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In Debate, Senate Candidates Split On Afghanistan, Abortion

The four Democratic candidates vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, from left, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, businessman Stephen Pagliuca, and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. (Pool photo by Dina Rudick via AP)
The four Democratic candidates vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, from left, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, businessman Stephen Pagliuca, and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. (Pool photo by Dina Rudick via AP)

The four Democrats vying to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy say they oppose a planned U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan but split on a war tax to fund it.

City Year co-founder Alan Khazei kicked off a debate Wednesday by saying he would support a special "war tax" to fund the 30,000-troop build-up outlined by President Obama.

Attorney General Martha Coakley also says she would consider it, but Rep. Michael Capuano and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca say they would not support such a tax.
Replay: The Democratic Senate Debate
They spoke on New England Cable News during their final broadcast debate before Tuesday's primary. The debate was sponsored and broadcast by WBUR.

The issue of abortion funding in the health care reform bill divided Pagliuca and Capuano. Pagliuca does not see the amendment as a deal-breaker.

"We have people dying because they don't have insurance," Pagliuca said. "We've got on opportunity to get 30 million people insured. It's a terrible thing."

Capuano rebutted: “The point is wrong. It is not just about funding, because this particular amendment prohibits you from using private money (to fund abortions), as well.”

Another major difference among the candidates appears to over the acceptance of money from political action committees, or PACs, with Alan Khazei rejecting it outright and the others defending PACs as giving a voice to people without power and money.

On the Republican side, State Sen. Scott Brown and Duxbury attorney Jack E. Robinson are competing Tuesday for their party's nomination.

The general election is Jan. 19, 2010.

This program aired on December 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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