UNION TWP., Ohio - As Republican incumbent Jean Schmidt and her Democratic challenger Surya Yalamanchili began their debate Tuesday night, each spent time outlining their legislative philosophies.
Yalamanchili has described himself as a strong "free market" candidate and the first question of the night sought to determine if he would remain a Democrat if elected.
"Both parties have failed America," began Yalamanchili.
"They've gotten away with a magical scam that both go to Washington and they agree to burn the place down to keep themselves warm and to line their pockets," said the political newcomer. "After that they agree on election day and say that it was the other guy's fault."
Schmidt said there is a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats.
"I'm not going to say we were any Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts when Republicans had control. Quite frankly I wasn't there for a majority of that," Schmidt said to her opponent's contention that those in Washington are catering to special interests.
"I will say this, since the Democrats have taken control our spending has gotten out of control. Sixty-two percent of our GDP is going to go to paying off our debt this year alone," said Schmidt.
Debate time 7:30 PM:
At roughly the halfway mark the debate grew testy as Schmidt painted Yalamanchili as a democrat akin to those in Washington. Yalamanchili sought to maintain his image as an independent thinker.
Referring to her constituents needs, Schmidt defended her position in congress.
"They want us to put things in place that will grow our economy and allow them to have a job and keep the job that they have. That's what the folks in this district want and that's what I'm trying to accomplish in Washington," said Schmidt.
"You know you're right we haven't moved the needle," Schmidt said referring to a question about the economy, "but it's not because of me because I fought to move that needle forward. I fought to put provisions in that would allow people to invest in America so that we could have jobs unfortunately I'm in the minority."
"But until the other side listens nothing is going to change," Schmidt finished.
"I think you heard it all right there in 'his side' I'm on your side," Yalamanchili fired back in his rebuttal.
"That's the only side that matters to me, that is the only side," Yalamanchili continued.
Partisans began to applaud after his response but were quickly reminded by the moderator Clyde Gray that it violated the rules of the debate.
"I'm not on the Democratic party's side, I'm not on the Republican party's side, the only person's side I'm on are the voters of the 2nd district," Yalamanchili said.
Debate time 7:50 PM:
The final question of the night posed by 9 News reporter Tom Mckee asked the candidates how they would approach cuts to military spending given the deficit and to also define their views on the war in Afghanistan.
"The job of the American military is not to nation build and I think when you talk about where to cut spending we've way overreached in terms of our military policy when we are building up other nations when we know our own nation is falling apart," said Yalamanchili.
"I'm very reluctant to cut defense spending at this time unless I find where it is wasteful or unnecessary but having said that you also asked about the war in Afghanistan. You know one of the things I agree with the president on is this strategy, the Patraeus strategy, because it has worked in Iraq," said Schmidt.
Throughout the course of the debate, neither candidate slipped noticeably and neither strayed from their respective message.
With seven days until the election, it now rests with the two campaigns to mobilize support for November 2.
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