DENVER – Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck of Colorado fired back Sunday at claims from Democrats that he has shifted to the center in his contest to unseat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Buck said in a debate with Bennet on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "it's not fair" how Democrats have accused him of abandoning far-right positions in hopes of appealing to moderate voters.
When asked about conflicting opinions on topics such as Colorado's ballot measure to outlaw abortion and proposals to end direct election of senators, Buck accused Democrats of digging for misleading "gotcha" moments using tape recorded by a Democratic "tracker" over months of primary campaigning.
"It is easy when you have a tracker, and you have 100 examples of answers, to use a tape that shows a slight deviation in the answer," Buck said. "It's not fair."
Buck added that voters are more interested in hearing from candidates who aren't overly scripted, even if the candidates put their foot in their mouth at times, as Buck has done.
"People are sick and tired of politicians not answering questions, of not being accessible," he said.
Bennet defended his use of Buck clips in campaign ads, saying, "The flip-flops in this race are unbelievable."
Host David Gregory asked Buck about extremist elements in the tea party movement, including racism, and Buck said he hasn't seen those elements in Colorado tea party groups. Bennet chimed in, agreeing with Buck: "I haven't seen a lot of that either," he said.
Bennet was asked about President Barack Obama, who campaigned for Bennet in Colorado earlier this year and praised the Democrat for supporting the $814 billion economic stimulus bill.
As in other states, the stimulus bill and federal spending has figured largely into GOP attempts to unseat Democratic incumbents.
The Colorado Senate contest, considered a neck-and-neck race that could determine which party controls the Senate next year, has attracted more than $16 million in out-of-state campaign money.
Bennet defended his vote for the stimulus.
"That stimulus package saved us from going into the second Great Depression," he said.
Bennet also said, "It's clear that the recovery package has grown the GDP somewhat and saved thousands and thousands of jobs in my home state."
The debate turned back to social questions when Gregory asked Buck to elaborate on a statement he made in an earlier debate about gays in the military.
Buck said he believes sexual orientation is a choice, but went on to say, "I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you have a choice."
Bennet disagreed but didn't elaborate.
The "Meet The Press" debate was the Colorado candidates' sixth and they meet one more time before Election Day. Early voting in Colorado starts Monday.
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