Ken Buck had more and louder supporters, Jane Norton fired a few grenades that didn’t really detonate, and about 400 people inside Stargazers Theatre and Event Center probably went home with no apparent change in their outlooks after the two Colorado Republicans running for the U.S. Senate engaged in a 90-minute debate Tuesday night.
At times the atmosphere felt more like a Tea Party rally, with both candidates doing their best to appeal to the outer edges of the state Republican party. Buck said he would support missile strikes against Iran’s potential nuclear facilities. Norton stated that Social Security and Medicare are on a “glide path that’s unsustainable.” Both said they would support a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and following the guidelines of the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
One of the night’s biggest ovations actually went to a non-participant, Tea Party and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, who attended solely as a spectator.
Some other moments from the debate, whose moderator was City Councilor Sean Paige:
Buck said he couldn’t believe the Supreme Court “only voted 5-4” against a Chicago gun law. He also suggested term limits for Supreme Court justices in the range of 20-25 years, so they wouldn’t hang on to retire when someone from their political party was president.
Norton said her military policy would be to “double down in Afghanistan … the surge worked in Iraq, and it could work in Afghanistan. … I would not get out of Afghanistan without doing the total job. … We should not be committed to a timetable. We need to be committed to victory.”
Buck suggested pulling out of Afghanistan at an appropriate time, which Norton criticized as being too soft. Buck’s answer: “We’re foolish if we think we can turn Afghanistan into a Western-style democracy. … We need to give our troops an exit strategy to get back home. … We cannot stand behind a corrupt leader (Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai).”
Norton, while answering a question about defining her leadership qualities, referred to herself as “the third of three children.”
Both said they would work to repeal health care reform, but admitted that probably wouldn’t happen as long as Barack Obama is president. Instead, they would work against funding the programs created by reform.
Buck: “We need to take out Iran’s nuclear capability. We need to act, and we need to act strongly.”
Norton picked on Buck for increasing his budget by 40 percent as the Weld County District Attorney in Greeley, but many in the crowd jeered at Norton for doing so. Buck drew cheers for pointing out that Norton supported the state's Referendum C in 2005 that loosened some of TABOR's spending limits on state government.
Buck would vote to end federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Amtrak and the Postal Service.
Both said, if they lost in the GOP primary on Aug. 10, they would support the other in the general election.