STORRS, Conn. (AP) â€” Personal finances, voting records, women's health care and dueling economic plans â€” the four dominant issues in Connecticut's close U.S. Senate race â€” monopolized the second debate on Thursday between Republican Linda McMahon and Democratic U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy.
While the two candidates vying to fill the seat held by the retiring U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman revealed little new about their positions, each got a chance to sharpen their attacks against one another.
Murphy received cheers from the crowd at the University of Connecticut when he accused McMahon of being addicted to making personal attacks while reticent to talk about the issues. It came after she called on him to release documents from a personal line of credit she has questioned.
"She is desperate to make this race and these debates about anything other than issues," Murphy told reporters afterward.
McMahon acknowledged the Senate campaign "has its share on both sides" of negative ads, and that she believes the debates have shown there is a clear difference between the two candidates.
"There is a person who has a plan on how to get our folks back to work and get our economy back on track," McMahon said of herself, repeating her accusation that Murphy does not have a jobs plan and supported policies during his time in Congress that she says have led to high unemployment and high gas and food prices.
Thursday's debate, sponsored by FOX CT, the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, comes as polls show the race is neck and neck. About 700 tickets were distributed for the event, which drew many students. Two more debates are planned, for Oct. 15 in New London and Oct. 18 in Hartford.
Social Security and taxes were also themes on Thursday night.
McMahon scolded Murphy for running a TV ad accusing her of wanting to "sunset" or end Social Security, saying the ad was false. Even though she used the phrase during a videotaped event with tea party activists, McMahon reiterated that she does not support federal budget cuts to Social Security or Medicare and does not want to end Social Security. But she said reform is needed, adding that the two programs are not financially sustainable.
"Chris, you know you have to be honest. You're not being honest about this whole thing," McMahon said. "I have said all along that I would never cut or support a budget that (cuts) benefits to our seniors and I won't."
Murphy criticized McMahon for not offering any specific ideas for paring the cost of the two government health care programs. He has called for lifting the cap on the amount of income that's taxed to raise money for Medicare. He has also called for cutting the rate of growth in the program.
"I'm willing to be specific," he said. "Linda McMahon in the last campaign and this campaign won't tell voters where she stands on these issues."
McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, now known as WWE, ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and lost to now-Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the former Democratic state attorney general. In both campaigns, she has said that members of Congress need to work together to come up with ways to reduce the cost of both programs.
The two clashed on other issues, such as extending the President George W. Bush-era tax cuts: Murphy wants to extend them only for the middle class while McMahon supports continuing them for everyone, including the wealthy. She also has called for reducing middle-class tax rates, a proposal that Murphy said was fiscally unbalanced.
The candidates also sparred over their respective finances and voting records.
McMahon continued to question a loan that Murphy received after facing foreclosure, while Murphy criticized McMahon for not paying back creditors from an old $1 million bankruptcy until two months before the election.
After McMahon brought up her repeated accusation that Murphy missed 75 percent of his congressional hearings, Murphy accused McMahon of being a hypocrite because she acknowledged in her 2010 race that her track record as a voter had been spotty.
Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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BillHammersley | October 14 2012 3:32pm
Why is it that we have to put up with all this lying from the major candidates this year? Estes/Roraback, Murphy/McMahon and Obama/Romney all lie to get votes. We seem to accept lies on a grand scale and not only put up with them but encourage them in our everyday life. Just look at the media and the entertainment we see that venerates the lie over the truth.
WorkingGirl34 | October 13 2012 5:17pm
I found this one pretty funny, "Murphy has an unquenchable need for power and recognition". So this means Mrs McMahon is doing this out of the goodness of her heart?? She is such a saint how could we have ever questioned her?? She wants NO financial gain or recognition of or power of being a US Senator?? Are you friggin kidding me?? If you think the people who pay the bills are leaving, think again, they don't want to retrain people to do their business someplace else. Thats an argument that when you look at it never held water,. Some companies will always leave no matter what, and you need to check facts because more companies left under Rowland and Rell then left in the previous decade. If repubs were really serious about winning this seat, they would have run a candidate thats qualified, not some back room dirtbag that will say and do anything to get elected to be a celebrity.
