Senate Hopefuls Make Final Pitches

Oct 19, 2012
Originally published on October 19, 2012 7:12 pm



Candidates in a handful of other close Senate races squared off in their final debates last night. We're going to hear some of what they had to say in three states: Virginia, Connecticut and - first - Missouri.


Last night in a St. Louis suburb, Republican Congressman Todd Akin's controversial remarks about what he called legitimate rape did not explicitly come up as he debated Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. McCaskill was asked this question, eliciting laughter from the audience: What will the national press say about Missouri voters if your opponent is elected? Her answer: I don't really care.


SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I'm honestly not that concerned. Now, I'll be honest with you. If I lose this race, I'll hate it because I want our government to reflect our values. I want our government to reflect our best hopes and dreams. And I think Congressman Akin's view is very narrow and leaves a lot of people out. And so I'll be sad, but I always trust the voters. I'll respect whatever decision they make, but I could care less about the national press.

BLOCK: In his response, Congressman Akin took issue with that characterization of him as out of touch with most Missourians.


REPRESENTATIVE TODD AKIN: My views are pretty much in sync with the voters of this state, and what's more, I've opposed the failed record and the failed policies which have given us the unemployment, the lack of jobs and the other miscellaneous problems such as gasoline prices doubling. So I think my views are consistent with the people of Missouri, and I believe that they will re-elect me - they'll elect me to the U.S. Congress.

BLOCK: That's Senate candidate Todd Akin, a Republican, debating Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri last night.

SIEGEL: Now on to Virginia. Two former governors, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen, who was a U.S. senator, met on the campus of Virginia Tech, and they debated their stances on taxes, defense cuts and deficit reduction, though, as moderator Jay Warren pointed out, those stances were not always clear. Here he is pressing George Allen on a question about the plan to reduce the national debt proposed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles.


JAY WARREN: Before we switch to the next segment, Dr. Bob's question was fairly specific: Will you vote for the Simpson-Bowles plan as is? Senator, can I interpret your answer as no to that?

GEORGE ALLEN: I think the Simpson-Bowles measure should be brought up and work its way through the legislative process.

WARREN: Would you support it as is?

ALLEN: I would support it as the way I'd propose our ideas under our blueprint for America's comeback and the parts...

WARREN: But if it's brought up as is, would you support it? Yes or no.

ALLEN: I would amend it.

WARREN: You would amend it.

And, Governor Kaine, what would you do?

TIM KAINE: And, Jay, same question. I would support a plan that like Simpson-Bowles makes 2 or $3 of cuts - 2 or $3 of cuts for every dollar of revenue. That's the way I governed. The particular plan, there are a couple of things about it I don't like, like I don't think they need to reform Social Security in Simpson-Bowles because Social Security isn't contributing to the deficit.

WARREN: Just so we can cut to the (unintelligible) of the viewers, and you're hearing some laughter here because I think they're a little confused. Is it no and no?

KAINE: If it's as is, we're both saying no.

WARREN: All right. That's what I wanted to make clear.

ALLEN: No. What I said is I...

WARREN: Now, we have agreement, and that's maybe the only time that we had agreement. Well, we appreciate that.

ALLEN: Jay...

WARREN: Let's shift to our...

SIEGEL: That's from last night's Virginia U.S. Senate debate between Democratic Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen.

BLOCK: Finally, in Hartford, Connecticut, Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy were asked this question.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you please say something nice about your opponent?

BLOCK: Murphy, a three-term congressman, managed to come up with these words about his opponent, a former professional wrestling executive.


CHRIS MURPHY: Linda McMahon is clearly a very driven person. She's someone, when she sets her mind on something, has shown that she can accomplish that.

SIEGEL: And as for what nice things Linda McMahon had to say about Chris Murphy...


LINDA MCMAHON: Well, I think one of the nicest things that I've seen about Congressman Murphy are his two little boys. They are so cute.

SIEGEL: Which could be construed as an endorsement of his parenting, though Chris Murphy later said most of the credit belongs to his wife. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.