Heinrich, Wilson clash during debate

Posted at: 10/25/2012 9:51 PM
Updated at: 10/25/2012 10:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The two major party candidates for the United States Senate clashed Thursday night in a wide ranging debate on KOB Eyewitness News 4.

Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Martin Heinrich squared off at Sandia High School for a solid hour.

Education, energy, the environment and immigration - you name it, they disagreed on it.

Even tacos became an issue. Yes tacos, as in the New Mexico Air National Guard's legendary fighter plane squadron that the Pentagon disbanded sending the unit's F16's to Vermont.

"You lost the air craft of the air guard here in New Mexico," Wilson said. "We now have the smallest air guard of any state except Guam. I think we can do better and I intent to in the U.S. Senate."

"There were 1,000 people working at the 150th Air Guard and there are 1,000 people out there working today," Heinrich responded. "They have a job because I stepped up and found them a new mission."

Then it was another order of tacos of so-called 'Obamacare,' with Wilson blaming mandatory employee insurance coverage for hurting a Farmington woman's business.

"This is a woman who own a small business with 75 employees and she's kept them in a tough economic time," Wilson said. "She's got to layoff 26 people or put them back to part time because of the healthcare act that you passed because there's not enough profit in a .99 cent taco."

"Well, I think small business is critical, but so is people's healthcare, " Heinrich said. "People should have access to healthcare and if that means I have to pay $1.10 for a taco instead of .99 cents, then I'm paying $1.10 for a taco."

The two clashed Social Security, Medicare, oil and gas subsidies and renewable energy, but much of the debate kept returning to taxes and spending.

"We're going to have to weather some challenging cuts in the future because spending is too high," Heinrich said. "But we're also going to have to increase revenue and I think its fair to ask people to at the very upper income levels to shoulder the same responsibility that middle class families shoulder today."

Wilson responded addressing her opponent directly: "It is amazing to me Congressman Heinrich that you can stand here having voted for trillion dollar deficits for the last four years - the largest, fastest debt increase in American history, and say that we have to control spending - you've done nothing to control spending."

Heinrich and Wilson did find something to agree on. They said the cost of a college education is too high and growing too fast and Federal Pell Grants for college students are a good thing.

The two along with Independent candidate Jon Barrie are vying for the Senate seat being left vacant by retiring veteran lawmaker Jeff Bingaman.

Watch the entire debate here.