Senate candidates shift toward center at chamber forum

KUSA - Both major party candidates in the race for U.S. Senate tacked towards bipartisanship during the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Monday.

Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) repeatedly referenced Republican senators he’s worked with to pass legislation.

While his Republican challenger, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, talked about bringing people together and his respect for “all people, all religions, all walks of life.”

Both candidates need unaffiliated voters if they want to win. Colorado’s party registration is evenly split with roughly one third Democrats, one third Republicans and one third unaffiliated.

That’s one of the reasons the Centennial State is a bellwether for the nation. If Republicans could pick up this seat, they could tighten their hold on the Senate or potentially block a Democratic takeover.

Bennet currently leads in the polls and the amount of money left to spend.

Glenn’s inclusive language is different from the message he pushed during the primary. During the 9NEWS Republican debate, he declined to name a Democrat he got along with.

And he repeatedly gave interviews where he said bipartisanship won’t solve Washington’s problems.

But Glenn told the listeners at Monday’s forum that he wants “to be able to bring us together,” and “to be a part of the solution and not the problem.”

One problem Glenn sees in Washington is the Affordable Care Act.

He appreciates the “noble objectives” that pushed the 2010 bill through Congress, but thinks it’s “fundamentally wrong” to force people to buy insurance.

He’d keep the ban on barring people from coverage for pre-existing conditions and add health savings accounts, tort reform and remove the prohibition on buying insurance across state lines.

Bennet supports the Affordable Care Act, but thinks it needs improvement.

“The fundamental problem in our health care system is, nobody knows what anything costs,” Bennet said. “I think repealing the health care bill is just going to unravel the good things without dealing with the chronic problems that we have.”

Glenn, on the other hand, wants to start over.

The two major party candidates also diverged on raising the minimum wage.

Coloradans will vote this November on Amendment 70, which would gradually raise the state minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020.

Bennet supports the amendment, but Glenn said it would hurt the people the measure tries to help.

“It's a feel-good policy,” Glenn said. “But it’s actually going to make the situation worse.”

Both men oppose the trade deal President Barack Obama negotiated call the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

And both agreed upon the importance of increasing workforce development efforts in Colorado.

Bennet talked about a bill he co-sponsored with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) that would let people use Pell Grants for technical training.

Glenn, however, was vaguer on the details.

He said he would facilitate discussions between local politicians and business to develop plans from the “ground up.”

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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