Weh, Udall face off in second and final debate
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D) and his Republican challenger Allen Weh squared off Friday in their second television debate in 24 hours — the only two debates in their Senate race — coming just five days before the Nov. 4 election.
The live debate on KOB-TV focused on the economy, the minimum wage, the national debt and Obamacare.
Throughout the one hour face-off, Udall painted Weh as a Tea Party Republican and “obstructionist.”
Weh, meanwhile, repeatedly insisted Udall was beholden to his party, voting with the president 94 percent of the time. “I have zero tolerance for weak leadership and failed leadership. If we really want to change Washington, we need to change the senator,” Weh said.
The first question tried to clarify one of the most contentious points in the campaign, Weh’s stance on raising the minimum wage. Front and center was Weh’s now oft-repeated remark (in Udall campaign commercials) saying “so what if you’re making four bucks and hour? So what!” Weh contended that this was taken out of context and that he’d said that to encourage “useful dialogue” about having a lower minimum wage for young people.
“What he said, I think, is devastating,” Udall said. “What we need to be doing in New Mexico is lifting all of us up.”
“My opponent would like to perpetuate a myth, that I don’t care about people,” Weh said. “I wish [he] would at least engage in a discussion in the solution.”
“The solution is raising the minimum wage,” Udall said.
Weh nearly agreed. “I break with my party on this, I’m fine with raising the minimum wage,” he said.
In one heated exchange, Weh asserted that the national debt was a direct result of undisciplined Democrat spending. “We have to get off this addiction to print money and spend it, in Washington,” he said.
Udall disagreed, arguing that the debt came under Republican leadership. “We fought two wars and we haven’t paid for them,” he said, naming President Bush and indicating that Weh had been Bush’s campaign manager in New Mexico.
“What are you smoking?” Weh retorted, dismissing the notion he was Bush’s campaign manager.
Udall said the budget solution is in “pay-as-you-go budgeting.”
Weh said the answer is to prioritize spending. “There’s always going to be something important,” he said. “Some things are more important than others.”
Udall and Weh agreed that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, needs fixing, not a repeal.
“We’ve got to take the best parts of this and retain it,” Udall said. “Everybody’s better off… 190,000 New Mexicans have healthcare today that they didn’t have last year.”
Weh said Obamacare is “a terrible burden,” that has provided “small benefits,” and has cost New Mexico jobs.
“Just because you’ve got a health care policy doesn’t mean you’ve got better health care,” Weh said.
Video of the full debate can be found here.
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