Casey and Smith spar in Philadelphia debate
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PHILADELPHIA -- Democratic Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger Tom Smith sparred over federal spending, health care reform and trade policy during a debate this morning.
Mr. Casey twice jabbed at Mr. Smith for being a too conservative tea partier while Mr. Smith attacked back, saying the incumbent isn't the independent voice he claims to be but someone who supports many of President Obama's policies.
Mostly, though, the debate was a cordial back-and-forth over policy.
Sponsored by WPVI-Philadelphia and the League of Women voters, it's the election cycle's only debate for Casey, 52 of Scranton, and Mr. Smith, 64, of Armstrong County.
WPVI-Philadelphia recorded the debate Friday and will air it at 1 p.m. Sunday and make it available to other stations between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. WTAE and cable's PCN plan to air it at 5 p.m. Sunday.
"The Affordable Care Act is the biggest power grab in history," said Mr. Smith, who supports repeal. "What do I have against the Affordable Care Act? Do you really want to turn over one-sixth of the economy in this country to bureaucrats like the ones that run the IRS and the Post Office?"
Mr. Smith said the Affordable Care Act imposes 22 new taxes.
"That's not true," Mr. Casey interrupted.
"So, anyhow," Mr. Smith said after an awkward four seconds of silence, Mr. Smith came back with "The Affordable Care Act is dragging down this economy."
Mr. Casey said he doesn't want the country to return to a time when pre-existing medical conditions weren't covered and when young adults couldn't be covered on parents' medical plans.
"The worst thing we could do on health care is to either put our head in the sand and do nothing, is what repeal means, or to have a big partisan fight over it," Mr. Casey said. "We should bring people together to get this right."
The race has grown tighter as Mr. Smith, who had been largely unknown, has poured more of his own money into the race in order to get his message of fiscal responsibility on televisions statewide. The campaign has raised $20.3 million so far to Mr. Casey's $12.7 million.
Nearly $17 million of that is Mr. Smith's own money.
Mr. Casey once led by up to 19 points in surveys of likely voters, but the latest poll shows his lead is down to 1 percent.
Mr. Casey, who is seeking his second term in the Senate, was previously state treasurer and state auditor general.
Mr. Smith is a farmer and businessman who has operated coal mines, car washes, a school bus company and a trucking company.
Election day is Nov. 6.
First Published October 26, 2012 12:49 am