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Health Care, Afghanistan Top First Senate Debate

Republican Scott Brown, Democrat Martha Coakley and Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy take questions during a live radio talk show on WBZ-AM on Monday. (Steven Senne/AP)

Republican Scott Brown, Democrat Martha Coakley and Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy take questions during a live radio talk show on WBZ-AM on Monday. (Steven Senne/AP)

BOSTON — The three candidates running to fill the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate seat sparred on everything from Afghanistan to health care during their first debate Monday night on WBZ Radio.

The pending health care legislation produced some of the biggest differences between the candidates. Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley defended her decision to support the Senate’s reform bill despite restrictions it places on funding for abortion procedures.

During the primary race, she vowed to oppose a House version that restricted insurers from covering abortions.

“Let’s keep in mind what the goals are: coverage and keeping costs down,” Coakley said. “If that’s the case, then I would support this bill because I think it brings us closer to that without the restrictions that were in the bill in Congress.”

Republican state Sen. Scott Brown said the bill was too expensive, and he would oppose it. “When I go down there the first thing I’m going to look at is: Is this bill good for Massachusetts?” Brown said. “And this one absolutely is not.”

Independent candidate and libertarian Joseph Kennedy was steadfastly opposed to the measure. “If it were to pass, my goal would be to go to Washington and spend my time repealing every line of that bill,” he said.

On Afghanistan, only Scott Brown, an Army National Guardsman, supported President Obama’s troop surge. “My biggest fear is that we’re going to have the Taliban and al-Qaeda once again re-establish bases in that region, move on (to) Pakistan and get nuclear weapons and then use them,” he said.

Coakley said she did not believe the plan would help troops accomplish their mission in Afghanistan. “I just don’t believe at this stage that 30,000 troops in this period of time can accomplish a mission that is directed to keeping us safe,” Coakley said.

Kennedy said he did not support the war. “We need to put a thoughtful plan in place and bring troops home,” he said. “It’s a war that we can’t afford. It’s a war that we shouldn’t be in. And it’s a war that we can’t win.”

The three candidates debate again Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on WBZ-TV. It will stream live on WBZ’s Web site and then be broadcast on Sunday at 8 a.m. on WBZ-TV and on Channel 38 on Monday night at 7 p.m.

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  • MilScott

    I thought Joe Kennedy held his own and should be considered a serious candidate. The media is packaging this as a two-person race while trying to marginalize Joe. To the people of Massachusetts, please keep an open-mind and don’t let the media box you in.

  • John Anthony La Pietra

    One of the “Feature Reports” on the right-hand side of the page still insists that there are only two candidates in the race. It’s true that — if either Coakley or Brown wins the US Senate special election — another vacancy would be created, and filling it would take another extraordinary process. But that wouldn’t be a problem if Kennedy wins. Hmm . . . is that perhaps a small reason for voters to consider electing Kennedy?

  • FormerDEM

    I am really excited about this race. I think Soctt has a real chance to knock out the establishment candidate Martha Coakley. Look at the issues he is the better choice for the wellbeing of our great state

  • Laura Bianchi

    This will be another (yawn) race. Capuano would have blown Brown out of the water. However, the Dems will have to live with (boring) Annie Oakley, OOPS Martha Coakley. Senator Ted Kennedy had a personality. None of the candidates have one. I will go to the polls to vote against the other candidates.
    A lot of money people are for Coakley, so I do not believe that on spending she is liberal. Perhaps she is on social issues. She will be another centerist democrat who will be sure, the upper crust are taken care of. Brown is just another conservative who will screw things up like Romney, Bush, etc… Yeah, I will vote for the lesser of two evils. How sad.
    Laura B.
    Cape Cod, Ma

  • http://www.bostoncitylinks.com/boston_accountants.html Rod Kingsley

    I wholeheartedly agree with the statement about Kennedy being ignored. This is a very viable candidate and should be listened to! He has many reasonable approaches to solving our problems. Please give Joe a chance people, we need more like him here in MA!

  • matt

    i’m an independent. i agree with most everything that the lp stands for. but, i am a veteran too. i believe in our armed forces and their mission. i take great offense when any one uses the phrase “a war we can’t win”. if the politicians would get out of it and let the generals do their jobs. we can, we would and we will win that and any other wars the politicians decide to start.
    joe, watch how speak about the war, you are a viable canditate. albeit, with talk like that about the war, you may win some liberal votes alog the way. tread lightly, but wear big boots

  • Daid Rogerson

    This Joe Kennedy appears to be light years different from recently deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy. Both Mass. and the USA
    could benefit from a reduction in govt. I hope the name recognition will ironically assist Joe to victory.

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