Harry Reid’s opening remarks included anecdotes from his humble beginnings including the fact that his family struggled and his mother had to take in laundry from local brothels in Searchlight to earn money. Reid said Nevada was at the top of economic food chain for twenty years, but has been in a hole for the last twenty months. He said he believes his number one job is to create jobs.
Sharron Angle said tonight we will see a contrast between the candidates. She said she is not a career politician, but a mother and a grandmother. She listed the Reid policies that have hurt Nevada including health care reform and Obamacare, pointing to the high unemployment, foreclosure and bankruptcy rates.
The opening question was on immigration. Reid was asked why he has been lax on immigration to this point. He pointed to what he has done on the border so far and the fact that we have drones flying over the border 24 hours a day. He said the country needs comprehensive immigration reform, a position he has often stated.
Angle said we need a law similar to the AZ immigration law, and every state needs a sheriff like Joe Arpaio. ”Senator Reid you have allowed 11 foreign countries to dictate our immigration law. That’s just nuts,” said Angle as she looked over at the majority leader.
When asked about the ad that claims Reid has supported benefits for illegal aliens for which her campaign was criticized by some fact checkers, Angle defended it and insisted that Reid has supported paying benefits including social security for illegal immigrants.
Reid said he has never voted for tax breaks or benefits for illegal immigrations and said Angle’s statements are just false.
Angle insisted that Reid supports benefits for immigrants, adding that we have an immigration problem in this country, and saying that Ronald Reagan had it wrong when he favored amnesty policies in 1986.
When asked about health care reform costs, Reid disputed the law will cause increased federal debt. Reid said the CBO told Congress the country will reduce the debt by $1.3 trillion. He also mentioned the children who will now be covered and said it was necessary and good to extend life of Medicare for 12 years.
On Obamacare, Reid defended, while Angle said the bill cut a half trillion dollars out of Medicare right at the point where seniors need it. She also said it passes one half trillion dollars in new taxes. Angle insisted the solution to the insurance helath care cost problem resides within the free market and that we need to allow people to go across state lines for coverage. She mentioned removing mandates, tort reform and expanding health care pools.
Reid criticized Angle for her position on mandates, and the moderator asked Angle whether she would support any health care mandates at all.
Angle did not directly answer the question, but just said that America is a country of choices and that we need a system in which people can buy a basic policy and add what they need. She said forcing people to buy something they don’t need is not the way to solve the problem.
Reid answered that insurance companies do not do things out of goodness of their hearts and have “almost destroyed our economy.” Reid said they should be forced to cover mammograms, colonoscopies and other tests because it will save money in the long run to do this.
When asked whether federal tax dollars should be used to pay for abortions, Angle simply answered “no.” Reid referred to the law of the land, mentioning the Hyde amendment.A
On Supreme Court judges they like and dislike, and would have voted for or not, Reid mentioned disliking Scalia’s decisions while respecting his legal mind. Angle said she would not have voted for either Sotomayor and Kagan, saying they do not understand the limits of the Constitution.
“I think we should stop running down the Supreme Court,” said Reid. He referenced his dislike of the decision in Gore. vs. Bush, but said we are a country of laws and should respect the court.
All in all, Reid seemed on the defense slightly more than Angle in this first part of the debate — in part because the first few questions were on immigration and health care — but neither candidate made any grave errors nor said anything unexpected or surprising. Most of these issues have been explored and discussed by the campaigns.
[End Part One]