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The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

CSU hosts US Senate candidates in televised debate

.S.+Sen.+Michael+Bennet+and+U.S.+Senate+candidate+Joe+O%E2%80%99Dea+respond+to+questions+during+their+final+debate+before+Election+Day+in+the+Lory+Student+Center

Collegian | Lucy Morantz

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet and U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea respond to questions during their final debate before Election Day in the Lory Student Center Oct. 28.

Kyra McKinley

Sam Hutton, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University hosted a public debate between the front-runner candidates to represent Colorado in the United States Senate.

Held in the Lory Student Center ballrooms Oct. 28, the event saw Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea lay out their qualifications, discuss their goals for office and make their cases for election to Colorado voters. 

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Several central issues facing the American people, such as rampant inflation, the opioid crisis, gun control and abortion access, served as the major points of discussion between the candidates, with both candidates taking differing stances and offering a wide array of solutions to such concerns.

Inflation

Working-class Coloradans have been significantly affected by the recent skyrocketing rates of inflation, often limiting the availability of common household necessities. Many candidates across the political aisle have expressed their concerns over the federal government’s spending habits in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, believing that such spending ignores working Americans.

O’Dea is one such candidate and has made his vehement disapproval of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better and Inflation Reduction acts a fixture of his campaign.

“It starts with the reckless spending that we’ve seen by Bennet and Biden over the course of the last two years,” O’Dea said. “Michael Bennet doesn’t get any results.”

Bennet responded by defending recent spending efforts designed to alleviate the effects of inflation.

“This bill would cap drug prices for seniors at $2,000 in Colorado; it would require Medicare, for the first time in American history, to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the American people and it caps insulin prices at $35 per month,” Bennet said. “I think there are a lot of Coloradans, especially seniors, that are going to find a lot to like in this bill.”

Opioid crisis

Prescription opiates, most notably fentanyl, have been surfacing across the U.S. in recent years in alarming quantities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 150 people fatally overdose on synthetic opiates daily, serving as one of the more prolific examples of a public health crisis in recent memory.

Lawmakers across the country have made efforts to stem the flow of synthetic opiates like fentanyl but offer several different solutions to the issue.

Bennet thinks the government should restrict the ability of other countries, like China and Mexico, to manufacture and distribute opiates across American borders, but he also believes in offering services to those affected by the crisis.

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“For people afflicted by opioid addiction in this state, we need to make sure they have the chance as they’re going through the criminal justice system to get better and get well,” Bennet said.

O’Dea suggested a similar approach, advocating for additional law enforcement presence tasked with securing the border and stopping the spread of fentanyl.

“My first bill that I will run will be directed at securing this border, giving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals kids their chance to have citizenship and reinvigorating our immigration system,” O’Dea said. “We need to revamp the entire system.”

Gun control

In the wake of the increased frequency of mass shootings in the U.S., the push for increased gun control legislation that would restrict the availability of high-power firearms through measures such as increased competency standards and raising the age requirement for firearm purchases has become a central aspect of American politics.

The candidates largely mirrored their respective parties’ sentiments concerning gun control legislation but appeared open to bipartisan discussion.

O’Dea thinks the solution to limiting gun violence in American communities lies within existing legislation and new legislation is unnecessary. O’Dea also advocated for increased law enforcement within schools in an effort to deter potential attacks and serve as an additional line of defense.

“I will not be lectured by Democrats that continue to say we need to change gun laws (while failing) to enforce the laws we already have on the books,” O’Dea said.

“On guns, I just want to be very clear: Joe O’Dea said he supports no gun laws beyond what we already have as a society, he’s against the red flag law we already have in Colorado and he said he would have voted against the bipartisan gun bill,” Bennet said.

Abortion

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the ruling of Roe v. Wade (1973), the debate over abortion access has intensified significantly, acting as one of the biggest issues facing voters in the upcoming midterm elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Both candidates offered amenable solutions to the issue, largely focusing on the legality of abortions later in pregnancy.

Bennet has supported previous legislation that protects abortion access, even in later-term instances, and has worked to codify a woman’s right to choose in Colorado.

“I don’t think Joe O’Dea should be in that room with her when she’s making that decision — I don’t think any politician should,” Bennet said.

O’Dea has taken a stricter stance on abortion access by petitioning for abortion bans with only limited exceptions.

“I can’t vote for late-term abortions,” O’Dea said. “I would support a woman’s right to choose up until 5 months (into the pregnancy) — after that, exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.”

Closing statements

To end the debate, each candidate was allotted time to offer a final plea to voters, reinforce their vision for the future of America and outline their goals if elected.

“I would like very much your support for the Senate,” Bennet said. “I believe very strongly that our democracy is very fragile and our democracy needs us.”

“A vote for me is a vote for change,” O’Dea said. “I hope to earn your support.”

The debate served as the latest public debate between these two candidates, who will continue to participate in debates across the state ahead of the Nov. 8 elections.

Reach Sam Hutton at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Sam_Hut14.

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