As expected, jobs and the economy took the center stage during the first gubernatorial debates of the political season on Friday morning. Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, Republican Dave Spence, and Libertarian Jim Higgins spoke on what they could each bring to the table.
Nixon says his record shows he focuses on what matters.
“Bringing people together to make sure we keep fiscal discipline, keep that AAA credit rating, cut the budget when necessary, downsize government in difficult times, to make sure that we have that fiscal discipline that makes us such a great place to invest,” he said.
Spence, however, offered a different view on his opponent’s tenure as governor.
“I’ll give you one name in history,” he said, “Edward Smith. He was the captain of the Titanic. He was down partying with the guests in the boat while they ran into an iceburg. I feel like we’re running into an iceburg in this state.”
He made bold claims that “the governor’s office is for sale” under Nixon, who Spence says “doesn’t live in the real world.”
Higgins said both parties are for sale.
“$24-billion. That’s what the budget for Missouri will be next year. These guys, the major parties spend millions of dollars on their campaigns because whoever wins will have control of $24-billion of other people’s money.”
Senator Claire McCaskill, Republican Congressman Todd Akin, and Libertarian John Dine got a chance to present their senatorial campaigns in Columbia following the gubernatorial forum.
The moderators wasted no time asking whether Akin’s infamous remarks on pregnancy and rape should be a center of focus in the campaign.
Akin said this election is “not about talk,” but about two visions for America.
“Are we going to go down the path of Greece,” he asked, “or a path where we allow freedom, where we allow the American Dream to flourish?”
McCaskill says the comments are not at issue. What is at issue is that the comments represent Akin’s extreme viewpoints, and not just about contraception.
“He wants to abolish the minimum wage, the floor for the middle class in this country. He wants to do away with student loans. He wants to privatize Medicare, privatize Social Security, he wants to do away with the student lunch program,” she explained.
Akin pointed to a founding father to back up his views.
“It’s pretty well captured by Jefferson, when he said, ‘We believe that there is a creator that gives us life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness,'” he said, “that’s the essence of the American Dream.”
McCaskill says this election is about choosing progress over regression.
“You know, we have a choice here. Not only a choice between two candidates that have much different points of view. But also a choice of whether we look back and blame, or look forward and fix.”
The Senate candidates will debate again next month at a St. Louis Area high school.
Friday’s forums were sponsored by the Missouri Press Association.