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Senate candidates debate in Billings

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Oct 08 2012 11:08:12 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2012 12:29:38 AM MDT
Senate candidates debate in Billings
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg exchanged sharp words in Billings Monday night in their first debate in more than three months.

The debate was heated and personal with each candidate dishing out and responding to attacks.

Rehberg used every opportunity to tie Tester to President Barack Obama saying that Tester voted with the President 95 percent of the time and that this brought failed policies on health care, taxes, business regulation and other issues.

Tester continually argued back that the Congressman is running against him and not President Obama.

“They've tried to morph me into Barack Obama. Let me tell you Barack Obama doesn't want to see the XL Pipeline built, I do. Barack Obama didn't see wolves delisted, I got them delisted. Barack Obama wanted to see the bailouts, I voted against the bailouts.”

The popular topics in tonight’s debate were health care, taxes, and the environment.

Rehberg said his number one goal is to preserve and protect Medicare for those who are on it. “You don't do it by taking $716 billion out of Medicare and hope that you're going to solve the issue or solve the problem.”

Tester said Medicare is an important safety net for seniors. “It works for our seniors and we ought not be destroying it and quite frankly you have not stepped forth with ideas in how to make Medicare solvent for the future,” said Tester turning towards Rehberg.

The Montana Senate race is one of the tightest and most-watched races in the country as Republicans and Democrats parties vie for control of the chamber.

There is a third-party candidate, who did not attend the debate tonight; Dan Cox from Hamilton is running as a Libertarian.