In their third debate this week, 4th district Congressman Chris Shays and his challenger, Jim Himes worked hard to highlight their differences on a range of issues that have captured headlines in this election season.
Fairfield University was the backdrop for the 90 minute debate hosted by CPTV and WNPR.
Students posed the questions to the candidates on a variety of topics from energy independence to international policy and to subjects close to home such as providing transportation alternatives in Fairfield County, one of the most congested areas in Connecticut, and discussing ways to help poverty-stricken Bridgeport.
Democrat, Jim Himes says Congressman Shays often points to his 21 years of experience as a reason he should be re-elected but he questions what results Shays has achieved.
"The last eight years of government economic policy have been a disaster. Chris Shays voted for a series of budgets, and so-called tax cuts. They rased spending. Over the period of one administration, aided and abeded every step of the way by a congressman who went to congress to be fiscally responsible."
Throughout the debate Shays often pointed out his record in Congress by reciting page numbers from a booklet his Campaign created. He says his bi-partisanship approach has worked on important issues
"And its because what Barak Obama has talked about. About reaching out to both sides of the isle. And I would just like to make this argument: If Democrats love endangered species so much, why are they going after the only Republican still left in New England. But the greater concern is why are they going after one of the very few people who is unique because he is bi-partisan and not partisan?"
The state of the economy came up several times during the debate. Both candidates spoke about the need for better oversight and flexibility. But one of the most surprising statements of the night came from incumbent, Shays when he commented on who he thinks will most likely be leading the US through this fiscal crisis
"I think we are faced with such a crucial challenge that there has to be flexibility. I don't think you them coming back and forth to congress. Now, I'm saying this recognizing that its probably likely that Barak Obama will be the next president. Maybe not. Maybe it will be the person I support John McCain."
The latest poll by Survey USA has Himes leading Shays 48% to 45%.
Listen to the full debate from Fairfield University below.
For more coverage of Election '08, check out CPTV & WNPR's Democracy Project.
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