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Connecticut Post - Shays, Himes Clash in First Debate

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Location: Bridgeport, CT

Connecticut Post - Shays, Himes Clash in First Debate


U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays and Democratic challenger Jim Himes finally engaged, face-to-face this morning, exchanging charges on tax cuts, health care and the nation's perilous economic state.

During a nearly 90-minute debate in Housatonic Community College -- the first of seven candidate forums over the next week -- Shays called Himes' campaign attacks of the last few months "scurrilous" and "deceptive."

The forum, sponsored by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and the Fairfield County Medical Association, was supposed to concentrate on health care, but the subject was a jumping-off spot for Shays to defend his overall record and for Himes to link the incumbent with the Bush administration.

The Democrat said he's using the facts of Shays' record to point out that after 21 years representing Connecticut's 4th Congressional District in Washington, it's time for new blood.

Shays, who presented the 150 people who attended the breakfast-time debate with an 88-page book detailing his career in Congress, said that Himes distorted his record on health-care reforms, student-loan reforms and other issues.

"I frankly hope that this election is decided on the facts," Himes said in the college's new $55-million Beacon Hall. "If this election is decided on the facts we will see wholesale change in this country, the kind that we need. The fact is, for a long time Chris Shays has been wrong on the critical issues of the day: on the war and the economy."

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