Candidates for Colorado's 4th Congressional District exchanged blows Tuesday night in what will likely be the only debate of the campaign. Other debates were cancelled because incumbent Congresswoman Betsy Markey refused to debate Republican opponent Cory Gardner unless the other two minor party candidates, Independent Ken Waszkiewicz and the American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden, were included.
The debate Tuesday included all four candidates but centered on Markey and Gardner. Both took shots at each other but neither offered much beyond standard talking points in regard to their stances on issues.
Gardner attacked Markey's voting record and Washington spending. Markey called out a new ad launched by Gardner that incorrectly states she voted for Obama's 2010 budget.
"I voted against the budget because I thought it was too big. So my question to Cory Gardner is was this just a careless mistake, because carelessness can lead to recklessness, or was this deliberate? In which case that goes to can we trust you," Markey said. The moderator and the rules of the debate didn't allow Gardner to answer.
"I would have liked to hear him answer that question and whether or not he would take the ad down," said Markey, after the debate.
Gardner's Communications Director Rachel Boxer stood behind the rest of the ad and said Markey could "use this to change the subject all she wants."
The Gardner campaign has provided at least one Denver TV station a revised version of the ad that removed the part in question.
Throughout the evening Gardner pushed for "smaller government, less regulation, more tax cuts," and threw out a few one-liners, "In Washington they seem to have an answer to everything, don't just stand there spend something," he said.
In his opening statements Gardner said he would win the seat not just by pointing out what's wrong with this country but by "running on solutions," to hear about these solutions he pointed everyone to his website's, 2010 Plan: Real Solutions for America.
Markey presented herself as an independent who makes decisions based on the will of her district, "I don't represent a political ideology, I represent the people of the 4th Congressional District." She also touted her small business experience, her NRA endorsement, her healthcare vote and some of her votes that strayed from party lines, like Obama's 2010 budget.
The room of a couple hundred was divided pretty evenly into supporters of the two major candidates.
Prior to the debate Markey and Gardner's supporters faced off outside, chanting their candidate's names, hoisting signs and showing off their general enthusiasm for the coming election.
The debate took place at the La Quinta Inn in Loveland, Colo. and airs tonight at 9 p.m. on Northern Colo. 5.