Before a rowdy crowd on Friday, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) and Republican Senate nominee Ken Buck squared off in a debate that touched on the economy, health care, abortion, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and other issues.One of the moments of starkest contrast occurred after the candidates were asked about gays in the military. Bennet said he thought ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ should be repealed, and said the policy was based on “outdated views of our society.”
Buck argued for maintaining the status quo. “I think it is a policy that makes a lot of sense,” he said.
It’s not whether an individual who is gay can serve in the military, the question is whether that individual can be openly gay in the military. It’s one thing to deny someone access to the military and to a career in the military, it’s another thing to — for morale purposes and other purposes — make sure that we are as homogeneous as possible in the military in moving towards the common goal of the security and military actions, as opposed to the distractions that are caused by allowing lifestyle choices to become part of the discussion.
The Buck campaign did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for an expansion of Buck’s views about military homogeneity.
The candidates also clashed on tax cuts. When asked which is more important, extending tax cuts or paying down the deficit, Buck said he supported both.
“By extending tax cuts you pay down the deficit,” Buck said. “You grow the economy by giving people more money.”
“It is a long-term problem rather than a long-term solution,” Buck said of taxes. “I think that lowering taxes and maintaining low taxes in the long run produces more revenue.”
Bennet reiterated his support for keeping the middle class tax cuts, and discussing an extension of those for wealthy Americans, but still hit Buck and said that people should “demand” honesty.
“I support extending the middle class tax cuts, and I’m open to a discussion of extending others,” Bennet said. “But what we need to acknowledge to ourselves is that the last time we did exactly what Ken Buck is describing it led us to the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the largest deficits and debt that we had.”
An audience member exclaimed at that, but Bennet went on.
“It’s true! It’s true!” Bennet said, to cheers from his supporters.
The TPM Poll Average for this race shows Buck leading Bennet 46.6%-43.3%.
Watch the whole debate here: