Skip to comments.Democrats hold first televised debate in Marquette (Blanchard vs Granholm vs Bonior)
Posted on 07/18/2002 4:18:31 PM PDT by Dan from Michigan
Democrats hold first televised debate in Marquette
By KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN
The Associated Press
7/18/02 3:51 PM
MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) -- The three Democratic candidates for governor held a heated debate Thursday in their first televised meeting.
The hour-long verbal matchup at Northern Michigan University was one of two for the Democratic candidates before the Aug. 6 primary. All three aggressively challenged their opponents, shaking fingers at each other at times and raising their voices on more than one occasion.
Former Gov. James Blanchard and U.S. Rep. David Bonior both accused Attorney General Jennifer Granholm of working too closely with Republican Gov. John Engler during her four years in office.
"You voted with him 16,000 times," Bonior said, referring to Granholm's votes on the state administrative board, an obscure but powerful entity that reviews state contracts.
Bonior said Granholm should have stood up more often for Democratic values by opposing some of the contracts, particularly a no-bid contract for a state computer system that tracks child support payments whose cost eventually grew to $141.5 million.
"She isn't her own person," he said. "She takes the same position on contracts that were signed" for Detroit Metropolitan Airport while she was Wayne County's top lawyer from 1995-98. Audits have raised questions about contract and bidding irregularities at the airport during that period.
Blanchard also chided Granholm for her administrative board votes, saying she should have voted against some of the contracts.
"You've been the rubber stamp for Engler the same way you were for (Wayne County Executive Ed) McNamara," Blanchard said.
Granholm replied that the attorney general's role on the administrative board is not to oppose contracts for philosophical reasons, but because they failed to meet legal requirements.
She added that she has excellent Democratic credentials and has proved it during her term as attorney general by going after nursing home abuse, Internet predators preying on children and gas stations that engaged in price gouging after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"This is just a red herring," she said of the criticism. "The object here is to take apart the person who's in first place."
Blanchard and Granholm also had a heated exchange over her abortion rights record.
Blanchard says he's the only candidate to unequivocally support a woman's right to an abortion, and accused Granholm of waffling on the issue. She denied the charge.
"I know you are trying to out-choice me," Granholm said. She added later, "He's in a position in the race where he feels he has to take women's votes away from me."
She asked Blanchard to have an ad taken off the air that says she has shown she doesn't support abortion rights.
It cites as examples an opinion she issued as attorney general that restricted the use of the RU-486 abortion pill and an intervention by the state in a case dealing with state laws to ban certain types of abortions.
The ad began airing Thursday in Detroit and was paid for by Citizens for Responsible Leadership, and independent political action committee that is raising and spending money on Blanchard's behalf.
"Your committee takes out ads that say I'm not 100 percent pro-choice, and that's a lie," Granholm said.
"Your ad on abortion is misleading and false," shot back Blanchard, referring to a Granholm campaign ad promoting her as an abortion rights supporter.
Bonior, who stayed out of the heated exchange, said he opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. But he added that he also has supported government funding for family planning and supports the use of the RU-486 abortion pill.
Tim Skubick, host of public television's "Off the Record" program, moderated the freewheeling debate, which will be broadcast on public television stations statewide at 9 p.m. Friday.
At times, the barbs got personal.
As Granholm was explaining the attorney general's role on the administrative board, Bonior said, "I served in the Legislature for four years. You don't have to lecture me on how state government works."
At another point, when Blanchard tried to say he knew what the attorney general's role was since he'd worked as an assistant attorney general for 4½ years, Granholm said, "He was (former Attorney General) Frank Kelley's driver."
Shot back Blanchard, "I wish I had been his driver because I would have had more power."
Granholm accused her opponents of bypassing campaign spending limits by having independent political action committees raise money and run ads on their behalf.
"You took a million dollars of public (matching) money with the promise you would abide by spending limits," which are $1.9 million in the primary, she told Bonior.
She said it was hypocritical for him to say she violated the spirit of campaign finance laws by not accepting public money or spending limits. Granholm is expected to file reports later this month showing she has raised more than $4 million for her primary election campaign.
The second Democratic debate will take place at WXYZ-TV in Southfield and air live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday. It also will be broadcast on WOTV-TV in Battle Creek, WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids and two Detroit radio stations.
The GOP candidates for governor -- Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus of Alto and Sen. John Schwarz of Battle Creek -- already have debated twice. The third and final GOP debate is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday in Petoskey.
Granholm is a Klinton wannabe.
As for Bonior, he is NOT pro-gun. He's a GUN GRABBER with a 20 year voting record. He's not pro-life either. He says he is, but voted 50% on the issue.
Granholm is a Klinton wannabe.
I am ignorant about MI politics. I only hope that there's a good Republican candidate in the race. What I do know is that Bonior is one mean-ass distasteful creep who certainly doesn't have the best interests of this country at heart.
Posthumus has a rough last name, but I actually think he can win, especially if Grandstand loses in the primary. It'll take a LOT of work though.
I think this is the only think I like about Bonior. But you almost never heard of his pro-life stance in the US House.