Senate candidates clash in final debate
From its outset, Thursday’s debate between U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega and incumbent John Cornyn was an attack by both parties on each other.
When asked if the more from Texas Representative to Senator was too great, Democrat Noriega said he is ready to represent the people.
"I don’t feel that putting Wall Street before Texas families is right," he said.
Republican Cornyn accused Noriega of advocating higher spending and not explaining how to pay for said costs. Noriega called himself a "pay-as-you-go politician."
While both addressed the need for accountability on Wall Street, Noriega took his plan a step further by suggesting government regulation.
"There is a lack of trust between Washington and the people," Noriega said.
Cornyn responded with sentiments that Noriega, although hasty to address the economic problems, failed to present any solutions.
"Noriega’s rhetoric sounds like Washington. We need to work together in a bipartisan way," Cornyn said.
On the issue of higher education, Noriega, a UH alumnus, stressed the importance of every Texan having the opportunity to attend college. He proposed a plan for universities to reward students who perform public services with grants and scholarships to address the increasing cost of tuition.
Cornyn referred to education as "the key that unlocks the door to opportunity," and defended No Child Left Behind as well-intentioned, but in need of reform. He suggested an A-Plus Program that "would better adapt to the needs and abilities of individual students."
Cornyn referenced his education plan as a means to more job opportunities, while Noriega proposed giving tangible benefits to the middle class to stimulate the economy and accused Cornyn of offering tax breaks to big companies that tend to send jobs overseas.
"The difference between Sen. Cornyn and myself is that we see different ways to stimulate the economy," he said.
On the topic of energy, Cornyn fortified his stance on drilling in places known to have oil, such as Alaska, which Noriega opposes.
"Texas is a leader in wind and solar energy. We need to be less dependent on oil," he said.
Cornyn and Noriega stood together on a stance to prosecute businesses that knowingly employ illegal workers. However, both faltered in their responses to the final question, which asked what their personal actions would be if put in the position of a homeowner whose house was severely in need of repair, and the workers were almost entirely undocumented.
"Do you continue with the repairs or notify immigration?" the moderator said.
Upon faltering, both parties were interrupted and asked, "What would you do?" Neither had a direct answer.
The debate is available online at www.texasdebates.com and early voting begins Monday.