MANATEE — There were a some minor jabs, but the Congressional hopefuls for the 13th District — incumbent Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan and Democrat James Golden — were mostly civil during their 45-minute debate Saturday morning at METV studios in front of a small studio audience of mainly family members.
In the closing push toward Election Day, the candidates rebutted each other’s views, mainly on the economy and health care, and neither really strayed from their respective party lines.
On the economy, Buchanan stressed the Republican mantra of “common sense” spending to help balance the budget.
“Common sense says you don’t spend more than you take in,” Buchanan said. “In the last 50 years, we’ve only balanced the budget four times.”
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Golden also pushed a responsible spending agenda and made it a point to remind those watching of the political uncertainty of 2008, the economic progress that has been made and how the country cannot go back to using old methods.
“I strongly believe that we can’t go back to our future,” Golden said. “Our district and our country must continue to move forward.”
Golden took a few digs at Buchanan, calling him out on his voting record, especially his “No” vote on the $30 billion small business lending bill signed by President Obama last week.
“Every initiative that has been designed to help us get out of the economic crisis ... every one of those efforts, the current representative has voted no, against it,” said Golden, telling Buchanan that he cannot be for job creation while being against any stimulus.
Buchanan fired back by saying his voting record reflects his policy of being fiscally conservative, with less regulations on small businesses and no tax increases.
“I’m against more stimulus and more bailouts,” he said. “I’m not interested in putting more debt on our children and grandchildren.”
The issues of health care and immigration issue brought some rebuttals, too, with the candidates again falling along party lines.
In a brief moment of bipartisanship, the candidates found common ground on offshore drilling: They’re both against it.
Neither would support drilling too close to the coastal waters of Manatee County and voiced their concerns over Cuba’s latest endeavour to drill 50 miles off U.S. waters.
“I felt it was the right thing a while back that we shouldn’t be drilling off of our beaches,” said Buchanan, who last week wrote a letter to President Obama about his concern for Cuba’s drilling plan.