LIVE BLOG: Coons, O’Donnell debate in Wilmington

    Live quotes and observations from the second Coons vs. O’Donnell debate in less than 24 hours.

    A lighter moment from today’s debate at the Wilmington Rotary Club meeting at the Hotel DuPont.  The candidates were asked, in the spirit of the much vaunted “Delaware Way”, what do you admire and respect about your opponent?


    1:25 – Coons closing statement – “There is a real and clear difference between  my opponent and me.”  He says O’Donnell is good at delivering slogans, but not on delivering solutions.  He says Delaware needs a Senator who has experience solving real world problems.  “What matters is what you decide.”

    1:22 – O’Donnell’s closing statement – Repeats W.L. Gore accusations that the company would make big bucks from cap and trade, that’s why he says air quality is the number one environmental priority.  She says tax increases will be voted on during lame session in which the winner will take part.  “We are for tax breaks that will help spur the economy.”  Says Coons will “rubber stamp” policies that have led to massive unemployment.  “What Washington needs is new voices and new ideas.”

    1:19 – Member question for Coons:  “The Delaware Way” question- what qualities do you respect and admire in your opponent?  Coons says O’Donnell has shown remarkable persistence, he respects her passion.  O’Donnell points out that Coons didn’t use his full two minutes.  She says she appreciates his ability to debate, his ability to stand up on the issues.  She says she haven’t taken out a negative ad, and asks that the negative ads against her to be stopped.

    1:14 Member question for O’Donnell:  How would you attack the deficit?  She says she would tackle waste, fraud and abuse.  Cites $100-billion in Medicare wasteful spending on things like patients who are dead.  She says there is a lot of redundancy in government spending.  She would cancel the unspent stimulus money.  She says we need to work together to make sure we can keep our promises to seniors when looking at reforming Social Security.  Coons says this is a difficult, complex question that needs to be addressed in a bi-partisan way.  He says the solution is not as simple as cutting waste, fraud and abuse.  He cites bipartisan commission that is currently working on solutions.  He says, “We do need to reduce defense spending.”

    1:11 – Coons asks O’Donnell about Constitutionality of Roe v. Wade.  She says, she supports overturning Roe v. Wade because it violates the 10th Amendment.  She says overturning it would not make abortion illegal, it would instead let the state’s decide.  She says life begins at conception.

    1:08 – O’Donnell questions Coons: She asks about his support for President Obama’s random time withdrawal from Afghanistan, she calls it an “irresponsible policy.”  Coons says real threat is reemergence of terror group capable of attacking the U.S.  Coons says a small force with good intelligence is enough to counter reemergence of an Al-Queda-type group.  “We are asking our men and women to risk their lives in a war with no end in sight.”

    1:05  – Member question for O’Donnell: What is the biggest environmental challenge facing Delaware in the next decade?  Regulatory reform, she says.  She says farmers who want to put solar power on their farms would have to be taxed the same rate as a govt. backed utility company if they did that.  She calls for “market-based” solution to finding alternative sources of energy.  Coons responds: Air quality.  “We need to impose tougher restrictions on pollution around the country.”

    1:03 – O’Donnell says she wants to establish a veterans voucher system to put vets in charge of their own health care.  She says vets have told her they have to come to Elsmere just for a regular check up, instead of being able to get care locally.  She says that’s created a backlog at the VA hospital.

    1:01 – Question from club member:  What two bills other than health care and taxes would you pass?  Coons says there are improvements needed to Wall Street reform bill.  He says the bill puts at risk some financial services business in Delaware.  He says implementation of Dodd-Frank could limit access to credit for not just businesses, but also residents.  2nd: Improving science and math and technology education.

    12:57 – O’Donnell asks Coons about W.L. Gore benefiting from cap and trade program.  Now transitions to question about Coons NCCo budget cuts and accuses him of creating “slush funds.”  Coons says he’ll assume she means to ask “Is he a fiscal conservative?”  He says he chose to address financial challenges in NCCo by meeting with civic groups and others during a “listening tour.”  He says when economy collapsed, I ultimately came up with a solution where spending cuts were made in a way that preserves the core services for the community.

    12:54 – Coons asks O’Donnell 1st question:  Citing O’Donnell’s statements that she wants to roll back the federal role in education, and has been critical of education, Coons asks, “Do you support eliminating the Dept. of Education?”  O’Donnell reiterates that she doesn’t want to eliminate the Dept. of Ed.  She says throwing money at a broken system doesn’t fix it.  She says superintendents get six figure salaries while teachers know better what the students need.  She says she supports charters schools and vouchers.

    12:50 – O’Donnell’s opening statement: “I’m running because I’m concerned about the direction our country is going.”  Accuses Coons of being a “rubber stamp” for spending bills.  “Uncle Sam needs to be cut-off.”  “I want to go to Washington to help 0ur nation become debt free… to stop the tax hikes that are coming in January.”  Vows to protect “Constitutional liberties.”  “A vote for my opponent will cost the average Delaware family $10,000.”

    12:46 – Coons gets first opening statement.  “There is a great deal at stake in this election.”  “There is much about Washington that is broken.”  Says O’Donnell “values partisan bickering over bridging the partisan divide.”  Coons says he has a proven track record.

    12:42 – Forum rules:  8 questions total.  Coons asks O’Donnell 2 questions, O’Donnell asks Coons 2 questions.  4 questions come from Rotary members.

    12:40 – Coons and O’Donnell eating at the same table.  Must be an interesting lunch conversation.

    12:31 – On her way into the lunchtime forum at the Hotel DuPont, Christine O’Donnell (R) told WHYY that she was happy with the way last night’s debate at the University of Delaware went, and hinted that she may once again go on the offensive again during their debate today before members of Wilmington’s Rotary Club.  “I think it went great, I think we called out my opponent on a lot of things that he’s done inconsistently as county executive, and he just dodged and weaved and didn’t address any of the charges of corruption that I brought up.  So, hopefully the Delaware voters will get to see what he’s really made of.”

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.