In a U.S. Senate debate held Monday on the UCA campus, Republican Senate hopeful Cong. Tom Cotton said incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor has “loyally supported Barack Obama’s agenda,” while Pryor said Cotton is listening to “billionaire donors.”
The debate, which also featured Libertarian Nathan LaFrance and Green Party nominee Mark Swaney, was live streamed on AETN’s website at 2 p.m. and will be available at its website, as soon as it is uploaded. It will also air tonight at 8 p.m.
Cotton referred to President Obama numerous times during each of his answers. He said repeatedly that Pryor had voted with Obama 93% of the time and said Pryor had cast the decisive vote for Obamacare.
“Sen. Pryor simply isn’t tough enough to stand up to Barack Obama and put Arkansas first. … He likes to talk one way in Arkansas, but then he votes like a liberal when he gets to Washington, D.C., and that’s why a vote for Mark Pryor is a vote for Barack Obama,” Cotton said.
In his closing remarks, he repeated that theme. “President Obama said his policies are on the ballot, every single one of them,” he said. “In Arkansas, the name of those policies is Mark Pryor because Mark Pryor votes with Barack Obama 93% of the time.”
Pryor at one point described Cotton as “entitled.” He said Cotton’s participation in an upscale California retreat in February 2014 demonstrated his support by wealthy “investors” who would get “six years of paydays” if Cotton were elected.
At the retreat, Pryor said Cotton was praised for voting against the Farm Bill.
Pryor said, “Folks, he’s not listening to you. He’s listening to them. That applause is still ringing in his ear, and those dollar signs are still in his eyes.”
Pryor said Cotton is not willing to compromise to pass legislation.
“Congressman, you don’t have the reputation, the ability or the desire to walk across the aisle to get things done in Washington,” he said.
Cotton called for the repeal of Obamacare and the enactment of reforms allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, and for small businesses to be able to pool their resources to purchase health insurance. Pryor said that, before the Affordable Care Act, patients could be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions or faced medical bankruptcy because of a diagnosis.
Both candidates shared a story about Arkansans they’ve met on the campaign trail who had been affected by the Affordable Care Act – for Pryor, it was a diabetic previously unable to obtain health insurance because of a pre-existing condition; for Cotton, it was a dentist and his wife who lost their health insurance because it wasn’t Obamacare-compliant.
LaFrance, the Libertarian candidate, said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed, arguing that doctors are now focused on correct coding instead of patient care. He said government should not be involved in health care, which currently involves the transfer of wealth from the healthy to the sick. Swaney, the Green Party candidate, said the ACA was a step in the right direction, but it did not do enough to lower the cost of medicine. He said health care is a human right and called for a nationalized health care system.
Swaney called for a carbon tax to combat climate change, said he opposes the death penalty, and called for a tax on Wall Street transactions. He said he supports a constitutional amendment that would overthrow the Citizens United ruling defining corporations as people.
LaFrance called for term limits and the phasing out of Social Security for younger workers. He said candidates from the two major parties are beholden to their special interest donors, who he said are “making an investment in every candidate that they throw money at.”
On Tuesday night at 7 p.m., a one-on-one Senate debate will take place between just Pryor and Cotton in Fayetteville. That debate, sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, will be broadcast on the state’s ABC stations across Arkansas and CSPAN nationwide. Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock will moderate the Fayetteville debate.
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