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Altmire & Critz Debate For The 2nd Time This Week

In the second debate in as many nights, Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz reiterated many of the same themes they had been discussing since beginning their primary showdown.

Unlike Monday’s debate at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, Tuesday’s was held in a TV studio with no live audience. The debate was moderated by and aired on sister stations WPXI in Pittsburgh and WJAC in Johnstown.

The debate covered a variety of topics, allowing both candidates many opportunities to discuss issues they have highlighted through their respective campaigns.  It started off with the question of stating what makes them different from the other candidate, as many voters feel they have identical, moderate-to-conservative views.

Critz used the opportunity to say that, “ever major union that has endorsed, has endorsed me.”  He also denounced GOP “gimmicks” such as the Balanced Budged Amendment, which he has attacked Altmire for supporting.

Altmire spoke of his perfect voting record since he has been in Congress, casting nearly 4,600 votes since first taking office.  He also used his time to subtly hint that he is more experienced than Critz, mentioning his three terms in Congress.  This is Critz’s first full term on Capitol Hill.

The moderators pointed out that even though both candidates are relatively conservative, they are still in a primary battle.  They were asked why a traditional Democrat should be comfortable voting for him.  Altmire answered that he represents the entire district, not just Democrats or Republicans, and that “my number one priority is to fight for the constituents that sent me to Washington.”  Critz attacked Altmire for voting with Republicans 53 percent of the time and cosponsoring the Balanced Budget Amendment.

With the recent arguments before the Supreme Court on healthcare reform, the candidates were asked what they predicted the outcome would be.  Both candidates said they felt the individual mandate was constitutional and that the Supreme Court would uphold the law.  Altmire said that “the next step has to be bringing down the cost of healthcare,” while Critz said that he has voted against every GOP effort to defund or repeal pieces of the law.

Social Security was discussed as well, with the moderators asking if it would still be around for their grandchildren.  Both candidates said Social Security will still be around in the future, but differed on their approach to keeping it solvent.  Critz said there are issues to address to protect its long-term viability, and attacked the Balanced Budged Amendment for the deep cuts to Social Security it would entail.  Altmire, however, said that balancing the budget is critical to ensure we can still pay our obligations, including Social Security payments.

Both Congressmen made sure to stick to a moderate, noncommittal answer when it came to the idea of campaigning with President Obama.  While they both feel he is doing a good job getting the economy back on track (citing eleven straight quarters of economic growth), both Altmire and Critz were hesitant to say they would campaign for the President or ask the President to campaign for them.  Critz said he would campaign on the policies he supports, while Altmire said that the voters will decide to who to elect based on the decisions he’s made, not Obama’s.  While on the topic of November’s election, both candidates said that should he lose the primary, he would support the other against Keith Rothfus in the general election.

Their stances on energy were nearly identical, praising Marcellus Shale as good for the area’s economy and a major reason western Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate is below the national average.  Both Congressmen also talked about their support for the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

When foreign policy issues came up, Critz was quick to mention his spot on the Armed Services Committee.  On Afghanistan, Critz said, “we’ve made progress, but it’s time to get out.”  Altmire agreed, but also noted that it is important to make sure things do not get volatile again once the Afghan government is self-supporting.  He expressed concern that all of our efforts over the last decade do not go to waste.

Altmire was adamant that we are “absolutely” winning the war on terror, citing Osama bin Laden’s death and the fact that there have been no terror attacks since 9/11.  Critz was more hesitant, explaining that winning this war is difficult to define.

During closing statements, Altmire touted his endorsements from Democratic Committees in counties representing three-quarters of the district, and the Post-Gazette.  Critz reiterated his work supporting the working men and women of his district and preserving Social Security and Medicare.

Although the debate provided little new information on the candidates and their respective positions, the format highlighted the different styles of the Congressmen.  Altmire seemed at ease speaking directly to the camera with no audience, although at times it felt like he was reading from a teleprompter.  Critz, on the other hand, admitted from the beginning that it was going to be difficult not having an audience, and it showed.  He spent most of the time talking to the moderators, not the camera, and at times seemed distracted (at one point, Critz interrupted himself to point out that an off-camera monitor was airing one of his ads).

It was clear that Altmire was very knowledgeable about the policy questions and firm in his beliefs.  Critz was passionate about those topics he routinely talks about, such as the economy, and obviously much prefers speaking directly to the voters about his positions.

6 Responses

  1. Dear rdog,

    Your boy is owned by the Big Labor Thugs. The Thuggary doesn’t have the juice to get a dog catcher elected. Almire will destroy the J’Town hillbilly.

  2. Dear Donny: Is Jason Altmire running for Mayor of K STREET? Does Lobbyist Altmire have any beliefs stronger than a MAX OUT donation? IS ARMSTRONG COUNTY TEA PARTY founder and TEA PARTY Senate Candidate Tom Smith out of Lobbyist Altmire’s league?? IF I make a MAX OUT DONATION like GOP TEA PARTY CANDIDATE TOM SMITH, WILL LOBBYIST ALTMIRE LISTEN TO ME TOO??

  3. It seemed like both candidates agree on most things. If thats the case, this election will come down to who is more personable. It seemed like Altmire was reading talking points from a teleprompter almost like a robot whereas Critz thought about his answers and you could tell that he meant what he was saying. If Critz wins this election, its because voters relate to him more than Altmire.

  4. Mark Critz seems like a nice enough guy. He’s way out of his league here though. I think he’ll make a good Johnstown mayor.

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