KANSAS CITY - Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan and Republican U.S. Congressman Roy Blunt's campaign mudslinging continued today in the U.S. Senate candidates' first debate in Kansas City.
The gist of the hour-long debate -- chock-full of accusations, interrupted speeches and increasingly bitter remarks -- can be captured with a few quotes from the participants. So here it is, the debate in a nutshell:
"But up until now, these two candidates have never stepped into the same room together to debate the issues face to face. Is Missouri's Secretary of State Robin Carnahan as black and white and grainy as her opponent's ads make out? Does ominous music always play in the background when Missouri Congressman and former House majority leader Roy Blunt walks into a room? That's what the commercials seem to make out."
-Nick Haines, moderator, setting the scene for the debate.
"Do we live in a country where the government is bigger than the people or where the people are bigger than the government?"
-Blunt, after naming off some of his main concerns: federal health care, the stimulus plan, private sector jobs and cap and trade utilities.
"On behalf of Missourians who can't be here asking questions tonight, I'd like you to pledge never again to vote for tax breaks to send jobs overseas. I'll give you the rest of my time to answer that question."
-Carnahan, giving Blunt her remaining 15 seconds to respond. Additionally, she touched on her top priorities: the economy and jobs, accountability in government spending and attention to corruption in Washington.
"To me, my priorities, you're right, are very, very different. I'd get rid of earmarks. I'd use merit and competition in how we bring tax dollars to our state."
-Carnahan, who said earmark spending adds to the deficit and corruption at the Capitol.
"In terms of competing for things that are right for Missouri ... If you don't compete, you don't get the money."
-Blunt, defending his support of earmark money directed to help Missouri.
On health care
"We can't afford it. We just simply can't afford it. And it's a bad plan. ...There are lots of things you could do (to fix health care). The problem is, they're just not in this bill."
-Blunt went on to propose several alternatives to the current health care law.
"They (the people) should have the same access that you have as a member of Congress. So I think if you want to repeal health care reform and let insurance companies go back to their worst abuses, Congressman, then you ought to repeal your own first, and man up, and do what you're asking other people to do."
-Carnahan's response to Blunt's stance against the federal health care law.
"I'm not for it (cap and trade) and my opponent is. The United States of America is a lot of things, but it's not a planet. We can't solve this Co2 problem by ourselves. We can make it worse by ourselves."
-Blunt denouncing cap and trade, but recognizing climate change as an issue he will face if elected.
"We have got to get off this addiction to foreign oil. It's costing us dearly. ...We know that the future is about our own homegrown energy. Clean energy that we can control, not these foreign oil dictators."
-Carnahan criticizing the United States' dependence on foreign oil and recognizing the need for alternative energy choices.
"I am their worst enemy. They know they can't buy me."
-Carnahan, who repeatedly accused Blunt of getting cozy with K-Street lobbyists.
"Once again, Secretary Carnahan is saying things she knows are not true. I'm not at the top of that list now and she knows it."
-Blunt, referring to Carnahan's accusation that he's the top recipient of lobbyist donations.
"2010 is the time when we decide: Are we going to renew the lease on freedom for another generation, or are we just going to be like everybody else? It is clear to me that the current people in control in Washington want us to be like everybody else. ... I want us to be citizens of the United States of America -- a country with greater opportunity, a country with greater aspirations, a country with greater goals than any other country in the history of the world."
-Blunt, who also reiterated the extremity of the Democratic agenda in Washington.
"He's got a record there of 14 years bailing out Wall Street, taking care of the special interests, raising the deficit and sticking us with the bill. I don't think that's something that deserves a promotion and most people in Missouri would agree. I think it's time we fix what's broken in Washington. And that's never going to happen if we keep sending the same old people out there to do the same thing. My priorities are different."
-Carnahan, who ended with a promise to remember where she came from if she gets to Washington.