The first debate between Democrat Chris Murphy and Republican Linda McMahon didn’t disappoint: it featured 60 lively minutes of sharp exchanges, accusations and substantial differences over policy.
The biggest differences between the two seemed to be over taxes.
Murphy opposes extending tax breaks for the wealthiest citizens, McMahon does not. McMahon would vote to repeal the so-called Obamacare law, Murphy would not. Both candidates promised to oppose cuts in Social Security and Medicare. McMahon pledged not to touch the defense budget, while Murphy said he would support some cuts in defense spending. Both candidates said they would oppose cuts in federal food stamp programs.
McMahon declined to indicate whether she would support increasing payroll taxes to help pay for Social Security or Medicare — a fact that Murphy jumped on. “That was a minute and 30 seconds of I’m not going to tell you what I’m going to do,” he said in reference to McMahon.
McMahon repeated her support of the so-called Blunt Amendment, a Republican proposal that would allow private employers to restrict health insurance coverage for contraception: “It was about the over-reach of government,” she said.
Murphy also pressed McMahon on Social Security, bringing up a statement from the spring where McMahon appeared to indicate she would consider phasing out Social Security.
“I have never said I am for privatizing Social Security or Medicare. I will support continuing reform,” she said.
Some of the sharpest exchanges occurred over attack ads.
“I think our campaign is being run very effectively with our messaging,” said McMahon, who work a bright pink jacket in honor of breast cancer awareness. “Shame on you … you are desperate,” McMahon said numerous times to Murphy. “You thought this was going to be a coronation.”
Murphy used some of his final comments to blast McMahon face-to-face for what he said are “some of the most deceitful personal attack ads that this state has ever seen.”
McMahon concluded that “I can’t be bought,” with a pointed jab at Murphy and questions about a bank loan he once received. Throughout the debate, she repeatedly returned to her “six-point” jobs plan which features a tax cut for the middle class. Murphy said he supports continuing the portion of the so-called Bush tax cuts but not for the wealthiest taxpayers — and said McMahon’s jobs plan was “a bunch of tax cuts for the very wealthy.”
In the debate’s only major gaffe, McMahon said she would support “America’s law for same sex marriage.” There is no national law on same sex marriage. Both candidates said they support gay marriage.