Democratic Senate candidate Amanda Curtis aggressively attacked her Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Daines, throughout their first debate Monday, while Daines mostly ignored her jabs and turned his criticism instead to President Barack Obama.
It was the first debate between the two candidates and came just 15 days before the Nov. 4 election. Libertarian candidate Roger Roots was not invited to the debate.
Another debate is set for Sidney on Tuesday.
The debate Monday night was at Petro Hall on the campus of Montana State University Billings and sponsored by the Billings Gazette, Yellowstone Public Radio and Montana Television Network and the university. It was broadcast statewide on television and radio and carried nationally on C-SPAN 2.
In virtually every answer to questions, Curtis, a first-term state legislator from Butte, criticized Daines as “the most extreme congressman we’ve ever had” or someone who looks after the largest corporations and wealthiest Americans.
Over and over again, Curtis reminded the crowd of nearly 500 people that she is “one of us.” She said she is running for the Senate “to prove that you do not have to be a silver-spoon-fed politician to represent working families.”
Daines, a first-term congressman from Bozeman, at first rarely responded to her criticism, but instead blamed Obama for many of the nation’s problems and vowed to find Montana-made solutions, not those from Washington to improve the economy here. Daines repeatedly touted his 28-year experience of creating jobs in the private sector.
When it came to ratings from the National Rifle Association, Daines said he received an “A-plus” grade, the highest mark any Montanan candidate has received, and pointed out that Curtis had received an “F,” the lowest of any Montana candidate in history.
“I think it illustrates her extreme position,” Daines said.
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