The national health care bill moving toward passage this week in Washington took center stage in a debate Tuesday night among the state's would-be senators.
Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley said the bill was not perfect, but that she would vote for it.
"I believe that the bill that the Senate has passed does bring lots of benefits to Massachusetts," she said, "including over $500 million for Medicaid which will cut our costs at the state level."
Republican state Sen. Scott Brown and third-party candidate Joseph Kennedy oppose the bill.
"The plan in Washington is for not good for Massachusetts," Brown said. "It's going to result in higher taxes, longer lines, lesser care, and it's going to cost Massachusetts jobs and I'm not supporting it."
The candidates also offered differing views on economic policy, the war in Afghanistan and, more broadly, when the country is justified in going to war.
"When our vital national interests are threatened, or when we're asked to assist our allies in their vital national interests, or when we're attacked, are the times when its appropriate to go to war," Brown said.
Coakley took a more cautious view. "We have to be threatened as we were, obviously, in WWII," she said. "I mean, that's the most obvious example (of) when we are attacked by a nation we can respond to."
Kennedy said the U.S. should avoid foreign conflicts as much as possible.
"The reality is that we should be defensive nation," Kennedy said. "We should work on establishing a very strong defense, and we should go about allowing the majority of the world to get along as they want to and encourage free trade with them."
The debate was webcast on wbztv.com Tuesday night.
This program aired on December 23, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.