobs and making ends meet. Next talking about the deficit, both the total and the yearly deficit. Says the deficit has hurt jobs by "spending money we don't have on programs we don't need." Pinging Bennet saying he spends weekdays voting for deficit spending in D.C. and weekends in Colorado talking against deficit spending. Proposing a balanced budget amendment. And giving small business certainty as to what costs they will face.

Much louder cheers for Ken Buck - don't know if that's the region or if Buck packed the audience.

6:39 - Asked if negative advertising works. Senator Bennet says that taxes have been reduced for most and he runs ads on that setting the record straight. Got a large boo for that. Senator Bennet then said that yes we all have our own opinions but the facts are the facts - got a good round of applause for that. Then ended it with the tax cut for small business.

The moderator just spanked the audience for yelling "shut up." Well done.

Ken Buck talking about Bennet's ads being called false. And says when false ads are run, then the record needs to be set straight. He then added that fair comparison ads are a good thing to have.

Senator Bennet said that other's say his ads are fair. He then brings up Ken Buck quotes to eliminate the Dept. of Education and his comments about some education programs. Ken Buck responded asking Senator Bennet to have the complete recordings the Bennet campaign has to the news media because they are taking his words out of context. This discussion got a bit pissy between them.

6:45 - Asking which is more important, undoing the tax cuts or continuing them to help the economy. Ken Buck replied first saying that lower taxes will increase revenue. (Yeah right - and if we take them to 0 then we'll have infinite income.) Next bringing up the high overhead of some taxes (very good point).

Senator Bennet - starts off saying we have to be honest and that taxes are lower than ever before. Next talking about how we're borrowing like crazy while cutting takes and not covering our expenses.

6:48 - What issues will be most important to independent voters. Senator Bennet replied that it's the economy and the fiscal position of the economy. Next talking about how he has voted more with the Republican party than almost any other Democrat in Congress.

Ken Buck starts with jobs saying it is very important for everyone. Next to bring energy jobs back to Colorado, but to do it in an environmentally sensitive way. Third he brings up education and saying that it is best handled in a bottom up manner rather than top down from D.C.

Senator Bennet responding saying that he agrees with Ken Buck on this issue, on jobs, on energy, and on education. Ken Buck comes back thanking Senator Bennet for agreeing with him, but then pings him on some of his votes that have hurt those specific issues, dragging immigration into this.

6:54 - What should victory in Afghanistan look like? Senator Bennet starts off saying the most important job in the Senate is to support our troops both in action and when they return. He then said what matters is to take out Al Qaeda, backstop the Pakistan military fighting the terrorists, and backstop the Pakistan military securing their nuclear weapons. And that is where the mission ends - no nation building.

Ken Buck - first mentions his son at West Point. First insure Afghanistan is not a haven for terrorists. Second we have to eliminate the drug trade there. Third we need to eliminate terror support in Southeast Asia. He then concluded agreeing with Senator Bennet that nation building is impossible there.

6:57 - the DREAM Act. Ken Buck says he will vote against the DREAM Act. He then says that we do need a way for children who grew up here to go to school. But he wants it to not allow anyone who committed a serious crime, and that they first have to perform some service such as serving in the military. He concludes by saying he wants it to be earned.

Senator Bennet - starts by saying that he's a co-sponsor. Talks about how his mom's side came here from Europe and how much America means to them. He is speaking beautifully about what America is and what it means and how important that is. Beautiful words. And how awful it is for a child who graduates from High School who cannot go on to College.

7:02 - What to do about entitlements. Senator Bennet starts off by saying that this is the key question - that 55% of our spending is entitlements and debt. And we need to reduce medical spending, paying on outcomes rather than on effort (superb point). Then says that the government is on auto-pilot and that we need to sit down to figure this out.

Ken Buck - starting by saying we have made a sacred promise to our seniors and we need to hold to that. Wants to look at the middle group (I think he means middle age) and bring in things like adjusting the retirement age, means testing, etc. He also wants to give workers incentives to save for their retirement. And this additional income supplements social security.

Asking Senator Bennet for specific reforms. Senator Bennet first says he does not support the privatization of social security. Next talking about the 20% hospital readmission rate and how it is nuts because the hospital keeps getting paid - for doing a lousy job. Said there are many other examples.

