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November 28, 2014

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October 28, 2014

6 House Debate Moments That Reminded Us of High School (Video)

6 House Debate Moments That Reminded Us of High School (Video)

Foust is running for Congress in Virginia. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rowdy auditoriums, petty exchanges, testy comebacks. Sounds like high school, right?

Try House candidate debates in 2014.

CQ Roll Call collected six of the most awkward and juvenile moments of the cycle from the hundreds of debates that took place across the country.

Like most debates, none of these moments will have much of an impact on the final outcome of the race. But as a season of these awkward meet-ups conclude, these exchanges are worth watching — at least for their entertainment value.

Here are the six debate moments that reminded us of high school:

Full story

October 8, 2014

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Roberts, left, and Orman, right, talk after the debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Embattled Sen. Pat Roberts doesn’t need voters to like him. On Wednesday, the three-term incumbent made the message he wants voters to take with them to the ballot box next month clear.

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate Roberts is being challenged by independent Greg Orman, and most recent polls show the three-term senator behind.

“A vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the future of Kansas to [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [President Barack] Obama,” Roberts said in his opening statement at the Wednesday debate.

“A vote for Pat Roberts,” he said later, “is a vote for a Republican majority.”

Roberts has struggled mightily in his re-election campaign. He trailed Orman by 5 points or 10 points in previous public polling, although a new CNN poll showed him up 49 percent to 48 percent. Whether that’s an outlier or a sign of a rejuvenated campaign remains unclear. Full story

September 6, 2014

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is in for a tough battle this fall. But in the Republican’s first public appearance with the candidate that has put his re-election in jeopardy, Roberts made clear he’s not only running against independent Greg Orman — he’s running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Roberts and Orman faced off in a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, just three days after Democratic nominee Chad Taylor tried to drop out of the race, opening the door for Orman to have a real shot at ousting the senator.

Roberts, who had not seemed to be taking the campaign particularly seriously, turned it on Saturday and came out swinging. He cast Orman, who has not yet said which party he would caucus with if elected, as a vote for Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

“I am the only candidate on this stage that will vote to put Harry Reid out to pasture,” Roberts said. “My opponent wants you to believe he’s an independent. He is not. He is a liberal Democrat by philosophy. He has given thousands of dollars to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and, listen to this, listen to this, Harry Reid. Now Kansans know better.”

Roberts stuck to that message through the whole debate, bringing every single question back to Reid. So much so that Orman cracked, “It’s shocking that we didn’t hear the name Harry Reid in that,” when Roberts chose to mention Obama, instead, in an answer about the 2nd Amendment.

Full story

April 20, 2014

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate Debate

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate Debate

Handel, left, and Perdue, right, debate for the Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Republicans Brawl for Conservative Mantle in Senate DebateAUGUSTA, Ga. — Seven Republican Senate hopefuls stood before a mammoth American flag Saturday afternoon for the sixth of seven debates hosted by the state GOP.

In front of a couple hundred voters at the Columbia County Exhibition Center just outside Augusta, the candidates sought to fortify their conservative credentials on immigration, the Second Amendment, abortion and what can be done to improve confidence in the economy.

With so many candidates running for the state’s open Senate seat, none are expected to win a majority of the vote in the May 20 primary. They’re fighting to finish in the top two and advance to the July 22 runoff, when all bets are off.

Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee, wasn’t mentioned until the final three minutes of the 90-minute debate — symbolic of where the GOP’s focus still is in the race to replace retiring GOp Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel first uttered the Nunn name in her closing remarks, as she portrayed herself as the most electable conservative on the stage.

“I would just love to see Michelle Nunn try to drop the ‘war on women’ on me,” Handel said.

Handel is the only woman in the field of GOP candidates, five of whom have at least an outside shot at making the runoff. Former Reebok and Dollar General CEO David Perdue, the cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, continually pitches himself as the outsider with the business background, grouping Handel in with the three members of Congress as the “career politicians.”

“Sometimes real change takes an outsider’s perspective,” Perdue said. “Fresh eyes, determination and a bucket-load of common sense. That’s what I will bring to the United States Senate.”

Full story

April 16, 2014

A Low-Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

Broun speaks with supporter Jim Serrate, of Acworth, Ga., at the conclusion of the Cobb County Republican Women's Club candidate forum on Tuesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in GeorgiaMARIETTA, Ga. — If one knew of Rep. Paul Broun only from a 90-minute Senate candidate forum Tuesday, it wouldn’t be obvious he is the cause of so much heartburn among Republican strategists from Capitol Hill to Atlanta — all hoping to hold the party’s most vulnerable open seat.

Broun, known widely for his controversial comments on evolution and other topics, sat stoic and expressionless on the dais as four other Georgia Republican hopefuls professed their conservative credentials. Each time the moderator called on him, Broun took a slow, deep breath before calmly — though sometimes haltingly — laying out his views and record on a range of issues.

That included his bill to prohibit “amnesty” in any comprehensive immigration overhaul, his bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his staunch support of the Second Amendment. All are firmly conservative positions, but his answers lacked any hint of the rhetoric that has some party insiders concerned his nomination would put in jeopardy a seat the party must hold for any hope of winning the Senate majority. Full story

October 24, 2012

Indiana: Richard Mourdock Apologizes to Those Who Misunderstood Comments

Indiana: Richard Mourdock Apologizes to Those Who Misunderstood Comments

(Tom Strattman/Associated Press)

Updated 3:45 p.m. | INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) sought to clarify his controversial debate comment that pregnancies resulting from rape are “something that God intended to happen” this morning, apologizing to those who misunderstood his remarks but standing by their intended meaning.

“If, because of the lack of clarity in my words, they came away with the impression other than those I said a moment ago, that life is precious, that I abhor violence, and God abhors violence and rape. If they came away with any impression other than that, I truly regret it,” Mourdock said at a press conference at Indiana Republican Party headquarters

Mourdock choked up repeatedly during the press conference, declaring himself a “more humble person this morning because so many people mistook, twisted, came to misunderstand the point that I was trying to make.” But when pressed about his apology, Mourdock defended the original intent behind his statement. Full story

Indiana: John Cornyn Stands by Richard Mourdock After Abortion Comments

Indiana: John Cornyn Stands by Richard Mourdock After Abortion Comments

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

INDIANAPOLIS — National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) is standing by his nominee in Indiana, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who said pregnancy that results from rape “is something God intended to happen” in the final Senate debate Tuesday night.

Mourdock was answering a question about abortion and explaining his position that he is against the procedure in all cases except when the life of the mother is at risk. He faces Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, who is also anti-abortion-rights but believes in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.

“Richard and I, along with millions of Americans – including even Joe Donnelly – believe that life is a gift from God,” Cornyn said in a statement emailed to reporters this morning. “To try and construe his words as anything other than a restatement of that belief is irresponsible and ridiculous. In fact, rather than condemning him for his position, as some in his party have when it’s come to Republicans, I commend Congressman Donnelly for his support of life.” Full story

October 23, 2012

In Debate, Richard Mourdock Says Pregnancy From Rape Something ‘God Intended to Happen’

NEW ALBANY, Ind. — In the final, high-stakes debate before Election Day, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) touched on an issue that has bedeviled another Republican Senate candidate, saying that “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

“I just, I struggled with it myself for a long time,” Mourdock said as he teared up. “But I came to realize that life is that gift from God.”


Full story

October 18, 2012

Ohio: Sherrod Brown, Josh Mandel Get Testy and Personal in Debate

Ohio: Sherrod Brown, Josh Mandel Get Testy and Personal in Debate

Vicki Kuhn (right), of Wapakoneta, Ohio, and other GOP supporters cheer in the streets before the second of the three campaign debates between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Republican challenger Josh Mandel. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) were alternately feisty and condescending in a debate tonight in the state’s capital city.

The two-term Senator defended his “pro-worker, pro-small business” record, while Mandel accused Brown of “gobbledygook” and “Washington speak”  that requires an online translator.

“You have my commitment for my second term to continue to fight for Ohio workers and Ohio companies and to continue to stand up for the middle class,” Brown said.

“Sherrod Brown says one thing in Ohio and does another thing in Washington,” Mandel said several times throughout the hourlong debate. “We can’t change Washington by sending Sherrod Brown back there.” Full story

Missouri: Todd Akin, Claire McCaskill Reprise Familiar Themes

Missouri: Todd Akin, Claire McCaskill Reprise Familiar Themes

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and GOP Rep. Todd Akin used the final Missouri Senate debate to talk about issues close to home, but the exchange of the night came on foreign policy.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)  became a focus of the discussion, with McCaskill and Akin disagreeing on his proposal to restrict foreign aid to a variety of countries — even if neither candidate could quite remember which ones the Kentucky Republican meant to reference.

