LiveBlog: Musgrave/Markey final debate

Tonight the candidates in the 4th CD are having their final debate at Windsor High School in Windsor, Colo. The Colorado Independent is LiveBlogging the debate:

7:05 p.m. – Musgrave is using her opening remarks to deliver some of her most pointed criticism of Betsy Markey. “She believes the rules don’t employ to her,” Musgrave said referring to government contracts that Markey’s family business received while she was employed for Sen. Ken Salazar. Then she read from the Senate ethics manual about government contracts. “Betsy, why don’t you think these rules apply to you?”

Markey quick to reply: “You know Marilyn, I have answered all of these allegations that have been put in front of me.” Markey than said Musgrave has done nothing but attack her, her family and the employees of her family business, Syscom Services during the campaign. Straight from her campaign’s talking points. Then a line that hasn’t been used yet: “People are hurting Marilyn… and I want to talk about the issues and that is why I am here tonight.”

7:16 p.m. – Musgrave is out to prove a point tonight. In her first three responses to questions she has not missed a beat to pound away on Markey, calling her a rule breaker. “Rule breakers should not be rule makers,” Musgrave said.

Marilyn Musgrave at the final debate in Windsor. (Photo/Jason Kosena)
Marilyn Musgrave at the final debate in Windsor. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

7:19 p.m. – Here we go, now we’re talking about some issues. Musgrave said she believes a big problem facing America is the out of control spending of Washington, D.C. On to earmarks the “gateway drug” of Washington, D.C. politicians.

Markey, ready for the line, spits out a listing of Musgrave’s earmark requests since coming to Congress, including voting for the famous Bridge to Nowhere. I guess the candidates get to use notes tonight.

Earlier this spring, Musgrave joined Rep. Mark Udall, who is fighting for a Senate seat against Republican Bob Schaffer, to put a moratorium on earmark requests. Both candidates have used the move to illustrate their ability to work across the aisle.

7:21 p.m. – Musgrave is now correcting Markey, saying she fought the Bridge to Nowhere by fighting Rep. Don Young, R – Alaska, on it.

“I got my tongue lashing for that,” Musgrave said.

So, she fought it, then voted for it. Is this not a race for the United States Congress or what? It’s kind of like Markey’s family business. It wasn’t a woman-owned business even though it was labeled as such on its own Web site.

7:25 p.m. – Talking about the Wall Street bailout. Main Street America. Both candidates have publicly come out against the bailout package that passed Congress and was signed by President Bush. Musgrave voted against it, as did most incumbents in both parties in close re-election battles. This could be the first time all night the two have even come close to agreeing with one another on anything. It probably won’t last long.

The room still feels frigid though. The fierce dislike between the two candidates is not hard to see.

7:28 p.m. – Musgrave is talking up her work on the Farm Bill, which she voted to override President Bush’s veto twice on. Strong agriculture in America is what Colorado needs. On to the Front Range, Musgrave said she knows the economy is a major issue and that people want to see more jobs and a more secure financial future.

When Markey is asked what she hears from constituents she uses the opportunity to hammer on Musgrave. “People are tired of (politicians) going to Washington, D.C. and voting (just) with their party.” Direct shot at Musgrave, who is known for her conservative voting record and who has not strayed far from the Republican line until the last two years where her record, like many Republicans, has distanced from President Bush.

Musgrave: Really bringing it home now. I have been a good bipartisan politician. “Betsy, you have been a shrill (Democratic) party chairman.” Ouch. Did she just call Markey “shrill”?

7:35 p.m. – Markey: “I want to take a moment to talk about bipartisanship. My opponent talks about that a lot and actions speak louder than words.”

Markey: Musgrave only works in a bipartisan fashion at the 11th hour on legislation that is almost finished. Hits Musgrave for her late support on the legislation sponsored by the Colorado delegation for enhanced protection of Rocky Mountain National Park. Musgrave has touted her support of the wilderness status as a crown jewel of her bipartisan work but only came to support the legislation this year. Notable, considering it’s been stalled in Congress for years. ”That is not how you work in a bipartisan way.”

7:37 p.m. – Markey is now being asked what federal programs she would cut if she makes it to Congress, a question neither presidential candidate has been able, or willing, to answer.

Betsy Markey at the final debate in Windsor. (Photo/Jason Kosena)
Betsy Markey at the final debate in Windsor. (Photo/Jason Kosena)

Markey: Cut government media contracts. Stop subsidies to oil and gas subsidies. Cut fat. Cut fat. Cut fat. Much of Markey’s answers are straight from the Democratic playbook. She has been promoting these issues for most of the election.

Musgrave – “I would be an equal opportunity cutter (of the federal budget).” Good line. Now she is moving back to her talking points on government waste and on earmarks. Used term “gateway drug” to spending again. 

7:40 p.m. – Musgrave is now touting the importance of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, a massive proposed water storage project in the 4th CD that is highly controversial. Markey, a Fort Collins resident, said she knows there is a need for more water storage in Colorado but will not go out on a limb and say if she supports the project or not.

“We have to make sure that we explore all the alternatives,” Markey said. Easier to say than to sell. Unlike many environmentalists in Northern Colorado who are against the NISP project, many moderate voters have said they see a need for it.

7:50 p.m. – The crowd, which seems to have drank to much coffee before coming in, has ignored the requests of tonight’s moderator to remain quiet during the debate. Although most of the cheers have followed Markey’s comments, a sign that many Fort Collins supporters made the drive south, some Musgrave supporters are also cheering and clapping. Both campaigns made sure to bring their supporters tonight despite the auditorium having many open seats.

Bob Lawrence, a former Colorado State University professor moderating the debate, is asking the crowd to “follow the rules, please.”

The first debate on CSU’s campus was civil and didn’t include crowd outbursts. The second debate last week in Fort Morgan, Musgrave’s hometown, had a crowd outbursts that were mainly supportive of Musgrave.

7:52 p.m. – Musgrave just spoke out against the environmental activist group the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which has dumped more than $1.2 million into the 4th CD attacking Musgrave, calling them “friends” of Markey. The DOF had supporters outside the debate venue tonight waving signs and wearing t-shirts. Some also arrived in the “anti-Musgrave” Prius, or a car the group paid to have professionally painted with anti-Musgrave slogans.

7:56 p.m. – Closing remarks are beginning.

7:58 p.m. – Markey: “I’m tired of the politics of the petty, the insignificant and of five second sound bites… I am tired of the politics that say the answer to $4 a gallon gas is tax breaks for the oil companies.”

Ah, I think gas is now at $3 a gallon, but the point has been made.

Markey: “There is a yearning in this country for leaders who will bring us together and take us in a new direction. We are tired of living in fear and treating the rest of the world as our enemy and not as our friend… I know the issues, I know the people and I know how to get things done. No one owns me and it will stay that way.”

8:00 p.m. – Musgrave: Harking back to her humble roots in Greeley and where she was raised in poverty and the her time living in the Eastern Plains. “This is our home, this is where (I) raised my family… I am asking you to join me tonight and the supporters of my campaign… Agriculture is the heart and soul of this congressional district.”

Musgrave: Listing a number of endorsements she has received including the surprise endorsement from the Denver Post. “I think that speaks to the work that I have done on behalf of you, my constituents.” Now she is back onto attacking Markey. “We cannot have rule breakers be our rule makers, we cannot have law breakers be our lawmakers.”

Did she just call Markey a criminal?

8:03 p.m. – Both candidates have finished speaking. After coming out swinging at one another they smiled at one another as they shook hands after the debate.

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