ChuckR | October 13 2012 3:07pm
When the republicans run someone worth voting for, people will vote for them. Linda McMahon is NOT worth voting for. To put it simply, she has NEVER held public office and she has no track record. She has previously been anti abortion, now she has miraculously become pro choice. She has had an Epiphany I guess. THANK YOU JESUS!!!
She can say whatever she wants as to how she will vote because she has never voted at any level. Linda McMahon NEVER built a business, the WWE was a success long before she took it over and its still a success today NOT because of her, her only job was not to screw it up. Being in business is not the same as being in government, the 2 are vastly different because of one thing, the amount of people you are accountable to. I will be voting for Mr. Murphy, one large reason is BECAUSE he is a politician and he knows how Washington is run. Linda McMahon like to grab at that part of people that says "Lets change everything and throw everyone else out". The problem with that is it never happens and it won't happen. She will be and already is corrupt, just see how many of her employees are on steroids, and we all know the WWE encourages that.
jgnoonan | October 13 2012 11:30am
I can't believe you all. You must be glutton's for punishment. Chris Murphy has done nothing in his life but be a politician, either working for them or being one. He has an unquenchable need for power and recognition. His policies have rained down taxes on this state to point of absurdity. He has never had to meet a payroll or be put in the terrible position of having to lay people off when times are bad. The people who pay the bills in this state are either leaving or thinking of leaving. When his and Malloy's policies erode the tax base who will pay for all of this. At the federal level, using accrual accounting methods, which are required by most companies, we face a $222 TRILLION debt. How the hell do you think THAT is going to be paid for? By a avowed tax and spend liberal? Give me a freaking break.
Amanda | October 13 2012 8:13am
I don't get why the republicans keep nominating her either, except for the fact she can outspend anyone by a 10-1 margin with her own money. She has no integrity and very little in the way of management experience. I didn't live in CT the last time she ran but I was in NY and very close to the border. Her ads there were non stop against Richard Blumenthal and apparently they eventually cost her the election because she was annoying to people. She makes herself look like a lightweight in the debates since she can't give an informed answer, she just keeps repeating her same accusations against Mr Murphy. I personally am a republican and usually vote largely republican, but I will never cast a vote for Linda McMahon
max | October 13 2012 6:09am
I still don't understand why the republicans picked McMahon over Shays and for that matter Simmons last time. It appears they have written off Connecticut as a no win state. I receive a McMahon ad in my mailbox almost everyday and her TV ads make me channel surf for 30 seconds. Most people won't vote for her because of her abusive ad campaign. But in the debates it's just repeating the attack ads. I would vote for Shays but can't vote for her ever.
Karen | October 12 2012 10:19am
Murphy 2, McMahon 0...simple as that
TheREALDad | October 12 2012 6:43am
Linda McMahon once again looked lost and uniformed, She has no plan and does nothing in these debates but accuse Murphy of getting a special deal on a mortgage. Please show your proof it was a special deal Mrs McMahon, just saying it doesn't make it true. It was a percent OVER what the minimum rate was at the time and a half percent more then I got from BOA a few months earlier. The more Linda McMahon debates, the farther behind she gets. She simply is not qualified to be a senator and I doubt she would have been anything close to a CEO had her husband not owned the company.
Cope119 | October 12 2012 4:13am
Linda,,,could you answer ONE question without your typical canned answer?? You have no clue what your talking about and your answers show that. All you have is "Mr Murphy was sued for non payment of his rent." At least he made good on it, he isnt a dead beat that walked away as you did and screwed his creditors. Im now sure that Murphy will be elected and while that doesn't thrill me, he is a far better candidate then you
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