“I am, in fact, the one that’s supporting the fact that we should not be giving foreign money to a number of places, and that includes of course Libya and Pakistan and — let’s see, one other country as well …” Akin said.

McCaskill offered up “Syria,” in a moment reminiscent of when Mitt Romney pitched in to try to help Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) remember which Cabinet departments he planned to eliminate during a presidential primary debate earlier this year.

The third country on Paul’s list is Egypt.

Full story

October 11, 2012

California: Things Get Touchy at Berman-Sherman Debate

California: Things Get Touchy at Berman Sherman Debate

Rep. Howard Berman (left) speaks during a candidate forum with Rep. Brad Sherman on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Rarely is politics described as a contact sport in the literal sense, but the exception happened today toward the end of a feisty debate between Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman at a community college in the San Fernando Valley.

Things escalated toward the end of the debate, during an argument over Berman’s leadership on the DREAM Act. The debate was held in front of a largely Hispanic crowd of more than 200 enthusiastic Pierce College students and members of the community,  Full story

California: Howard Berman, Brad Sherman Joust on Valley Values

California: Howard Berman, Brad Sherman Joust on Valley Values

Rep. Brad Sherman (right) speaks during a candidate forum with Rep. Howard Berman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

RESEDA, Calif. — There was far more space between the green armchairs that Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman sat in during Wednesday’s debate than there was on the range of issues the two longtime Congressmen discussed.

But in a duel between two incumbents from the same party, it’s not so much the issues that voters will use to set them apart on Election Day but temperament and which Democrat will better represent their values in Washington, D.C. Full story

October 10, 2012

Arizona: Jeff Flake, Richard Carmona (Politely) Rumble in Debate

Rep. Jeff Flake (R) and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D) engaged in a vigorous but respectful debate Wednesday night in their closely watched contest to replace retiring Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R).

The contest has in recent weeks moved to the forefront of battleground races that could determine which party will control the Senate in the next Congress.

Right off the bat in his opening statement, Flake sought to counter to Carmona’s biography by accusing his foe of being unwilling to take concrete positions on issues.

“My opponent has a great résumé, but a résumé is not a plan,” Flake said. “He’s been running for nearly a year now, and we still don’t know where he stands on the major issues of the day.”

Carmona repeatedly referred to a national “infrastructure” that provided him opportunities for education and to move up the socioeconomic ladder. The term was as much of a subtle criticism of Flake as it was about the American Dream — the underlying charge being that Flake’s fiscal conservatism will inhibit Arizona from obtaining its share of federal infrastructure funds. Full story

EMILY’s List: Women Remain Key

Amid polls showing that women may be drifting away from President Barack Obama, EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock told reporters that women will still help Democrats prevail on Election Day, particularly in key Senate races.

“Women voters are going to vote for Democrats because they know what’s at stake,”  Schriock said in a conference call today. The Democratic women’s PAC has shattered its previous fundraising records and will spend more in this election cycle than at any point in its 27-year history, she said.

Schriock assailed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s record on women’s issues, called on Vice President Joseph Biden to challenge House Budget chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) on those issues in Thursday’s vice presidential debate and touted her PAC’s record 2012 spending on behalf of female Democrats.

Romney knows he needs women to win the election and has decided that “his best strategy for getting their votes is to lie to them,” Schriock said. She quoted Romney’s recent statement to the Des Moines Register that “there’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.” Full story

October 9, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Polling Surge Continues

Mitt Romney’s Polling Surge Continues

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned last month in Virginia. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A cascade of poll numbers confirms Mitt Romney’s big bounce after Wednesday’s debate with President Barack Obama, putting him ahead in several national and state polls and closing the gaps in swing states where he had trailed.

However, there are signs that Friday’s surprising September jobs report may help Obama stanch the bleeding.

Gallup, which unveiled its seven-day likely voter tracker for the first time today, showed Romney with a 49 percent to 47 percent advantage, while Obama led 49 percent to 46 percent among registered voters. This and other recently released polls confirmed an enthusiasm gap that favors the GOP. Gallup did have one bright spot for Obama: Its three-day job approval for the president hit a recent high of 53 percent among “all adults,” possibly aided by Friday’s unexpectedly low 7.8 percent unemployment rate.

Still, polling generally continues to show a strong bounce for Romney, the Republican presidential nominee — most pronounced in Monday’s Pew poll that showed the former Massachusetts governor swinging to a 4-point lead from an 8-point deficit after the debate. Today, Romney led Obama nationally in the RealClearPolitics.com average for the first time in the 2012 campaign.

Full story

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