Schaffer, Udall square off |

Schaffer, Udall square off

Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

PARKER, Colorado ” Former Republican congressman Bob Schaffer and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall squared off Monday in the first debate in their race for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard, sparring over energy, the economy and Iraq.

Democrats see the race as one of their top national priorities, an opportunity to take away another seat from Republicans, who previously lost the state’s other Senate seat in 2004.

Udall blamed high energy prices on an over-reliance on drilling and said the nation needs to invest more in renewable energy. He also took shots at Schaffer’s record when he was in Congress, saying he voted to give billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies.

“I don’t think anybody thinks oil companies need additional tax breaks,” Udall said.

Schaffer said high prices are a result of Democrats in Congress delaying the development of existing oil. He said the tax breaks allowed oil companies to increase production and the total amount in taxes they paid.

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“We provided proper financial incentives, the production worked and we reaped more benefits,” Schaffer told a packed hall.

The two men also disagreed over what to do about the Iraq war.

Schaffer said the U.S. needs to stay in Iraq until the Iraqis can take control. Udall said he favors a responsible withdrawal with no timeline.

“The threat of extremism is real. We have to fight. We have to be tough and we have to be smart and we have to use all of our weapons, including our military, but also including our Bill of Rights,” Udall said.

Udall, who now represents the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Boulder, took exception when Schaffer kept taking potshots at the liberal orientation of many Boulder residents and tried to pin a “Boulder liberal” label on Udall.

Udall said the next senator will represent all of Colorado and not just favored constituents.

Both men said they would not support expansion of Army training facilities in Pinon Canyon in southern Colorado because they believe the Army has not made its case.

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