Branson, MO – Secretary of State Jason Kander, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, demonstrated the stark contrast between his vision for a new generation of leadership and incumbent Republican Senator Roy Blunt’s 20 years defending the status quo in Washington at a recent debate here hosted by the Missouri Press Association.
Kander has also accepted two more debates, one in St. Louis and one in Kansas City. Senator Blunt has yet to accept any more debates.
Here are excerpts of the results from some of Missouri’s leading newspapers:
The Kansas City Star:
Senate candidate Jason Kander argued for a “generational” change in Missouri’s representation in Washington during a debate here Friday.
Kander, 35, is facing incumbent Republican Roy Blunt, who is 66.
Blunt spoke in more general terms, while Kander seemed interested in engaging his opponent more directly.
“After 20 years in Washington, he’s changed,” Kander said of Blunt.
Kander criticized Blunt and his colleagues for taking too much time off this year. The government was unable to pass emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, he said, because senators were “too busy taking seven weeks off.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: the bill has not yet been approved.)
The incumbent Republican called discussion of taxpayer support for free college tuition “foolish.” Kander said free tuition would be “too expensive,” but said the government could help students refinance student debt.
Kander also accused Blunt of cutting grants to college students, then endorsing restoration of the funds. Kander criticized Blunt for saying students’ “lifestyles” have added to their debt burdens…
Kander noted that Blunt voted to cut Pell Grant funding five years ago and that Blunt's more recent vote merely restored the cuts.
"Senator, somebody who sets a fire and puts it out is not a fireman, you're an arsonist," Kander said.
The Joplin Globe:
…winner of the Missouri senator seat could affect the direction of the nation for years to come.
“Washington is broken, and we are not going to change Washington until we change the people we send there,” Kander, a Democrat, said in his opening statement. “The time has come for the next generation to step up and take the lead in changing the direction of our state and of our nation.
One of the first questions asked was about how the senator would handle Supreme Court nominations. Several Republican senators, including Blunt, have refused to meet with President Barack Obama’s selection to replace Judge Antonin Scalia. The next member of the court could swing the current panel's gridlock.
“When I was in Afghanistan, there were meetings that I didn’t want to go to in dangerous places,” Kander said. “But I went to those meetings because it’s my job.”
Kander said he would not make college free for students and would work to give students the option to refinance their student loans and cap their interest. He castigated Blunt for saying in June of last year that high student debt is due to spending habits and lifestyles.
“Senator, somebody who sets a fire and then puts it out is not a fireman, they’re an arsonist,” Kander said, saying Blunt had voted to cut funding to the Pell grants in the first place.
“For 20 years, Sen. Blunt has been protecting the status quo, because the status quo has been great for him, his family and his special interest donors,” Kander said.