The five candidates running to become the Republican candidate in the U.S. Senate race to replace Evan Bayh did little to distinguish themselves from one another during a debate held in downtown Indianapolis Thursday.
Former Senator Dan Coats, State Senator Marlin Stutzman, former U.S. Representative John Hostettler, plumbing company owner Richard Behney and financial adviser Don Bates, Jr. all appeared at the debate hosted by a local news talk radio station at the Indiana War Memorial. The candidates answered questions on topics including health care, federal stimulus money, illegal immigration and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding non heterosexuals serving in the military.
All the candidates agreed that they oppose allowing gays to serve in combat, that the economic stimulus package was a bad idea, and that a crackdown in illegal immigration is needed. One candidate, Coats, seemed already to assume a win in the primary. He chose to use the time to differentiate himself from the all-but-official Democratic nominee, U.S. Representative Brad Ellsworth.
“That candidate has said, regarding health care, ‘I’m confident that Hoosiers support the decision I made,’” says Coats. “Well, what Hoosiers is he listening to? Not the ones we’re listening to.”
There Republicans will debate two more times on Saturday. The first is at 10a.m. at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis. The second will be held in the evening in Evansville.