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Missouri Senate Candidates Face Off in KC


Kansas City, MO – Click here to listen to the entire debate.

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan took the offensive in yesterday's debate against Congressman Roy Blunt, organized by KCPT. The exchange was the only televised debate in one of the country's more competitive senate races.

The latest polls show Republican Congressman Roy Blunt beating Democrat Robin Carnahan, 53 to 40. That may be why Carnahan came out swinging, trying to portray Blunt as a Washington insider.

"It's hard to explain how he's been there for 14 years," Carnahan said. "Think about what's happened during that time: our economy got wrecked, Wall Street got bailed out, we got stuck with the bill."

But Blunt said it's the Obama administration's failed economic policies that voters are the most concerned about in Missouri.

"What I see is a state where the voters are more engaged in the issues than I've ever seen them before," Blunt said, "starting with where are the private sector jobs, and why's the federal government spending so much more money than it's ever spent before?"

Health Care Legislation
Blunt said Missouri's popular vote against recent health care legislation showed overwhelming disapproval for the Democratic agenda.

"This bill spends 250 billion dollars a year by the time you're really start spending money and we can't afford it, we just simply can't afford," Blunt said.

He ticked off possible alternatives to the health care plan: like medical liability reforms, expanding high risk pools, and allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.

Carnahan asked why he hadn't proposed them when he was in the majority in the House.

"I think if you want to repeal health care reform and let insurance companies go back to their worst abuses, Congressman, than you ought to repeal your own first, and man up, and do what you're asking other people to do," Carnahan said.

The candidates flatly contradicted each other several times during the debate , particularly on the issues of social security and Medicare, which both said they'd protect.

"You've also said over and over again that you thought Medicare shouldn't have been created in the first place," Carnahan. Blunt denied he'd ever said that.

"What we could look at is more choices for people in Medicare, more access to people to a private system that they'd have more choices in. I think we ought to be looking at how we could be more innovative with medicare and other programs," Blunt said.

On the subject of earmarks, which are a kind of federal spending that are not voted on directly, Carnahan said, "It's a waste of our money, it's a corrupted process, and all too often you have folks like Congressman Blunt using that process to reward campaign contributors and special interests."

Blunt said earmarks are an essential tool for funding local projects like highways and bridges.

"If you don't compete, you don't get the money," Blunt said.

Carnahan repeatedly accused Blunt of taking campaign donations from lobbyists. Blunt mentioned Carnahan's brother, who recently received about 100 million dollars in stimulus funds for his wind farm in Northwest Missouri.

There are a few subjects on which Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt agree, for example, they both believe in climate change, and generally support the war in Afghanistan.

The two candidates will face off just one more time before the election next month - that's this morning in Lake of the Ozarks at a forum sponsored by the Missouri Press Association (watch that debate live here). This debate includes third-party candidates: Jerry Beck of the Constitution Party and Jonathan Dine of the Libertarian Party.

This story was produced for KC Currents. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KC Currents Podcast.

Sylvia Maria Gross is storytelling editor at KCUR 89.3. Reach her on Twitter @pubradiosly.
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