Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for A Better Louisiana hosted the first televised U.S. Senate debate last night. Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for A Better Louisiana hosted the first televised U.S. Senate debate last night. Throughout the hour-long event, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her opponent, state treasurer John Kennedy, fielded questions on the economy, and the current crisis facing the financial industry, as well as health care, federal earmarks and Iraq. Video of the debate can be viewed here on LPB’s Web site. Throughout the debate, Kennedy often painted Landrieu as too liberal, criticizing her proposals for injecting capital into banks and mandating expanded health coverage as bordering on socialism. Landrieu often responded by citing reports that rate her as a centrist Senator, and by noting Kennedy ran for the Senate just four years ago as a Democrat.
Toward the end of the session, the candidates were given the opportunity to quiz each other. Landrieu asked Kennedy why he opposed a recent bill she co-sponsored along with her Republican colleague, Sen. David Vitter - and supported by Gov. Jindal - providing $1.12 billion in aid to farmers affected by recent Gulf storms and flooding in the midwest. The bill was stalled by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who is a supporter of Kennedy’s. Kennedy’s campaign proclaimed in an email newsletter to supporters that Coburn “caught Mary Landrieu red handed playing politics with our farmers.” In the debate, Kennedy crawfished, saying it wasn’t the bill he opposed but the process. Kennedy used his question to press Landrieu on her support for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, noting that he has been rated as the most liberal member of the Senate. “Why is he going to be better for Louisiana than Sen. McCain?” asked Kennedy. Landrieu drew some cheers and laughs when she responded; “John, I know you’re trying real hard but Sen. McCain’s coattails aren’t long enough for you.”