Update (5:52PM by Jed) -- Closing statements:
- Halter: Tells story of 3 generations of a family that he saw at a pizza place. Says that family is struggling to get ahead, and that they deserve a Senator who will stand up for them and fight special interests and push to make sure Washington works for them. Focuses on support for higher education, Social Security, and restraining Wall Street.
- Lincoln: I'll stop being negative if Bill will stop being negative. I'll make tough choices and tough votes dammit! I took a tough vote in 1993 and it gave me a tough campaign but I voted that way dammit! Early voting begins on May 3, so I want to ask for your vote. I will always be predictable and stay true to the 3 things most important to me: my faith, my family, and Arkansas. (She's talking really fast...and as Joan points out, she seems mad that she's being challenged. Halter seems to have pissed her off.)
- Morrison: I'm for the national sales tax and against health care reform. I will cut the government. I will cut everything but national defense and border security. (Wondering when he's going to say he's endorsed by Glenn Beck?) Also, I think we need term limits.
Update (5:46PM by Jed) -- Attack ads:
- Lincoln: I don't want to be a part of negative attack campaigning, but they did it first, so I have to.
- Morrison: I've enjoyed the ads. (Of course, he's a Republican.) But I'm opposed to them.
- Halter: There are people claiming I support privatizing Social Security, but they won't say who they are. It's an outright lie, and FDR's grandson has backed me up. Lincoln's ads against me are dishonest smears. I've taken down a website that was too negative, and I hope Blanche will do the same.
Update (5:43PM by Jed) -- Social Security:
- Halter: I am a strong support of Social Security and Medicare, and oppose Republican attempts to privatize it. We need to strengthen the system and make sure it lasts.
- Lincoln: I am against social security privatization, but Halter supported investing a portion of SS surplus on Wall Street. (True, but so did Lincoln, and it wasn't privatization.)
- Morrison: A bunch of Fox News talking points about Social Security. China is paying Social Security. I'd fix Social Security by cutting federal spending.
Update (5:39PM by Joan) -- Lincoln is coming off like she just can't believe she's being primaried after all the work she's done back in Washington, DC. Who are these people holding me accountable?
Update (5:38PM by Jed) -- Barack Obama:
- Morrison: If I'm elected, I won't be working for Barack Obama, I'll be working for the people. (Did he mean the people of Fox News?)
- Halter: I'd work with Pres. Obama to help create jobs, eliminating tax incentives that move jobs overseas, expanding small loans, and expanding scholarships. Allow Arkansans to go to college tuition-free, so we can live up to our potential.
- Lincoln: "I'm glad to see Mr. Halter is back on his positive campaign." (Said with a bit of a nasty sneer.) I've spent a lot of time in Washington DC working to get things done, and I work with President Obama.
Update (5:35PM by Jed) -- Health care:
- Lincoln: I am glad I voted for it. I won't say anything about public option though.
- D.C. Morrison: Health care reform is a jobs killer. Federal government doesn't have power to force you to buy health insurance. And Americans are fat and lazy and smoke to much.
- Bill Halter: Health reform was good -- especially the ban on pre-existing conditions. But Blanche Lincoln took the bill in the wrong direction, by opposing the public option and the reconciliation side car. She's opposed President Obama on important issues with health care.
Update (5:31PM by Barb) -- D.C. Morrison must have gotten lost and meant to be at a GOP debate.
Update (5:30PM by Jed) -- TARP:
- Halter: I'd have voted against TARP, and I'd have voted against deregulating Wall Street in the first place. Lincoln should return her Goldman Sachs contributions -- "unseemly" to keep their money given that they wrecked economy.
- Lincoln: I won't take anymore Goldman money, but the money I took hasn't helped them. I am reforming derivative markets. I am a Senator getting things done, darnit! If I'd been chairman of Ag committee for longer, I'd have done more.
- Morrison: Financial meltdown began when banks were "coerced" to give subprime loans. (He's talking about community reinvestment act and proving he watches nothing but Fox News.)
Update (5:27PM by Jed) -- On budget deficit:
- D.C. Morrison: We have to get federal spending under control. We can't steal from our children. (He narrowly survives a bug attack.)
- Bill Halter: I worked in White House Budget Office, and we left with a surplus. I'm proud of that. We need to retrain and prioritize spending, but we also need to grow the economy to balance the budget. We've proved we can do it and will do it again.
- Blanche Lincoln: I support a balanced budget amendment, and I helped create the Blue Dog Democrats in order to balance the budget. Yeah, get it: I helped start the Blue Dogs. Blame me! I have even supported bipartisan debt commissions.
Update (5:23PM by Jed) -- Will you support a progressive SCOTUS nominee:
- Blanche Lincoln: Judicial activism isn't appropriate. Implement rule of law as it has been written. I don't have a "political aspect."
- D.C. Morrison: I would vote for judges that would abide by Constitution. I would oppose a judge I even suspected of being pro-choice with every ounce of strength that I have.
- Bill Halter: We need impartial, fair-minded judges who adhere to Constitution. We need judges that represent the broad diversity of Arkansas.
Update (5:20PM by Jed) -- On EFCA:
- Bill Halter: Card-check is off the table, but I support getting EFCA passed. Lincoln has flip-flopped.
- Blanche Lincoln: I don't know what the current legislation says, but I support jobs. Oh, and I don't support the legislation as it is written. We need to be working on the economy instead.
- D.C. Morrison: I like to listen to elders, like George McGovern. (Yeah, right!) McGovern is against card-check, so I'm against it too. (He doesn't deal with fact that card-check is off the table.)
Update (5:17PM by Jed) -- On the Democratic Party:
- D.C. Morrison: I was born a Democrat, but I hate all Democrats in D.C. today.
- Bill Halter: I am proud to be a Democrat, and proud that Democrats have fought for the families of this nation.
- Blanche Lincoln: I'm proud to be an Arkansas Democrat, and we have a wide tent.
Update (5:13PM by Jed) -- Cap-and-trade question:
- Blanche Lincoln: I don't support climate change legislation.
- D.C. Morrison: Climate change is a hoax.
- Bill Halter: I don't support bill as it is, but believe we need to get something done that's fair to Arkansas and achieves energy independence.
Update (5:10PM by Jed) -- Opening statement recap:
- Bill Halter: I'm against Washington, DC and the special interests that have stopped government from helping middle-class families.
- Blanche Lincoln: Nobody likes me, so I must be doing a good job.
- D.C. Morrison: I'm against all Democrats! (Seriously, he proposed abolishing IRS and putting in place a national sales tax and says global warming is a hoax.)
Tonight marks the first of three scheduled debates among Arkansas' Democratic primary candidates for the U.S. Senate, with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter facing off against the incumbent, Blanche Lincoln, along with conservadem D.C. Morrison.
The bottom line about this race?
Lincoln is still a failed politician, hated by her state. Independents rate her at 41/57/2. Halter has a 46/30/24 favorability rating among independents. Boozman, the most likely Republican nominee, is at 45/29/26 with the indies.
Lincoln doesn't stand a chance in the general with numbers like that. Halter remains the most popular politician in this race, more so than the probably Republican nominee, and is essentially tied among independents with Boozman.
If we want to win this thing in November, our best chance is still with Halter.
And keep in mind:
Arkansas requires 50+1 percent to win. If no candidate gets an outright majority, there will be a runoff three weeks later. Right now, Lincoln is still far from 50 percent, and while Halter may not have gained significant ground the last two weeks, the underlying fundamentals are still in his favor -- undecideds almost always break against the incumbent.
Watch the debate live on C-SPAN.org, and share your reactions and thoughts in the comments.