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State Sen. Andrew Rice trounced U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in Tuesday’s debate in Tulsa.
Rice, an Oklahoma City Democrat, is trying to unseat the Republican Inhofe in the November election. The debate was televised by KJRH-2, which also streamed it live on the Internet. There was a small studio audience.
During the debate, Rice, 35, repeatedly challenged Inhofe for supporting unwise and sometimes horrendous government policies during the last eight years under President George Bush, one of the most unpopular presidents in modern American history.
The state Senator pounded Inhofe on supporting investment banking deregulation sponsored by “special interests” during the Bush years, leading to the recent $700 billion taxpayer bailout of Wall Street. Inhofe allowed these special interests to essentially non-regulate the financial markets, he charged, and now Main Street is suffering.
Rice argued Inhofe has allowed terrorist cells in other countries to flourish-a real threat to American security-because of his blind support for the Iraq war.
In a statement released after the debate, the Rice campaign said, “Despite what Jim Inhofe said in tonight’s debate, our national security has been weakened, not strengthened, by his support for reckless and out of touch policies. By focusing so much of our superior military strength on Iraq, George Bush and Jim Inhofe took their eyes off the ball, failed to capture Osama bin Laden and allowed new threats to emerge.”
Rice also argued Inhofe has done nothing to help solve the country’s health care crisis.
Meanwhile, Inhofe, 73, offered no new initiatives or programs he plans to undertake in the next Senate, which will almost certainly contain a larger Democratic majority. He offered no real defense of his previous votes, which have favored Bush policies more than 90 percent of the time. He stood by his bizarre statements about global warming that have made him infamous around the world. To his credit, he often agreed with Rice on his positions.
In the debate, Rice depicted Inhofe as a Washington insider that has allowed special interests to dictate policy and legislation.
“The middle class has become invisible to Washington,” Rice said, arguing the Inhofe was using the debate to take “political potshots” instead of trying to find solutions to the country’s growing economic crisis.
Inhofe downplayed the financial crisis, arguing that Oklahoma has a better economic climate than much of the country as Rice talked about his experiences on the campaign trail meeting people who are suffering financially.
Rice also offered a bipartisan approach to solving the health care crisis by bringing business and government leaders together to reduce health care costs. Inhofe talked about medical malpractice lawsuits.
“. . . Jim Inhofe has spent 22 years in Washington gutting health care services for Oklahoma seniors and the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” according to the Rice campaign in its statement, “while voting in favor of privatization schemes that let big insurance companies decide who will have health care.”