7:08 - What does the tea party affiliation means? Ken Buck lists several groups and says that in whole that they are the grass roots. And he sees what is key to that is he has admitted that the Republicans are as much to blame for our problems as the Democrats. That both have raided the treasury for their friends. (This is the message that I think will win the race for Ken Buck.)

Senator Bennet asked about being called "Obama's chosen one." Senator Bennet first talking about some of his disagreements with President Obama. Senator Bennet next talking about outside groups running ads for Ken Buck that are from very extreme conservatives.

7:12 - Ask about campaign financing. Senator Bennet talks about how it's horrible, that allowing companies to dump unlimited dollars, and that the 527s don't have to list who donates to them. From this he shifted into our exporting, and how we invented solar panels but China is now the leading exporter of them. He brought it back by saying that the special interests get the system rigged for them individually even if it harms the country.

Ken Buck says he thinks we should have complete and immediate disclosure of who is donating to every group. He called out union donations in particular. He then brought up The Blueprint (great book) and how it created shadowy groups that brought about the Democratic wins in Colorado.

Senator Bennet started off by saying that he thinks trackers are fine. He next agreed with Ken Buck on transparency and that he would love to find who is funding the 5 groups pounding Senator Bennet.

7:17 - Asked about stem cell research. Ken Buck starts off saying that he is pro-life and therefore opposed to embryonic stem cell research, but is fine with adult stem cell research. On Supreme Court justices, he will not treat abortion as a litmus test, that he wants justices who will interpret the law, not make it.

Senator Bennet starts off saying he is pro-choice and does a great job saying that he does not want the government telling his daughters what they can do with their bodies - very emotional. He then added that he strongly supports embryonic stem cell research because from that we can cure diseases. He then spoke that he understands that people will disagree with this.

7:20 - DADT? Senator says he thinks we should repeal DADT. He followed on with there is no way our country benefits from denying some people the right to be true to themselves.

Ken Buck wants to retain DADT. He says he is fine with gay people serving, but that they cannot be open about it. That the military is better served by appearing homogeneous. (This makes no sense.)

7:22 - Will you lose your seat over healthcare? Senator Bennet replied that yes, but yes if it was a good bill that addresses a lot of the serious problems we face. He then went through the problems we face where we spend twice as much as any other industrialized country - and that this need to be solved.

Ken Buck first said that Senator Bennet was asked that question when the Senate bill was up to be voted on. Ken Buck next said the thing most people were upset about was the corrupt process used to pass the bill where Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu got specifying pieces for their states. He then suggested giving individuals the same tax break corporations get and bring in tort reform.

7:27 - Ken Buck closing statement - Talking about how the people have kept telling Washington what they want addressed. That what the people said was heard in D.C., but that it was then ignored. Very passionate list of the issues where the people have been ignored.

Senator Bennet - he wants to create a competitive economy and give our children a better place than we have. He then brought up specific case of a woman who told him that if we just worked together we can do anything, and she's right. That with all of us we can continue to build the American dream. (This was a surprisingly weak closing.)

Now we have everyone in the audience shouting out for their candidate. Senator Bennet & Ken Buck shake hands. And we're done.

My $0.02

I think this was a really good debate - substantive questions and both candidates gave specific answers. And quite a bit of ground was covered in the hour. The moderator did a superb job of apportioning time and controlling the crowd. So lots of good info about the differences between the two.

Senator Bennet's strong and weak point is that he dives into the details. This reflects well on him that he can call up supporting facts and he shows a clear understanding of the issues. It's a weak point in that he tries to make a nuanced intellectual argument supporting his candidacy rather than an easily understood simplistic answer which would sell a lot better.

Ken Buck's strong point is he does a better job of making an emotional compelling argument for his candidacy. His weak point is that he's a conservative!!! No wait, that's not fair - it's that AARGH yes that is it.

The bottom line is they're both quality candidates. They differ strongly on most social issues. They're closer on economic issues, but they're still substantial differences (especially if you measure Senator Bennet by his votes, not his campaigning). They're both focused on the economy and each thinks what they propose is our best way out of this mess. I think this makes for a great election as it gives us a clear choice (and you should pick the Democrat!!!)