More similarities than differences among Bell, Klobuchar & WetterlingDoran unable to attend candidates forum because of personal schedule conflict
The first forum with (almost) all the DFL candidates for U.S. Senate suggests issues are NOT going to be the defining difference between the candidates. Each candidate answered questions from the audience on issues basically the same way. The differences between the three were mostly nuanced, although there were a few bobbles.For a summary of the forum highlights and analysis please click here to listen to our regular Inside Minnesota Politics podcast
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Highlights of what was said:On Iraq
On how to pay for hurricane Katrina - they all said the tax cuts for the wealthiest americans should be repealed to pay for the reconstruction.
- they all agreed the troops need to come home. Ford Bell said Iraq will never achieve stabilization with U.S. troops there. Amy Klobuchar said the Bush administration needs to at least put forth a plan for bringing the troops home. Patty Wetterling said the troops should be brought home now because "we are the occupiers".
All three supported universal health care, but not to the same extent. Bell and Wetterling answered "yes" that they were for universal health care, but Klobuchar seemed a little more cautious -- proposing that universal health care be extended to children first and then the government should focus on reducing health care costs by negotiating with the drug companies for lower prices. All three supported more education funding
, but with some differences. While Wetterling and Klobuchar seemed to favor federal standards, Bell indicated he was against federal education mandates -- funded or unfunded. Bell said "every state is different". He said what the federal government should do instead of setting standards, is provide more money to schools so they can keep good teachers.
All three said they were against school vouchers, against lowering speed limits, but in favor of finding ways to increase the gas mileage on cars and trucks.
There were minor stumbles. Wetterling at first didn't seem to know what NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was. Bell said he "hasn't thought about" what Senate committees he would want to serve on.
But on the most important question of the afternoon "why are you the best candidate to beat the Republican" (presumable Mark Kennedy) only Wetterling addressed it head on. While Klobuchar and Bell talked about their resumes, Wetterling pointed to numbers. She leads Kennedy in a poll her campaign conducted. She lost to Kennedy last year in the traditionally conservative 6th district, but got 46% of the vote -- more than John Kerrey did in 2004 or Paul Wellstone did in 1998.
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