Candidates for U.S. Senate square off in first debate Monday

Bob Donaldson

8:08 PM CDT, October 15, 2012



The first debate between the Indiana candidates for United States Senate was a key moment in a race that has been too close to call almost from the very beginning.

Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Richard Mourdock remained in a statistical dead heat as they took the stage with Libertarian Andrew Horning Monday night.

"It's not about right or left, it's about America," Donnelly said in his opening remarks.

"I believe a lot of people go to Washington with good intentions, but they compromise their principles in the name of partisianship," Mourdock countered.

"We need a peaceful revolution and put things back where they belong with equal rights for all at last," Horning said.

The campaign has been marked by attack ads from both Donnelly and Mourdock. Many wondered if the debate would take the same tone as it has on the airwaves.

"If I was the harsh person Mr. Donnelly painted me to be, I wouldn't have gotten the joy that I found working the jungles of Bolivia with some of the poorest people on earth," Mourdock said.

While the candidates were polite throughout, they didn’t pull any punches in the debate, with Donnelly painting Mourdock as a Tea Party extremist and Mourdock calling Donnelly an uncompromised supporter of President Obama.

"We're not that dumb, we know what you were implying and what you were getting at,” said Donnelly at one point.“You also said Medicare should be turned into a voucher system that will cost seniors $6,200 out of their pockets."

Mourdock repeatedly challenged Donnelly for his support of the President.

"I thought they would have a balloon drop and confetti drop when they announced unemployment the other day. That's not good enough Congressman and that's not good enough for us," Mourdock said.

The candidates succeeded in making their positions clear and showing in the first debate why the race will probably remain so close.

"I’m just Joe, I work with both teams, I don't care if you wear an "R" uniform or a "D" uniform... I wear an American uniform," Donnelly said.

"It's time we can do better, I'm running for Senate so we can run Washington the way we run Indiana," concluded Mourdock.