|Updated: 9/13/2010 9:01 am
||Published: 9/08/2010 1:16 pm
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D) and Congressman John Boozman (R) squaring off in their first debate in little rock Friday. And for the first time, the candidates not only answered questions, but got to ask each other questions too.
Neither Lincoln nor Boozman broke new ground in the first half of the debate. For example, the congressman calling the health-care bill a "job killer" and senator Lincoln defending her vote, while admitting the bill isn't perfect. But perhaps the most intrigue came when the two candidates got to ask each other questions.
Senator Lincoln arriving at today's debate in a seemingly good mood, despite trailing John Boozman in the polls. After nearly an hour of questions from a selected media panel, the candidates turned and faced each other. Boozman's first question directed at Lincoln's support for the health-care overhaul.
Boozman: "Would you still cast the deciding vote for Obama care?" Lincoln says: "People told me they wanted no government health care and I stopped it. I did not support the public option and I stopped that government health care. This is a complicated issue. This is not a perfect bill, it's going to take us time. Where there are places to correct in this bill I will."
In turn, Lincoln asked Boozman if staying with the current rising cost of health care is the way to go.
Lincoln says: "I would just simply ask, if we're not going to do something, we're just going to continue the status quo. Is that appropriate?" Boozman says: "Certainly something needs to be done but the idea that we've got to do something and that's the solution, I think is what's wrong with government."
The final question from Lincoln to Boozman, dealing with abortion in cases of rape and incest produced perhaps the tensest moment of the event.
Lincoln says: "Do you believe that the majority of Arkansans agree with your stance that the rights of rapists take priority over the rights of women who they've assaulted?" Boozman says: "I don't know particular bill you're talking about or what particular whatever, like I said I really don’t know what you're talking about." Lincoln says: "Ok, well it's in your record." Boozman: "Well, why don’t you elaborate on that." Lincoln says: "It's a bill that provides for (cut off) Boozman: "What bill are you talking about?" Lincoln says: "I don't have the number with me, but we've got it in our research and I'd be glad to provide it to you." Boozman: (pause)..."I don't think so."
Immediately after the debate the Lincoln campaign provided the following elaboration to the senator’s question:
"In 2005, Boozman voted against a motion to recommit legislation on parental notification that barred fathers, who committed rape or incest against a minor that resulted in a pregnancy, from being able to sue the doctor who performed an abortion. [Congressional Quarterly Today, 4/27/05; HR 748, Vote 143, 4/27/2005]"
Boozman communications director Patrick Creamer responded by saying the Lincoln camp took that vote out of context:
"John Boozman supported The Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which makes it a violation of federal law to transport a minor girl across state lines for the specific purpose of procuring an abortion, if this is done to evade a parental notification or parental consent law that is in effect in the girl's home state,” Creamer says.
“HR748 explicitly provided exceptions for cases where minors were the subject of sexual abuse or other physical abuse by a parent. Representative Jerry Nadler, a pro-abortion advocate in Congress, utilized a procedural tactic, on this same legislation, designed explicitly to delay and kill the bill. John Boozman opposed this maneuver that would have killed sound, prolife legislation. Blanche Lincoln¹s efforts to paint Congressman Boozman as an advocate for 'rapists rights' are preposterous and shameful."
The two candidates have already agreed to another debate on October 13.