Carney, Urquhart face off in debate
Analysts say candidates drew clear distinctions
Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 7, 2010 23:10
Republican Glen Urquhart shied away from his association with the Tea Party, the ultra-conservative movement that heavily endorsed him in the Republican primary, during a debate Wednesday night in Mitchell Hall.
"I don't think I'm necessarily a Tea Party candidate, but I respect the objectives of those people who want to return to the founders' values of hope, charity, honesty, trust," Urquhart said.
He continued to say that he welcomes the Tea Party's support and appreciates its message.
"They seem to be solid Americans who are peacefully and vigorously attempting to establish the American Dream," Urquhart said.
Urquhart and John Carney, the Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, debated last night in the first installment of Delaware Debates 2010.
Moderator Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media, asked both candidates to define their positions on various policy issues, but the economy dominated the discussion.
Both candidates agreed that job creation should be paramount in reviving the economy.
Urquhart said tax cuts and financial deregulation would be the basis of his economic policy proposals if elected to Congress.
"We will create jobs in Delaware the same way Gov. Pete DuPont did—with carrots, not sticks," he said. "What we need are carrots, incentives, opportunities. We need lower taxes. We're the most highly taxed nation, business-wise, on the face of the Earth. We've surpassed Japan now. And that stops employers from creating jobs."
Carney said providing small business access to capital and bolstering the state's alternative energy sector are essential to job creation.
"We have an offshore wind project that a lot of people here at the University of Delaware have worked towards making sure it's a reality," he said. "We need to make sure that we build the supply chain here in Delaware. Manufacturing the wind turbines, manufacturing the towers for that project. That's hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of investment."
Carney said the university's purchase of the former Chrysler assembly plant presents another opportunity for job creation.
"[University officials] have great plans to expand with university classrooms and research, the Health Science Alliance, to create a technology park," he said. "Those are the kind of jobs that are going to be here for the future, and there's a concrete example of what we can do."
Karibjanian also probed the candidates about their short term solutions to aid a health care system fraught with mismanagement and high cost. Urquhart said he would not support any expansion of government-funded health insurance programs, but that he was in favor of localized insurance pools and interstate competition.
"Competition is the solution, Nancy. It works," he said. "We have the best health care system in the world. We need to extend that through state high-risk pools funded by tax credits, funded by health savings accounts."
Urquhart noted that the state's health care system currently suffers from a lack of competition.
"Delaware only has basically three health care insurers, and it's pretty much the same product with a different wrapper on it. If we had 1,600 companies around the United States competing, we'd be keeping costs down."
Carney said the health care reform passed in March is imperfect, but positive legislative action is necessary in bringing down the cost of health insurance.
He said the patient-centered medical home model and an electronic records system could reduce the staggering costs of health insurance.
"When we put a mandate, which I am very uncomfortable with, on people to have health insurance, we need to make sure they have affordable plans out there," he said.
In the final 30 minutes of the debate, the candidates responded to pre-recorded questions from university students.
Sophomore Gifty Abraham asked for the candidates' stance on repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which prohibits open homosexuality in the military.
"I believe that everybody who patriotically wants to serve the country should have that opportunity," Urquhart said. "But the nuts and bolts of it, the mechanics, that has to be determined by the professional military people that understand what it's like to have five guys in a tiny village in Afghanistan. How will that work?"
Carney said he would overturn the policy.
"It's been in place since the Clinton Administration, and we've learned that it just doesn't work," he said. "We're doing without thousands of committed, dedicated Americans who want to serve their country, and they're being kicked out of the military because they're being exposed. It shouldn't happen that way."
After the debate, Carney spokesman James Allen took aim at Urquhart's reluctance to call himself a Tea Party candidate.
"I think it's interesting Glen Urquhart won the primary by appealing to the Tea Party and the far right and he's trying to backpedal now, clearly," Allen said. Urquhart spokesman David Anderson said his candidate can support the values of the Tea Party without labeling himself.
"We share those values of less government, lower taxes, more personal responsibility," Anderson said. "But all these labels people want to throw around—we're trying to get beyond labels and get to the issues. You're not a Tea Party candidate; you're a candidate for all the people."
Political science professor Jason Mycoff said the Tea Party question stuck out to him as one of the more memorable moments of the debate.
"That was an interesting part of the debate," Mycoff said. "I seem to think the question caught him a little off guard."
Political science professor David Wilson said he couldn't determine a clear winner of the debate, but both candidates were able to establish differences between themselves.