LAKE OZARK, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri's leading Senate candidates clashed Friday over the economy, with Republican Roy Blunt calling the economic stimulus "a huge waste of money" that benefited a business run by Democratic hopeful Robin Carnahan's brother.
Carnahan said the stimulus had nothing to do with her brother's wind farm and added that it's odd Blunt would criticize someone creating jobs in Missouri.
The verbal jabs at the candidates' second debate in as many days largely repeated attacks from the first debate and a barrage of negative TV commercials.
Carnahan, Missouri's secretary of state, asserted the Republican congressman from southwest Missouri has offered special deals to lobbyists and campaign contributors. Blunt accused Carnahan of getting her facts wrong.
The debate was sponsored by the Missouri Press Association and is the last scheduled forum before Election Day. It focused on topics such as the economy, health care and jobs.
Also participating in the debate were Libertarian Jonathan Dine and Constitution Party candidate Jerry Beck. The candidates are seeking to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.
Much of the debate was dominated by barbs exchanged between Carnahan and Blunt, of which many followed the attack lines from critical ads that have aired through the campaign. Both agreed, however, that boosting economic development and promoting job growth were priorities.
Carnahan criticized Blunt for his role in a 2008 bill bailing out troubled financial institutions, suggesting that it demonstrated a willingness to help Wall Street more than ordinary people.
"Congressman Blunt time and again is on the side of Wall Street. He can figure out every rational to give bailouts to Wall Street, he can say that it was great that it helped our economy -- he's said it over and over again," Carnahan said. "But as I travel around our state, it hasn't helped. It hasn't delivered as promised."
Blunt defended the financial legislation, noting that much of the money already has been repaid. He contrasted the bailout with the 2009 federal stimulus package, which Blunt described as a "huge mistake" and a "huge waste of money." Blunt said the stimulus is not helping the economy but has assisted a business run by Carnahan's brother, whose firm received $107 million from the stimulus package.
"It didn't have the impact on the economy that the president promised, and we should have known from day one that it wouldn't' have. Now it had a good impact on Robin Carnahan's brother's wind farm," Blunt said.
Carnahan responded that she had nothing to do with her brother's business.
The federal government previously has provided tax incentives to boost renewable energy. The stimulus package offered cash payments instead of tax credits for wind-energy projects. The U.S. Treasury Department has said it had no discretion in deciding who qualified.
Carnahan largely was the aggressor. Polls have shown her to be trailing, and campaign finance records show that Blunt had $3.7 million available at the start of October compared to Carnahan's $2.1 million.
Sparks also flew over government spending and earmarks, in which members of Congress can get federal funding for specific projects.
Carnahan accused Blunt of helping insert money into a spending bill for a California company, which later contributed money to Blunt's political action committee and allowed him to fly on a corporate plane. Carnahan said earmarks have become a "wasteful corrupted process" that has "gotten completely out of control under Congressman Blunt's watch."
Her allegation refers to an earmark for a defense contractor that was linked to bribery scandal. Blunt has denied having any role in the earmark. He said Friday that he paid for his seat on the airplane while fundraising for some California candidates for Congress, that the defense spending bill passed by a huge margin and that Carnahan's mother voted for the legislation while serving in the U.S. Senate.
Blunt said that he has tried to support the smallest federal budgets proposed in Congress.
The two leading candidates also battled over Social Security and Medicare.
Carnahan asserted that Blunt opposed Medicare health care programs for seniors and supported attempts to privatize Social Security. Blunt denied both charges while expressing support for the government programs.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)