Bennet, O’Dea spar on issues in final Colorado Senate debate

Oct 28, 2022, 8:05 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm

DENVER (AP) — Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea clashed repeatedly in their final debate Friday over inflation, abortion and Bennet’s effectiveness during his 13 years in Congress.

O’Dea hammered Bennet for voting with President Joe Biden 98% of the time, blaming him for a spending spree that caused inflation and failing to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. But it was his use of a questionable statistic, that Bennet has only passed one bill in his 13 years in the Senate, that set off the normally soft-spoken Democratic senator.

“You’re a liar, Joe,” Bennet snapped.

O’Dea was referring to a lone standalone bill that Bennet authored, but that charge is potentially misleading because most senators, Bennet included, see the vast majority of the bills they write pass as part of larger packages. Bennet has had numerous measures pass that way, which he noted has included billions of dollars in wildfire and drought prevention and, in a separate measure, funding for rural areas to boost internet access.

O’Dea, a businessman and first-time candidate, kept repeating the statistic, using it to charge the often academic-sounding Bennet with incompetence.

“Michael Bennet doesn’t get results,” he said repeatedly. His campaign later said O’Dea was echoing the relatively low ranking of Bennet by the nonpartisan Center for Effective Lawmaking.

The event in the northern Colorado city of Ft. Collins was the only full debate aired on television as O’Dea tries to demonstrate a way for the GOP to win a state shifting toward Democrats. Former President Donald Trump lost Colorado by 13 percentage points in 2020.

O’Dea kicked off a feud with the former president — for whom he voted twice — by saying earlier this month that he’d support another candidate in the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Trump called O’Dea a “RINO” — a Republican In Name Only.

Still, Bennet kept tying O’Dea to Trump, repeatedly reminding his audience that his rival had voted twice before for the ex-president. “He voted for Donald Trump twice, after the children were separated from their mothers at the border,” Bennet said of O’Dea as he listed numerous controversies from the past president.

O’Dea has tried to focus the campaign on crime and inflation, which led to his sharpest attack on Bennet when he asked the Democratic senator about the $5 trillion in recent federal spending: “Do you regret the spending?”

“I regret the inflation that people are facing,” Bennet replied, adding that it was caused by “broken supply chains globally” and energy issues.

Bennet went on the attack on abortion, even though O’Dea is the rare Republican who backs abortion rights — at least through 20 weeks of pregnancy, after which he thinks the procedure should be banned. Bennet noted that only about 1% of abortions come after that date, all heartbreaking cases with a late-arriving health issue, he said.

The senator described “the reality of women having the worst experience of their life, the last thing they need is to have Joe O’Dea in there with them.”

O’Dea reiterated his support for abortion rights up to five months of pregnancy. “Michael Bennet has voted for abortion up to the moment of birth,” O’Dea said. “I think that’s extreme.”

In response to a question about when he’s disagreed with Biden, Bennet listed some of his objections to the president’s policies, including Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, his trip to Saudi Arabia earlier this year and lifting a pandemic-related restriction on immigrants seeking asylum at the southern border.

O’Dea was asked about what priorities of the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell, he might block. He said he did not think any more of former President Barack Obama’s health care law needed to be repealed.

Though national Republicans have admired O’Dea’s attempt to keep the race away from social issues, they have not invested much money in helping his campaign, a sign of the tough hill O’Dea has to climb to unseat Bennet.

Colorado Republicans have not won a top-tier race in the state since 2014, when Cory Gardner ousted Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. But Gardner was kicked out of office by the state’s voters in 2020 and he was the only top-of-the-ticket statewide Republican winner since 2004.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

2 days ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

2 days ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

2 days ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

3 days ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

5 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Bennet, O’Dea spar on issues in final Colorado Senate debate