Schaffer, Udall debate immigration, college aid

October 16, 2008

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado,
DENVER — Senate candidates Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall sparred over immigration and college aid Thursday in a debate that was delayed for an hour by a dispute over ground rules.

Schaffer and Democrat Udall faced off at KMGH-TV in Denver. The debate, sponsored by the station, the League of Women Voters and the Colorado Bar Association, was videotaped for broadcast later in Thursday.

The dispute was over rules barring the candidates from using notes. Schaffer brought notes and insisted he never saw or agreed to a rule against them.

"You know this is a campaign for the U.S. Senate, it's not a talent contest," Schaffer said. He said the issues are important, and voters "deserve to have arguments that are reinforced with facts."

"They deserve to have well reasoned arguments. They deserve to have something that is actually thoughtful," Schaffer said.

Udall said he didn't bring notes but, exasperated by the delay, eventually said he wouldn't object if Schaffer used the ones he brought.

"I think this is a test of your wits; it's a test of what you have in your head," Udall said. "If Bob needs to have a few notes with him, fine. But I'm here with an empty pad and let's go."

Schaffer accused Udall of supporting sanctuary status for illegal immigrants in Boulder in Denver.

Udall rejected the charge. He said the government needs to put up barriers to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country, and provide a pathway to citizenship for the millions who are already here.

Udall argued students need more grants and scholarships, while Schaffer said he opposed government-run college aid programs.

Udall and Schaffer are vying to replace Republican Sen. Wayne Allard, who is retiring. Udall is a congressman representing the 2nd District, encompassing Boulder and some mountain counties. Schaffer is a former congressman who represented the 4th district, including Fort Collins, Greeley and much of northeastern and eastern Colorado.

A telephone poll by Quinnipiac University for The Wall Street Journal and the Web site of The Washington Post this week showed Udall leading Schaffer 54 percent to 40 percent.

The poll was done between Oct. 3-7. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.