Instant quotes and reactions from the Chris Coons (D) and Christine O’Donnell (R) debate from the University of Delaware in Newark.
8:57 PM – Coons closing statement. O’Donnell has experience running for office, but not running anything else. He says she’s good at slogans and increasing the political divide. “I offer you real ideas.”
8:55 PM – O’Donnell gets first crack at closing statements. She calls Coons a “career politician.” “He’s in lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid.” “What Washington needs now is new voices.” “I want to go to Washington to represent the people who put me on this stage tonight.” “America is the greatest force of good in this world.”
8:53 PM – Blitzer asks O’Donnell, “What were you thinking” when you started a commercial by saying “I am not a witch.” O’Donnell says she wanted to put it to rest.
8:50 PM – What would you do to end partisan bickering in Washington? O’Donnell says she would stand strong on legislation that benefits the interest of citizens, not the special interest. Coons says she hasn’t pointed to one example of supporting the President or Democratic ideas. He says he’s worked with Republicans in New Castle County to find solutions. Blitzer follows up with Harry Reid quote that Coons is his pet, “I’m nobody’s bet, I’m going to be a bulldog for Delaware.”
8:48 PM – Offshore oil drilling? O’Donnell says it should be up to the states to decide, not Congress. Coons says beaches should not be at risk of oil spills. He says alternative energy should get federal investment.
8:46 PM – O’Donnell questions whether Coons’ connection to W.L. Gore company would impact his vote on cap-and-trade legislation. Coons says it would not.
8:32 PM – Abortion: O’Donnell says there has been a loss of respect for life and human dignity. Coons says he supports a woman’s right to choose. Says abortion should be safe, legal and rare.
8:31 PM – Embryonic stem cell research: Coons says he supports it. O’Donnell says advances have been more in adult stem cell research.
8:29 PM – 1st student question: What’s your position on don’t ask, don’t tell? Coons says he would work to repeal it. O’Donnell says federal judge ruled that it should be overturned, but she says it should be up to the military. She says they already regulate personal behavior regarding adultery. Congress should not be forcing a social agenda on our military.
8:26 PM – Question to O’Donnell about China’s ambitions and her previous comments (’06) about sensitive information she wished she was not privy to. She says the threat from China is due in part because they hold so much of U.S. debt. She says the U.S. is not in an economic position to urge China to put pressure on Iran and North Korea. Coons keeps saying that it’s hard for him to respond to all of O’Donnell’s statements.
8:21 PM – Immigration Views. Coons says federal government has failed the states. He wants to strengthen the borders, hold employers accountable who repeatedly employ illegal workers. Also wants a path toward legal residence for illegal immigrants who pay a fine, and get in the back of the line behind others who are going through legal channels to immigrate. O’Donnell accuses him of “backtracking.” She says securing the border should be the first priority. “I support a legal pathway to those who are coming over here for legal immigrants.’ She says she doesn’t support amnesty. She says it sends the wrong message that it is okay to break the laws.
8:12 PM – Health care reform question to O’Donnell. You want to repeal it? She says health care insurance reform was needed, vulnerable are still left uninsured under “Obama-care.” She says reform has not lowered health care costs, she says she would fight to repeal it, in order to enact “real reform.” Coons says he supports the implementation of health care reform bill. She says bill is not perfect, but it can be improved instead of repealed. O’Donnell says, “Nobody should be forced to pay anybody else’s health care costs.” Coons replies that that was already happening when uninsured had to be cared for.
8:06 PM – Question to Coons: Are teachers unions too powerful? Answers that Delaware’s teachers union came to the table and cooperate with Governor Jack Markell’s administration on successful application for more than $100-million in Race to the Top education funding. “I have no problem with recognizing that the people who do the hard work, the teachers and para-professionals,” are entitled to make a good living. O’Donnell says Coons didn’t answer the question because he was endorsed by the teachers union. She says Delaware is not spending its education dollars appropriately. “We have a broken system. Throwing more money on a broken system is not going to work.” She doesn’t think the U.S. Dept. of Education should be done away with, but money should stop being misused.
8:04 PM – Question to Coons about his “bearded Marxist” comments. He answers that it was clear that it was a joke. My opponents have endlessly spun this. O’Donnell says, “I would stand to disagree.” She says Coons statement should send a “chill up the spine” of Delaware voters.
8:02 PM – Question to O’Donnell: Do you believe evolution is a myth? Answer: “Local schools should make that decision.” “What I believe is irrelevant.” Not allowing schools to teach creation as an equal theory is a violation of their rights.
7:58 PM – Question to O’Donnell about “dabbling in witchcraft” comments. O’Donnell: “This election cycle should be about what’s important to the people of Delaware.” “I have not welcomed this media attention, my priority has been getting in touch with Delaware voters.” She accuses Coons of using statement she’s made in the past against her even though he said he didn’t want to focus on past statements. Coons rebuttal points questions which Constitution she would go by O’Donnell. Coons says he would go by the Constitution and decided law.
7:55 PM – Foreign policy question on Afghanistan. Coons questions O’Donnell’s standards for getting out of Afghanistan and whether there would be no end in sight under O’Donnell’s ideas.
7:51 PM – Wolf Blitzer asking Coons about O’Donnell “Taxman” attack ad, which accuses Coons of bringing the county to the brink. Coons says the county has high bond ratings. O’Donnell accuses Coons of “cronyism.” Coons says he’s proud of his record, and that O’Donnell is not familiar with the way that bond ratings work.
7:48 PM – Follow up to O’Donnell about her personal financial troubles. “I know how hard it is to earn and keep a dollar.” “I can relate to the thousand of Delaware families that are struggling right now.” Coons says the focus of the debate should not be on personal finances, but on the issues in front of Delaware. O’Donnell jokes that Coons was just jealous that he was not the subject of Saturday Night Live skits.
7:44 PM – Question 2 goes to O’Donnell: “What specific, meaningful cuts would you make to reduce debt?” Answer from O’Donnell: don’t spend what’s left of stimulus money, hiring freeze on non-security personnel, cut down on waste, fraud and abuse. Accuses Coons of paying out “special favors” to interest groups. Coons says there’s so much to respond to a minute may not be long enough. Coons calls for streamlining of military spending and other cuts.
7:43 PM – Coons tells O’Donnell, “We are going to try to have a conversation here tonight and not a diatribe.” He says she’s been misrepresenting his record during the campaign.
7:41 PM – Coons warns that O’Donnell’s numbers on unemployment in NCCo may not be accurate. He says her numbers may have to be checked throughout tonight. Fairly heated during first “cross-fire” portion.
7:39 PM – O’Donnell challenges Coons record on jobs in NCCo. Again accuses him of being a “rubber stamp.”
7:37 PM – 1st question goes to Coons. Why should voters trust Democrats to create jobs after steady unemployment over the past two years. Coons says, “I think they should trust ‘this Democrat.'”
7:33 PM – Coons warns of O’Donnell’s “extreme positions” in his opening statement. Also says debate is a chance for voters to see who has the “experience” to lead. O’Donnell says Coons would be “rubber stamp” in Congress in her opening statement. Looks like the gloves are coming off early.
7:25 PM – Crowd cheers both candidates onto the stage. Getting microphones, stage, etc. all set up. It’s almost time. There were big crowds outside Mitchell Hall, chanting, holding signs, and shouting at the other side. All quiet outside now. All eyes on the debate.