Santorum, Casey Meet in Final Debate
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - October 16, 2006 -- In a debate seen live on 6abc and 6abc.com, Sen. Rick Santorum said Monday night he understands foreign policy and threats abroad. Democrat Bob Casey accused the Republican administration of being too hasty to take military action over diplomacy.
"I understand this situation," said Santorum of Iran, in the final debate between the two candidates competing in one of the nation's most competitive Senate races.
The United States is in "worse shape" in regard to Iran and North Korea because of President Bush's policies, said Casey, the state treasurer.
"I think this administration should make sure it listens to the military experts, something the Bush administration has not done very well in regards to Iraq," Casey said.
When pressed about what line would have to be crossed before he would vote to take military action against Iran or North Korea, Casey said he would have to rely on intelligence and military experts to help make the decision.
"We cannot sit here tonight and draw a line," Casey said.
Santorum, the No. 3 Senate Republican, was more direct.
"If we are to believe that they are close to developing a nuclear weapon, I would do, I would strike, without question ... Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. This is not North Korea which I believe would use it more for defensive purposes," Santorum said.
On the issue of the Iraq war, Santorum, who has been a staunch defender of the decision to invade Iraq, said a second look is a good thing. He praised the work that's being done by former GOP Secretary of State James A. Baker III to study it. He also said partitioning Iraq "may be a change of course that we need."
As he has before, Casey said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should be fired.
"We need to new leadership when it comes to Iraq," Casey said.
Santorum defended Rumsfeld saying, "He follows policy. He doesn't make policy."
When asked why they have used negative TV ads, Santorum brought up Casey's defeat in the 2002 gubernatorial primary against Gov. Ed Rendell, when he ran attack ads that appeared to backfire.
"Attack, attack, attack. He offers absolutely nothing," Santorum said. "Listen to what he's talked about here tonight. He's given vague answers. He doesn't have anything concrete. He dodges, he bobs and weaves."
Casey responded, "I've got a news bulletin for Rick Santorum. I lost that race, and he should learn something from it."
Casey told Santorum that on Tuesday he planned to release his IRS filings for the last five years, and he asked Santorum to do the same. He said he would.
The debate at the National Constitution Center was much less contentious than a debate last week in Pittsburgh, where the two bickered throughout.
It came hours after an early morning debate aired on KYW-AM.
All four debates in the race between the two have had similar themes. Casey has accused Santorum of being part of the problem in Washington and voting with President Bush 98 percent of the time. Santorum has said Casey spends too many days away from his state treasurer's office and does not address issues.
Besides foreign policy, immigration, Social Security and the environment were also discussed Monday night.
Santorum said Casey supported environmental policies that would hurt manufacturing in Pennsylvania, while Casey said it was "dinosaur" thinking by Santorum that all policy that is good for the environment is bad for jobs. Casey also accused Santorum of not recognizing the danger of global warming.
Santorum said Monday morning he was referring to wealthy families with two working parents - not those from low or middle-income brackets - when he suggested in his book that one parent should consider staying at home to spend more time with their children.
"I have nothing, absolutely nothing against working women," he said.
Santorum, who is seeking a third term, has trailed Casey, the son of the late governor Robert P. Casey, in polls for months.
Also Monday, Santorum announced he had $3.6 million in cash, slightly less than the $3.7 million cash Casey said he has to spend.
Monday night's debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, WPVI-TV, Common Cause and Commonwealth Foundation.
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