Sen. Lincoln, Rep. Boozman face off in Hot Springs forum

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 48 views 

Leading U.S. Senate candidates Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Cong. John Boozman, met face-to-face at a forum of statewide county elected officials in Hot Springs.

Roby Brock at, a content partner with The City Wire, filed the following report.

Lincoln, the Democratic Senate nominee, Boozman, the GOP candidate, fielded questions from the audience of county officers. KARK’s Lauren Trager moderated the event.

In their opening statements, the two candidates expressed their collegiality and respect for each other. Lincoln said that she always thought Boozman was a "very nice guy."  "And guess what, I still do," she said.

Lincoln complimented the audience of county officials calling them "partners" and saying she would work hard to bring as much federal money as possible to Arkansas. She called earmarks "the great equalizer" and said that the process for obtaining them is transparent. Lincoln said that Boozman had changed his approach to earmarks in this election year and said she would be a better protector for Social Security.

"My job is to fight for you," said Lincoln. "I promise that I will always be in there fighting for you."

Boozman touted his constituent service credentials to the crowd. "Past performance is indicative of future performance," he noted.  He took issue with Lincoln’s assertion that he wouldn’t protect Social Security.

Boozman said he would not support cuts to Social Security.

"Over my dead body," Boozman said. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

He said he understands the importance of the program to the elderly citing his 88-year old mother’s dependence on Social Security. When asked about the impact of health care reform on county government, Boozman said the new law will harm the Arkansas economy and cause costs to rise for county budgets.

"I think it will result in cost increases, no doubt," said Boozman. "Nothing in this bill controls costs."

Boozman also contended that health care reform would hurt rural, community hospitals.  That, he said, would harm economic development without a strong hospital presence.

"In a situation where the economy is so fragile, why do you do these things?" Boozman asked rhetorically.

Lincoln countered that the health care bill is not perfect, but it does address rising costs and insurance availability.

"I would take issue with Congressman Boozman. Quality of rural health care is one of the critical things I’ve worked on." She said Boozman’s math is wrong and that health care reform adds 12 years of solvency to the nation’s Medicare system and would specifically help rural hospitals in Arkansas.

Overall, Lincoln and Boozman advocated more local control on many of the issues. Lincoln touted her credentials that she’d fight and bring more money to Arkansas for that purpose. Boozman supported more bureaucratic reforms of federal programs in pushing for more local control.

In closing comments, Boozman brought up earmarks again. He said the moratorium on earmarks supported by national Republican leadership is a matter of "belt tightening.” He said the nation has to do more to get federal spending and the U.S. debt under control. Boozman supported the GOP’s earmark moratorium to better define earmarks and to weed out wasteful projects. He also said he supports a line-item veto for the President.

Lincoln ended the forum with a push for the clout her position as the Senate Agriculture chairmanship.

"I’m a problem solver and I like getting results," Lincoln said.

"Creating jobs must be our Number One priority," she said, while rattling off a litany of policy issues she has pursued on the jobs front. "My opponent John Boozman is on the wrong side of these priorities," Lincoln closed. "I’m an independent voice for Arkansas."

Link here for more details from Brock on the Lincoln-Boozman debate.