Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

October 26, 2012

Last debate has sparks, no KO blows

Gubernatorial candidates finish strong in Fort Wayne

FORT WAYNE — Democrat John Gregg came out swinging in the third and final gubernatorial debate Thursday, in what might have been his last, best chance to further narrow the race.

Republican Mike Pence, whose lead in the polls is still formidable, if not the double-digit lead it was a few weeks ago, sparred with Gregg but more often spoke around his opponents and directly to the audience.

Afterwards Pence called it a “civil and substantive debate.”

In opening remarks at the WFWA-TV studio in Fort Wayne, Gregg attempting to tie Pence to candidate Richard Mourdock’s rape comments from Tuesday’s Senate debate.

“You tried to separate yourself from your ticket mate, Richard Mourdock,” Gregg said. “Mike Pence can’t separate himself from the Tea Party, because he is the Tea Party.”

Pence took shots at Gregg over Gregg’s tenure as Indiana House Speaker, saying the state’s credit rating “was downgraded twice” shortly after Gregg left the position.

To Gregg’s contention of leaving a balanced budget in each of his six years as speaker, Pence rebutted: “You did it by using budget gimmicks. You raided reserves. You put off payments to local schools.”

The back-and-forth between Pence and Gregg was punctuated by Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham, unorthodox as always, who suggested allowing county government to keep the income tax revenue now flowing to the state.

“We need to build from the local level up,” he said.

Boneham was also the only candidate to take a direct stance on the idea of teaching creationism in schools, saying it was something alternative schools could teach.

“We need to keep science science,” he said.

On Mourdock, Gregg hammered Pence in post-debate comments, saying Pence’s positions on abortion and Mourdock continue to shift.

“I brought up how Mike Pence has changed his position on abortion, and he didn’t deny it,” Gregg said. “Yesterday he called on Mourdock for an apology, and last night he went to a fundraiser with him. That’s the D.C. way.”

Pence said his position is to oppose abortion funding except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother; last year he only checked off the latter exception in an Indiana Right To Life survey.

The auto loans also provided a point of contention, as they have in previous debates, but this time Pence did more to clarify his position, saying he had favored “debtor in possession” financing, backed by federal loan guarantees, rather than direct government loans.

“I will never believe we can borrow and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy. I wanted a backstop, not a handout,” Pence said.

Gregg came up with another one-liner to punctuate his rebuttal point.

“If we’d have followed your plan, the [GM Fort Wayne plant] would be the world’s largest indoor flea market,” Gregg said. “It wasn’t a bailout, it was a loan to the auto industry. It was an investment in Indiana workers.”

The topic of medical marijuana was raised by one of the five Indiana residents selected to pose a question during the debate.

Gregg said he was against decriminalizing marijuana, but said, as a cancer survivor, he would consider medical use.

“I’d not be inclined to [sign a bill], but I’d be inclined to listen,” he said.

Pence was adamant in opposition, saying he’d seen lives sidetracked by marijuana, which he called a “gateway drug.”

Boneham suggested pharmaceutical companies might have a stake in preventing access to medical marijuana.

“Prohibition hasn’t worked. If it would help some of our suffering patients, we should let them have that plant,” he said.

The debate featured a Lincoln-Douglas section, in which each candidate was allowed a minute to pose a topic, then each opponent allowed two minutes to rebut before the originator of the topic was given a minute to close.

Gregg chose Pence’s opposition to the auto loans as his topic, while Boneham asked how the others would help non-profits reach out to the disadvantaged. Pence questioned Gregg on the deficit spending which left the state with more than $800 million in back payments owed to schools at the end of Frank O’Bannon’s governorship.

“When you were Speaker, five of the six years, Indiana ran deficits. The state had a $700 million deficit. When Mitch Daniels came in, we finally had an honest, balanced budget,” Pence said.

Gregg said it was “laughable a congressman would lecture anybody on fiscal responsibility.”

If neither candidate could make the other squirm too badly during the debate, it was up to the press to make them both uncomfortable afterwards.

Gregg declined to answer whether he’d allow creationism to be taught in schools, saying instead that “for the past 15 or 20 years, we’ve allowed the Bible to be taught as literature in public schools. And that’s where I’ll leave it.”

A further clarification wasn’t forthcoming.

Likewise Pence declined an answer when reporters asked him what he thought Richard Mourdock had to apologize for.

Mourdock created waves when he said Tuesday that all life is a gift from God, then went on to say “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

“I’m pleased he clarified his comments and apologized, and I think it’s time to move on,” was Pence’s statement.

Scott Smith can be reached at (765) 454-8569 or at scott.smith@kokomotribune.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • North split restrictions on Monday The Indiana Department of Transportation will restrict traffic at the single-lane ramp that connects U.S. 31 to southbound Ind. 931 on the north side of Kokomo — weather permitting — on Monday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remedial repairs along the 200-

    April 16, 2014

  • BK rebuild 04 Peru restaurant B-K West rebuilding after tornado

    PERU -- B-K West is more than just a drive-in restaurant to its owner, J.D. Hann. It's a piece of his childhood, a historic Peru landmark, and it's his baby. "I grew up with this place," the 57-year-old Peru native said. "We used to walk the tracks o

    April 16, 2014 7 Photos

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks backs manufacturing training efforts Congresswoman Susan Brooks' own personal manufacturing experience may have been limited to three months in a Kendallville caramel factory as a college student, but in her congressional roles, she's having an impact on the skills debate. In Kokomo Tue

    April 16, 2014

  • Superintendent of Ind Ed 01 State Superintendent Glenda Ritz visits Peru, discusses new standards

    PERU -- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Tuesday she is comfortable with the quick pace at which new academic standards are moving from concept to classroom. The Indiana Department of Education released a final draft of new

    April 16, 2014 4 Photos

  • Chrysler CEO will headline Tipton plant opening Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will preside over the grand opening of the company's fifth north central Indiana plant, the Tipton Transmission Plant, at a ceremony May 13, company officials announced Tuesday. In February 2013, Chrysler announced it w

    April 16, 2014

  • More than 70 businesses participate in annual job fair More than 70 local businesses got a look at the workforce of tomorrow during Tuesday's Kokomo Area Job Fair at the Ivy Tech Kokomo Event & Conference Center. The event, put on as a partnership between Indiana University Kokomo and Ivy Tech Community

    April 16, 2014

  • Kokomo episode of 'My First Home' airs Saturday A cautious cat-lover will search for the perfect house in Kokomo on Saturday's episode of "My First Home" on TLC. The episode airs at noon and features Kokomo real estate agent Gena Martin and first-time homebuyer Steven Underwood. In its description

    April 16, 2014

  • Easter basket workshop Thursday Generous individuals and businesses in town donated enough candy, games and books to fill more than 500 Easter baskets at this year's Tom Carey Easter Basket Workshop. The workshop starts at 10 a.m. Thursday. Any families that are strapped for cash t

    April 16, 2014

  • IUK to give Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne honorary degree Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will be at Indiana University Kokomo’s May 13 commencement to accept an honorary degree from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, IUK officials announced. In a statement, McRobbie credited Marchionne with engi

    April 15, 2014

  • Cheryl Marner aims to cross finish line during this year's Boston Marathon Cheryl Marner was a mile from the finish line at last year's Boston Marathon when all of the runners in front of her suddenly stopped. The race had come to a halt, and at the time, she didn't know why. "There was a lot of confusion," she said. "I hea

    April 15, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries