The candidates in a hotly contested Colorado race that could determine control of the U.S. Senate sparred over Social Security, Medicare and other issues during their first campaign debate on Sept. 6.
Polls show that Sen. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, and Rep. Cory Gardner, his Republican challenger, are locked in a virtual dead heat two months before Election Day.
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When a panelist asked the candidates how they would protect Social Security for future generations, Gardner opened by saying that he would prevent the federal government from borrowing from Social Security for other purposes. “I will stand up for seniors and protect them,” he said in pledging them he would protect both Social Security and Medicare.
According to one blog’s blow-by-blow account, Udall then asked Gardner, “Why would you vote for the Republican Study Committee budget which cut Social Security and would turn Medicare into a voucher program?”
Gardner wasn’t having any of it, saying: “I will protect seniors’ retirement. I will protect Medicare and Social Security.”
On the Affordable Care Act, Gardner accused Udall — a 16-year congressional veteran — of doing “the Washington Two-Step” by saying in his 2008 Senate campaign that he wouldn’t support a government-sponsored health care system and then voting for President Obama’s health care plan after he was elected.
Udall defended his actions on health care, blaming insurance companies for “not keeping faith with the intent of the law.” As for Gardner, he said, “Your solution was to put insurance companies back in charge of health care.”
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The lively hour-long debate at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction was organized by Club 20 (“The Voice of the Western Slope Since 1953”) and sponsored by AARP Colorado.
Photo: AARP Colorado
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