No drama in Murray – Rossi debate

Oct 14, 2010, 8:14 PM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Rossi-MurrayAfter weeks of punching each other with negative campaign ads, Senator Patty Murray and challenger Dino Rossi faced off in their first debate last night in Spokane with no drama, no raised voices and only polite jabs as they repeatedly pointed out the other’s failings.

Republican Dino Rossi began the live, one-hour debate by saying the election isn’t personal and he has “a lot of respect for Senator Murray” but people in Washington, D.C. can’t admit when they’re wrong.

“America is in trouble,” he says. “If we don’t have a course correction in this election I think we’re going to wake up 24 months from now in a country we don’t recognize.”

Throughout the debate, Democratic Senator Murray stressed her experience in taking on “even the most powerful” in D.C. when it comes to fighting for our state, and she says “mistakes and greed on Wall Street” are causing the problems families are struggling with.

Candidates answered questions about the war in Afghanistan, creating jobs in Washington, cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford, health care and Medicare funding. Both repeated their campaign talking points on those topics.

One new issue that came up was whether Congress should repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays serving in the military.

Rossi says, “Up to now it appears to have been working, but I want to know what the men and women of the military have to say about this.” He says he’ll consider whether the policy is “reasonable, rational and responsible” as gets more information and then makes a decision on the issue.

Murray is a sponsor of repealing the policy. She called Major Margaret Witt a “hero.” Witt is the flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being a lesbian. A federal judge in Tacoma recently ruled she should be given her job back.

“I talk to men and women who are the ground and they know that everyone who wants to give back to this country by serving in the military ought to be able to do it,” Murray says.

As a debate strategy, Senator Murray subtly suggested that Rossi was avoiding questions by saying several times, “I didn’t hear an answer in that statement” by Rossi and “what I didn’t hear in all that” after his responses.

Considering the attack ads both campaigns are running, a refreshing question was: Is there anything your opponent has done for the State of Washington that you approve of?

“I really do admire Mr. Rossi for getting into this race. I know how difficult it is and how much time it takes and it’s really hard on your family,” Murray says. “I do know that he comes here with heart and passion and I respect that.”

“I believe that Senator Murray and her staff have done good work with veterans,” Rossi says.

As for campaign ads, Rossi says, “We’re both running ads, but mine actually have the added benefit of being the truth…What you’re seeing is an 18 year incumbent that’s desperate to have six more years.”

In Rossi’s closing statement, he presented himself as an option who will take the country in a different, better direction. “You can with Senator Murray or come with me,” he says. “I want to allow entrepreneurs to be successful. I want Washington State to get back to work again.”

Murray’s final statement focused on what “Mr. Rossi didn’t tell you tonight.” She says he wants to repeal Wall Street reform, he won’t fight for targeted investments, and that he wants to go back to Bush-era economic policies.

If you watched the debate, who do you think did a better job? If you’re undecided, what do you want to hear that will help you make up your mind in this very close, key Senate race?

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No drama in Murray – Rossi debate