Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) debate the issues in WHYY’s Wilmington studios. Debate will be broadcast on channel 12 at 7 PM tonight.
8:56 AM – Closing statements, Coons goes first. “There is a clear and real difference between my opponent and me.” “What Delaware needs and deserves is a U.S. Senator who has real, hands-on experience.” Fixing our economy is Delaware’s most pressing issue. He says ideas matter, and he’s published detailed plans on his website. O’Donnell says she’s running because she’s concerned about the direction of our country. “I want to go Washington and represent the people of Delaware.” She says U.S. will soon be spending $1-billion a day on the interest on the national debt. She says doing nothing is not a solution. “I have enough experience to know how Washington works, and I have enough real experience to know how it should work.”
8:53 AM – Random questions picked from bowl: to Coons tell us something that people don’t know about you? “I love ice skating with my daughter.” O’Donnell says everybody knows more than they want to know about me. Question to Coons: how would your best friend describe you? As a loving husband and father, and someone who has taken very seriously the responsibility of public service, and someone who has a good sense of humor. Question to O’Donnell: Can you name one elected official who you would emulate if elected? She says Governor DuPont. The people of Delaware were first when he was Governor. He knows how to balance a budget not based on raising taxes, but by putting money back into the economy.
8:50 AM – Raising the retirement age on Social Security? O’Donnell says we’ve got to do whatever we can to keep our promise to the people who have been paying into Social Security. Any and all options need to be on the table. Raising the retirement age should be considered, but those who are near retirement now would be grandfathered under previous retirement age. Coons says Social Security fund is solvent for 30 more years, and it’s fear-mongering to say that immediate changes have to be made. Solution should be done over a number of years. He would not vote to raise the retirement age. He says it’s important to look at the record of Democrats in Washington in supporting the needs of seniors who are not getting a cost of living increase this year.
8:47 AM – Do you support the DREAM Act? Coons says he would support policy that strengthens border protection, and holding employers accountable to make sure their workers are legal. He would enforce immigration laws more aggressively at the local level, and provide path to legal residency for those who have come here illegally. O’Donnell say before doing anything on immigration, we’ve got to secure the border by whatever means necessary: troops, a real fence, a virtual fence. “It’s becoming a national security issue.”
8:46 AM – Coons says 30 year, honorable servant of Delaware lost the primary because he was willing to compromise. O’Donnell says Castle’s vulnerability was on the issue of cap-and-trade.
8:41 AM – Willing to work across the aisle? O’Donnell says she’s already fought, and is still fighting, her own party. She says her campaign is putting political process back in the hands of the people. “I want to go to Washington and do what you’d do.” She says the people would not have voted for the bailout or the government takeover of GM. Coons says he has record of working in bipartisan ways to pass balance budget. He says she wants to be a voice for Delaware, but if anybody’s going to be a pet of anybody, it’s going to be O’Donnell who has taken money from around the country and has support from SC Senator Jim DeMint who has said he wants to “shut the Senate down.”
8:35 AM – Wind farm effort, do you support? Coons says he supports “exciting” effort, and supports alternative energy marketplace. O’Donnell says she’s doesn’t want to see a wind farm or oil rigs off the coast of Delaware, but says that’s a decision for Markell administration, not federal government. She says government should not be propping up sources of alternative energy that would not survive in the open market. Coons says he disagrees with President Obama’s stance on oil drilling off Delaware’s coast. He says it’s not worth the risk. He says he’s talked to Senator Carper and President Obama about his disagreement. O’Donnell says she doesn’t want drilling off the coast of Delaware, but she says the state has the right to do so under the 10th Amendment. O’Donnell says Coons says one thing on the campaign trail and doing something other once in office. Coons says it is flat out untrue. He says he’s had to deal with “endless repetition of groundless personal attacks. I mean, of course I have never done these things.”
8:30 AM – Doctor shortage question: What would you do to shore up the availability of health care providers? O’Donnell says “Obama-care” puts greater burden on doctors, and will continue shortage. She says tort reform will help. She says “Obama-care” did address some real needs, but also cause a huge government take over of the health care system. Coons says health services corps in health care reform bill will help increase the number of providers especially in very rural areas of Sussex County and in western states.
8:29 AM – Coons says O’Donnell is very good at repeating things over and over that are not true.
8:25 AM – Health care question from citizen about what candidates would do if they did not have health insurance? Coons says he would rely on support from family and friends. He’s telling story of family friend who is going through cancer treatment without insurance. He says that’s why he supports health care reform bill passed earlier this year. O’Donnell says she pays all her health care expenses out of pocket. She says affordable health care must be made available to residents in Delaware, not just affordable health insurance. “We are not keeping our promises to the most vulnerable in Delaware.”
8:20 AM – Should all education policy be left to the states? O’Donnell says she’s not in favor of No Child Left Behind or Race to the Top. She says “it’s appalling that good teachers have to buy resources out of their own pockets” while administrators make six figure salaries.” She says she supports giving parents control of where their education dollars go. Coons says Race to the Top is a good program. He says it supports charters and choice, and challenges states to connect teacher performance and pay with student performance in the classroom. He says there is a critical federal role in education in leadership and funding. Coons says classroom teachers are not included enough in Race to the Top. He commends Markell administration for scrapping DSTP tests. O’Donnell says problem with race to the top ignores dialogue with teachers. She says Coons will “rubber stamp” Obama-Reid proposals. She says Race to the Top is “throwing money at a broken system.”
8:15 AM – State’s rights question: Is the federal government upholding the 10th amendment? Coons says fed. govt. is empowered to engage in the activities that it is currently engaged in, including unemployment insurance and health care. O’Donnell says Constitution should be litmus test for all votes. She says Coons could not name five freedoms in 1st amendment in yesterday’s WDEL debate. She says health care reform bill passed earlier this year is not in the Constitution. “We no longer view this sacred document” the way we once did. That is not what the founding fathers intended. Coons says O’Donnell thinks federal government should be limited to the enumerated powers detailed in the Constitution. “Delaware voters deserve to know how much of the federal government she will dismantle” if elected. O’Donnell says limiting federal government is a great thing. “It’s invaded our daily lives.” “It’s controlling everything from what kind of band-aid you put on your kid’s knee to what kind of bread you can put on your table.”
8:10 AM – Second question: Foreclosure crisis, paperwork approved without review, what should government do to help? O’Donnell says opposes requirement for down payment, says loans should be fair, and that residents may be able to pay loan payments, but not able to make big down payment. Coons says he supports efforts of Del. AG Beau Biden enforcing the rules. Coons exploring the idea of foreclosure moratorium for one month. He says, “We need to show compassion” to families facing foreclosure. O’Donnell agrees with Coons (!) on need for moratorium. She says nation needs “real economic policies” to get country back on track. She says death tax should be eliminated.
8 AM – Coons wins coin toss and will get the first question, which will come from a citizen in Pike Creek: “Why do you think so many jobs were lost over the last few years, what is the government’s role in bringing jobs back?” Coons says the reason for job loss: collapse of housing market, then other sectors. Long-term losses were in manufacturing, government should fight for competitiveness in trade policy and improve training and education. O’Donnell blames collapse on politicians who have lost their way, uncontrolled spending. She says unemployment rate has soared under Coons’ administration. She says govt. needs to get out of the way of small businesses owners. In follow up, Coons says he supports extension of Bush tax cuts. Coons says lack of oversight, not just reckless spending caused economic collapse. O’Donnell says Coons promised not to raise NCCo taxes, but broke that promise.