Udall, Schaffer spar over war
Rocky Mountain News
Vail, CO Colorado
The differences between Colorado’s U.S. Senate candidates no longer run just ideology-deep.
In a 9News debate at the University of Denver on Monday, Democrat Mark Udall was laid-back and conciliatory, a 10-year congressman who emphasized that sitting down to talk and working across the aisle is the way to solve problems.
For the second straight get-together, Republican Bob Schaffer came out fiery and attacking, a former U.S. House member who believes that the current Congress has done wrong by the American taxpayer and wants to change that.
The two men hoping to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard repeated their stands on issues.
Schaffer believes tax cuts are needed to buoy the economy, while Udall feels it more important to use government’s power to help struggling homeowners hold onto their residences. Udall opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge unless there are no alternatives; Schaffer said taking resources from a small part of the land will help the U.S. gain energy independence.
Schaffer was quick to criticize Udall and the current Democratic congressional leadership over their lack of support for the Iraq war and for failing to cut taxes. Though he did not interrupt Udall as much he did on last week’s Meet the Press showdown, he did stop the debate several times to say Udall was misrepresenting either his own or Schaffer’s record.
Udall again answered questions by talking about his family and insisted that his record is one of working with every member of the Colorado delegation. With little emotion, he disputed attacks that he is not a friend of the military and spoke of a specific mistake he regretted: getting arrested in 1972 for having a small amount of marijuana.
Afterward, Schaffer campaign manager Dick Wadhams praised the Republican for being more energetic and more thorough in his answers.
“I don’t think voters of Colorado want a milquetoast who seems half asleep,” Wadhams said. “I think they want a fighter.”
But Udall campaign spokeswoman Tara Trujillo said what people really want is a senator who will listen and work in a bipartisan way. And at least one previously undecided audience member agreed with her.
“I thought that Schaffer came across a little too pompous and a little too attack-y,” said Cathy Holmes, of Lone Tree, who went away feeling that she will vote for Udall. “In spite of the fact that (Schaffer) said he was very bipartisan, I think that kind of attitude speaks to a real partisan attitude.”
The most confrontational moment of the night came when Udall, in rare attack mode, said Schaffer is “known as a partisan.”
Schaffer stopped the debate to respond to what he called Udall’s inaccuracy by saying he worked with Democrats in the state Senate, U.S. House and Colorado Board of Education. He then said that Udall voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., 94 percent of the time.
Udall replied by noting that in his final term in the House in 2001-02, Schaffer voted with President George W. Bush just 83 percent of the time, then added, “The other 17 percent of the time, he was to the right of President Bush.”
Two “lightning-round” formats where the candidates were asked to provide answers of “yes” or “no” provided a glimpse at both their styles and substantive differences.
Both said they support increasing nuclear power and oppose Amendment 48, which would define personhood as beginning at conception, and Amendment 51, a tax increase for developmental-disability services.
But Schaffer supports Amendments 46 (ending state affirmative-action programs) and 47 (the “right-to-work” proposal), while Udall opposes them. Udall supported federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research and ending Bush’s tax cuts – positions Schaffer opposes.
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