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Ellsworth says Coats once tried to stop global warming

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) Indiana's Democratic Senate candidate accused his Republican opponent Friday of working as a Washington lobbyist to support cap and trade legislation both have opposed as candidates.

Republican Dan Coats and Democrat Brad Ellsworth debated for the second time Friday night in their race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh.

They had a particularly testy exchange during a question about energy policy, even though both agreed there should be more investment in clean energy.

Ellsworth alleged Coats pushed for the cap and trade legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions during his former role as a lobbyist. He said the Republican was the one candidate of the three on stage who benefited financially after the law was proposed.

"Even though Mr. Coats comes back to Indiana and tells Hoosiers he's against the legislation and it would be devastating and a job killer, what if it would have passed, Mr. Coats?" Ellsworth said. "We would have put Americans and Hoosiers out of work based on your lobbying efforts."

Asking for rebuttal time to answer, Coats responded that Ellsworth was wrong but didn't elaborate. Instead, he repeated a theme from earlier in which he linked Ellsworth to such Democratic leaders as President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I can understand how somebody who went to Washington talking like a conservative back at home and following the agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama nearly 90 percent of the time ... wouldn't want to come home and talk about that, but would want to deflect it and center your campaign around slinging mud," Coats said.

Libertarian Rebecca Sink-Burris said she wasn't interested in "who was slinging mud about what and when."

"I think you can easily see that the old parties are not the answer," she said. "Both of the old parties have grown government."

That one question caught the mood of the entire debate as the Coats and Ellsworth didn't talk much about what separated them. Andrew Simmons of Fort Wayne, who works for the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana, told the candidates he is becoming more frustrated by the negative campaigning and asked why the don't focus more on what they support.

Coats replied that he tried to do that but was drawn into talking about his past by Ellsworth. He said he and Sink-Burris were trying to talk about important issues "without getting into the back-and-forth ping pong match about somebody's personal engagements."

Coats said the Obama administration was responsible for massive spending that is taking the country down the wrong track.

"We've got to change this," he said. "We've got to change direction. That's why I'm running. That's why I got into this race. I don't think what's happening in Washington is what is America."

Ellsworth agreed that the candidates need to talk about the issues but said what a person has done in life is a relevant issue.

"We can't just rewrite history," Ellsworth said. "We can't just say, 'My last 20 years or 30 years didn't exist. This isn't mudslinging, because people are making an important decision about who they are going to send to the Senate."

The debate was the second of three scheduled between the candidates. The final debate is Monday at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center at Vincennes University.

 

Posted 10/24/2010

 

 

 

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