MERRIMACK — Two of the three Republican frontrunners for the U.S. Senate faced off in a respectful debate Wednesday, each of them touting their political careers and promoting a need for change.
Jim Rubens and Bob Smith participated in the Merrimack Business Association’s debate for the Republican U.S. Senate candidates, although Scott Brown did not attend.
“It is too bad we can’t all be here,” said Rubens. Despite Brown’s decision not to participate, he has committed to attending at least four primary debates in the coming months.
Smith contended that all of the candidates should be in attendance, so that voters can see them in action and watch them answer questions.
Rubens and Smith tended to agree on most issues addressed during Wednesday’s forum, including their opposition to cap and trade, opposition to the Shaheen-Portman energy bill, support of a simplified tax code, repeal of the Affordable Care Act and reducing regulations that burden American businesses.
“Our country is in very difficult circumstances right now,” said Rubens, adding the nation is bankrupt, the economy doesn’t work and the government is overreaching. Rubens said Americans are ready for a change, and in order to begin implementing change, a Republican must be elected to replace U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Smith mentioned his 18-year record in Congress, saying he knows how to defeat the left.
“We must be able to face these people, take them on — one on one — and defeat them,” said Smith, describing himself as a platform Republican who has grassroots support and is consistent on the issues.
Rubens maintained that he is not a career politician, but has served in public life for 20 years, including time as a state senator.
“I am uniting the entire Republican party,” said Rubens, adding he will bring positive and bold solutions to the table.
In speaking about the Affordable Care Act, Rubens referred to Obamacare as damaging, stressing it must be repealed and replaced, and the matter of preexisting conditions must be addressed. He proposes the use of community clinics, the creation of a legal system for long-term health insurance and an increase in catastrophic health insurance, among other initiatives.
In regard to import and export laws, Smith said the U.S. has become a “service nation” where it is failing to manufacture products, while playing games with China. This country can compete in a free market, but it must be fair, according to Smith.
Currently, the rules are not fair, he said, proposing deregulation, a reduction of corporate taxes and an elimination of the capital gains tax.
When questioned about raising the federal minimum wage, Smith said the federal government should not have a say in how much money an employer wants to pay his or her workers.
While Rubens said there are 100 U.S. Senators serving the nation, with two in New Hampshire, he noted one is a “placeholder,” adding he will offer a viable alternative.
Meanwhile, Smith maintained that he is the only true conservative in the race.