Four candidates for
Cardin called for more investments in education and a mix of spending cuts and taxes to address the nation's budget woes. Bongino, a former
If the debate sounded familiar at times, it is because both candidates hewed closely to campaign messages espoused by their presidential nominees.
"The most important thing we can do now is have a responsible plan to deal with the deficit," Cardin said during the exchange, which WOLB broadcast live. "Everyone has to play according to the same rules. …Everybody should be paying their fair share."
As he has done throughout the campaign, Bongino sought to tie Cardin and other
"This is not an election, it's a cry for help," he said. "This is the worst recovery, post-
The 90-minute debate was also an opportunity for independent candidate Rob Sobhani, who entered the race in September after collecting 77,000 signatures to put his name on the ballot. The Potomac businessman has poured millions of dollars of his own money into television advertising but has yet to pose a serious threat.
Sobhani, chief executive of a consulting firm called Caspian Group, said he will boost Maryland's economy by attracting $5 billion in private investment to the state, though he has offered few specifics about how he would do so. On dealing with deficits, Sobhani has said he would hire forensic accountants — in his words, "
"We've got a broken political system," he said during the debate. "There are opportunities out there that our elected officials have failed to go after."
With less than two weeks to go before the Nov. 6 election, no independent observer believes Cardin is vulnerable in deeply Democratic Maryland — despite aggressive campaigning by Bongino and Sobhani's television blitz. A
The candidates presented different positions on this year's high-profile state ballot questions. Cardin reiterated support for legalizing same-sex marriage — "love is love," he said — and allowing some illegal immigrants to attend Maryland colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates. Bongino said he would vote against both of those referendum questions. Both candidates demurred on the ballot initiative to expand gambling.
Sobhani said he opposed the gambling measure, but he did not weigh in directly on the other issues.
A fourth candidate,
"If we lose our liberty," Ahmad said, "we have lost our soul."
The candidates will meet again at Salisbury University on Tuesday. A third debate will be broadcast live by WTTG-TV in Washington at 9 a.m. next Wednesday.