Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Brian Moss on Tuesday challenged Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to a debate on education, saying a face-to-face meet is needed to clear up charges and countercharges between their campaigns on the issue.
That follows two days of both campaigns accusing the other of deceiving Utahns about who is really stronger on education.It started Monday when Moss called a press conference to say Hatch continually votes against better funding for important education programs while wasting money on "his right-wing national agenda."
Moss said his staff came up with a list of 23 votes on education funding, and Hatch voted "wrong" on 17 of them. Most of those "wrong" votes opposed increased federal funding for programs for the disadvantaged, such as for Title I, Head Start and after-school child care. Other votes opposed increased money for Pell grants for college students and for vocational-education programs.
Meanwhile, Moss said his researchers found that Hatch voted to "waste" money on such programs funding the T-46 airplane trainer program, which he said even the Air Force did not want; voted against reducing the deduction for "three-martini lunches"; voted for a breeder reactor that used obsolete technology; and voted for the Tennessee-Tombigbee waterway, which federal studies said had a miserable cost-benefit ratio of 1 to 0.26.
But Bud Scruggs, Hatch's campaign manager, said each of the 27 votes listed by Moss were only on technical amendments to bills, not on education funding bills themselves. He said Moss shows a lack of knowledge of how Congress works if he attacks Hatch for not supporting such "loser amendments."
"We expected attacks like this from Brian, but not in an area where the senator is so strong. Not only has he voted for every major education funding bill in the past six years, he also co-sponsored them," he said.
Not only were the votes criticized just on technical amendments, but Hatch voted with the majority on 20 of the 27 votes, Scruggs said. "How can he accuse Hatch of being out of the mainstream when he voted with the majority of the U.S. Senate on 20 of the 27 votes?"
Scruggs added, "This shows two reasons why Moss is disqualified for office. First, he has a misunderstanding of the legislative process. Second, he distorts the record of an opponent for political gain."
That prompted Moss to call a second press conference to respond to Scruggs' comments, saying he understands legislative process and that the 23 votes were an accurate measure of Hatch's stand on issues.
"I must assume that these (Scruggs' comments) are Orrin's statements, responses and excuses. If they are, he is engaged in a blatant attempt to deceive the citizens of Utah on his education record," he said.
"Let's set up a face-to-face debate on education before the Senate goes back into session on Sept. 7 and let the voters decide who is telling the truth," Moss said. "Education is a critical issue to Utahns. They deserve better than two candidates trading charge and countercharge at long distance."