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

Oct 28, 2022, 8:05 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm
Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, left, responds to a question during a debate with Republican c...

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, left, responds to a question during a debate with Republican challenger Joe O'Dea, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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.

AP

Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
6 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni departs Algiers after a two day official visit in Algeria, Mo...
Associated Press

Italy’s premier visits Libya for talks on energy, migration

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister visited Libya for talks Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. Libya is the third North African country Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited over the last two weeks as she seeks to secure new supplies […]
6 hours ago
FILE  - A view of a Flybe flight departing from Manchester Airport, Manchester, England, Jan. 13, 2...
Associated Press

Flights canceled as UK airline Flybe sinks into bankruptcy

LONDON (AP) — Struggling U.K. regional airline Flybe collapsed for the second time in three years Saturday, putting jobs on the line and leaving passengers stranded. The airline initially slumped into bankruptcy in March 2020, shedding 2,400 jobs, as coronavirus restrictions decimated the travel industry. It relaunched in April last year, flying many of the […]
6 hours ago
CORRECTS THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S NAME TO KWIYEON HA - Staff of Kyodo Senpaku Co. holds canned whale meat...
Associated Press

Japan firm opens whale meat vending machines to push sales

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese whaling operator, after struggling for years to promote its products amid protests from conservationists, has found a new way to cultivate clientele and bolster sales: whale meat vending machines. The Kujira (Whale) Store, an unmanned outlet that recently opened in the port town of Yokohama near Tokyo, houses three […]
1 day ago
The Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 passes the High Class Racing ORECA LMP2 07 in a turn during a p...
Associated Press

IMSA takes North American sports cars into hybrid era

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Cadillac growls, while the Porsche and BMW scream. The Acura sounds like an Indy car, and for fun, turn your back to the track and listen carefully as the cars roar around Daytona International Speedway in a new era of IMSA sports car racing. The top prototype class has […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Bennet, O’Dea spar on issues in final Colorado Senate debate