In the hotly contested U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, the two candidates had their last chance to battle it out. Democratic candidate and state treasurer Bob Casey Jr. went up against the 16-year veteran Republican U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. The debate was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 16.
The candidates were questioned on the topics of the war in Iraq, the issues in Iran and North Korea, immigration and Social Security. However, the candidates had to be repeatedly reminded not to stray from the original questions that were asked.
The first issue the candidates were asked to address was the problems posed by Iran and North Korea. “This administration, in my judgment, did not do a good job,” Casey said. He added with regard to Iran, ” I think this administration should listen to the military experts, which is something this administration has not done for years.”
In rebuttal, Santorum said that with respect to Iran developing nuclear weapons he believes that the United States must “use all options including military force.” He said, “I would strike without question,” in reference to Iran.
In regards to the war in Iraq, Casey said, “[Santorum] is satisfied with where we are in Iraq. I don’t agree.” Casey also thinks that Donald Rumsfield, the secretary of defense, should be replaced. “We need new leadership in Iraq.”
Santorum, on the other side of the spectrum, said that this country should not “negotiate with terrorists who are very clear what their objectives are.” He said that the United States has not been attacked in over five years and it is because of what the government is doing at present that is preventing future attacks.
Although the question was raised on the topic of a draft being reinstated, neither candidate answered the question.
The issue of immigration was the next topic that displayed the opposing views of the candidates. While Casey accepts the word “amnesty,” Santorum does not and thinks that there should be tougher penalty on those that assist people to cross the border.
“If you broke the law when you came here and you [are allowed to] stay here, that’s amnesty. I don’t believe in that,” Santorum said. He explained that he first would like to look at border security, the employee verification system and temporary work program. He said that he also supports a detention center for people that get caught as they cross the border.
“[My opponent] has voted seven times against funding for border security,” Casey threw back at Santorum. As the time came for Casey’s rebuttal, he spent it lashing out at Santorum and the things he has done in the past; not his views on the subject of immigration.
The next topic that showed further opposing views was social security. “[Santorum] and the president cooked up a privatization scheme.stop the thievery from the Social Security,” Casey said. “We’ve got to make sure that we are doing everything possible to stop privatization.” He accused Santorum of using the excess money from Social Security to finance the deficit.
Santorum said that “the crisis is not for a few years” and added that Bill Clinton had said that Social Security was going to be a problem 10 years ago. He also said that Casey’s plan included raising taxes over $10 trillion in 10 years.
Pennsylvania voters also showed concern for the negative ad campaigning during the general election. The question was raised via e-mail by a Pennsylvania resident. Santorum neglected to respond immediately in continuing his thoughts on Social Security. After 11 seconds, Santorum returned to the question saying that the first six weeks of his ad campaigning was all positive, whereas his competitor only ran 12 hours of positive campaigning. “Attack, attack, attack. He offers absolutely nothing,” Santorum said.
Gun control was a question asked in relevance to the crime in Philadelphia and due to the school shooting in Lancaster, Pa.
Casey said, “New gun laws are not the answer. We need more cops on the street.” Casey also stated that there were 5,200 gun dealers on the streets of Philadelphia. Santorum quickly responded saying, “There are only 22 gun dealers [in the city.]”
Toward the end of the debate, both candidates stated their final positions. Casey said, “I represent the position of change.”
Santorum then closed with saying, “I’ve worked hard for the people of Pennsylvania. It’s not a job I’ve inherited because of my last name.”