In just moments from now, Bill Halter and Blanche Lincoln will face each other in their first televised debate in the Democratic primary for US Senate in Arkansas. [Live streaming video of the event can be found here. . . or simply click through to the News Desk version of this post.] The debate, the first of two scheduled in Little Rock, will be the opening opportunity for Halter and Lincoln to deliver their message to Arkansas primary voters.
Lincoln comes into the debate having passed surprisingly strong derivatives legislation out of the Senate Agriculture Committee, really her first major legislation while she’s held the chairwoman’s gavel. But that legislation has been undermined by Chris Dodd either weakening it to merge with his Wall Street reform bill or forcing Lincoln to submit it as an amendment. Halter may take the position that Lincoln doesn’t have the juice to even get bills out of her committee onto the floor of the Senate, or that Lincoln stood idly by while risky derivatives destroyed the economy, forcing a taxpayer bailout she supported, and that fixing it later doesn’t exactly wash away the initial negligence. That’s what his aides suggested to Evan McMorris-Santoro earlier today:
“The way Halter looks at this, it’s very Washington to claim credit after the fact for fixing something you had a hand in creating,” Halter spokesperson Laura Chapin said. “The financial crisis happened because Washington wasn’t looking out for what Arkansas families needed.”
As for Halter, he has had a good fundraising haul, and the support of both labor unions and, just today, the League of Conservation Voters. But some have questioned Halter’s specific views on a wide range of issues, and beyond attacking Lincoln, he’ll have to give voters a reason to affirmatively vote for him. Lincoln has been doing a lot of attacking of Halter’s record on the Social Security Administration, much of it disingenuous, and Halter will need to defend himself there.
It should be a very interesting debate, and we welcome your participation in the comments as you watch.