New Mexico’s U.S. Senate candidates, Democratic incumbent Tom Udall and Republican challenger Allen Weh, stepped up their attacks in a second and final televised debate Friday.
The candidates targeted each other’s worldview as bad for New Mexico in the hourlong debate aired live on KOB-TV.
Udall called Weh a multimillionaire CEO, saying his primary interest in Congress would be protecting the interests of other wealthy corporate executives.
“He’s on the side of the millionaires and the wealthy, and protecting the special interests, and I’m on the side of fighting for middle-class families,” Udall said.
Weh rejected that claim. He said that although he has been a successful businessman, his working-class upbringing motivates him to advocate for policies to help others become successful.
“I side with the people,” Weh said when asked if he would “side with millionaires” in Washington. “I came from nothing and I achieved the American dream. And I want everyone to achieve the American dream … You do that by growing your economy.”
Weh cast Udall as a liberal and reckless career politician beholden to runaway federal spending that has led to an $18 trillion national debt.
“Tom is a consummate liberal who thinks government is the solution for everything,” Weh charged. “And I think government ought to do that which the Founding Fathers intended it to do and do it well. Now, government tries to do everything, and guess what, they can’t do anything right.”
Udall countered that his support of federal programs is aimed at better serving New Mexico’s communities. He tried to turn the tables by saying Weh’s push toward slimming government would mean cuts to critical government work.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the policies that he (Weh) is putting forward would hurt Social Security and Medicare,” Udall said. “I think our senior citizens here in New Mexico really rely on those programs, probably a lot more than many other states.”
Weh said he has not called for cuts to Social Security and Medicare. He said Udall misrepresented his views.
Udall made an effort to distinguish their leadership styles, saying he has a record of bringing people to the table to solve problems. Udall said Weh would prefer “to be weighing in on one side, and throwing bombs and stirring things up.”
Weh responded: “I’m not throwing bombs, but I’m going to fix the government when it’s on people’s backs.”
Late in the debate, Weh corrected Udall after the senator said Weh had worked as President George W. Bush’s campaign manager in New Mexico for the 2004 re-election campaign.
“What are you smoking, Tom?” asked Weh, who was chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico in 2004.