Terry, White squareÂ offÂ inÂ firstÂ debate
By KVNO News
October 12th, 2010
By Robyn Wisch
Lee Terry and Tom White squared off in their first televised debate Tuesday. The two, who are fighting for Nebraskaâ€™s seat in the U.S. House representing District two, battled over taxes, spending and whoâ€™s the bigger Washington outsider.This debate was sponsored by the Omaha World Herald and Cox Communications. ClickÂ here to watch the full debate.
The two candidates stayed on message during the debate, hosted by the Omaha World Herald. Tom White, a Democrat and State Senator, whose term ends in January, was on the attack, while Terry, a Republican, whoâ€™s running for his seventh term in Congress, defended his record on Capitol Hill. White used the platform to paint Terry as embedded in Washington politics and cozy with lobbyists. He criticized Terry for voting for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, also referred to as the bank bailout, and said Terryâ€™s years in Congress show him as a false fiscal conservative.
â€œBudget after budget under Republican leadership and with President Bush in control,â€ White said, â€œCongressman Terry voted to do exactly that, he doubled the national debt.â€ â€œBut when it comes to helping middle class Nebraskans and middle class Americans, Congressman Terry doesnâ€™t want to vote for those kinds of programs. He has however a history of voting for Wall Street and major gifts to huge multinational companies.â€
Terry countered TARP has almost entirely been paid back, and was an emergency bill he voted for during an economic crisis. He defended his record on spending, saying he didnâ€™t support bills that placed the burden on taxpayers, like the federal stimulus package and the healthcare overhaul.
Itâ€™s interesting Tom,â€ Terry said, â€œbecause over 85 times, Iâ€™ve voted against spending, seven trillion dollars, even during the Bush years.â€ â€œIâ€™ve continuously voted against large omnibus spending bills.â€ He added, â€œthe other thing that strikes me as interesting, is that the bills you bring up that you support would have added over two trillion dollars to additional spending in the last year, much of which would have gone to our national deficit.â€
The candidates were also questioned on their leadership style. Omaha World Herald reporter Robynn Tysver said White has beenÂ called combative by his colleagues in the Legislature, while Terry has been criticized as too easy going. Terry replied using the opportunity to suggest his accomplishments in Congress are more than his record may show.
â€œI have a leadership style where I like to build a team.â€ Using the example of a bill to expand hydrogen power which Terry said he wrote, he said the best work is done when people arenâ€™t worried about whoâ€™s getting the credit. He said if White researched the bill â€œheâ€™ll find my nameâ€™s not even on that bill, even though I wrote it, because I handed it off to Mike Doyle, a Democrat. So I think the most effective leadership style is building a team, and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve had great success.â€
White countered that Terryâ€™s record â€œhas been judged on what Washington is doing.â€ â€œA go along get along attitude,â€ he said, â€œdoes not work when Washington is profoundly broken.â€ White also defended his reputation as combative saying he wasnâ€™t liked because he fought spending cuts to education that would have driven up property taxes.
One talking point that never came up is a common one this election cycle: Republicans calling their Democratic opponents â€œrubber stampsâ€ for President Obama. Nebraskaâ€™s 2nd district went to the President in 2008, some evidence there may be impetus to turn some of Nebraska blue. Both candidates were asked what they thought of the Presidentâ€™s accomplishments so far. White said he should be focusing more on job creation, but added his efforts have been blocked by Republicans in Congress. Terry also blamed Congress for standing in the Presidentâ€™s way. But that went to the Democratic leadership, who he said has stymied Obamaâ€™s efforts to work across the aisle. Both used their arguments as the reason to throw the other party out of office.
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