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Hey all - Jason from Scott's staff here at the SnowGoose restaurant in beautiful Anchorage, Alaska!

Tonight is a big debate between Scott and Senator Murkowski, and I'll be liveblogging right here! The newest comments will be at the top. I'll see if I can swing by the comments mid-post to answer any questions you might have.

(You can watch the live stream - though if it's anything like the stream up here it's a little brutal, at

We have blue screen of projector death. This may be it for me, America. But only for the moment.

NOISE NOISE I can't hear this question, skipping it. I would be a horrific White House biographer.

8:50 3 fav qualities about Sarah Palin?

SLM - she's a runner, she worked to advance some ethics reform within legislature, and uh... she loves the outdoor, and I do too (this was truly hilarious too)

Scott - she'll never refudiate Alaska's ability to develop natural resources. I'm stumped. There's something beautiful about every human being.

Lisa - "you are a politician"

This was a great exchange.

8:49 How will you help inequality for LGBT members of Alaska communities?

Scott - sovereignty begins with the individual. People will talk about states' rights, that states have a right to decide. States have rights until they infringe on rights of the individual. I don't think any government has the right to infringe on sovereign right of individual to love whoever they choose.

SLM - we must never discriminate based on sex, gender, ethnicity and have supported Hate Crimes legislation. (Notice, she didn't mention sexual orientation? Unintentional?)

8:47 SLM - I believe that abortion should be rare, but I believe in Roe. No federal funds for abortion.

8:46 Abortion - SLM federal dollars should be allowed in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Scott - a woman's right to choose is a healthcare choice between her and her doctor. If a woman would qualify for a broken leg service or cancer, she should qualify for coverage for abortion.

Do you believe in evolution? Lisa - yes. Scott - yes. I don't believe evolution and faith are mutually exclusive. (Sad that Joe isn't here.)

8:45 Q to Scott - you've got a municipal manager that handles day to day, how does being mayor qualify you? He's a spokesperson, an advocate, someone who has to cut a budget and stand for policies.

8:44 Scott cracks up the room - if he had to vote for Lisa or Joe, who would he vote for? He basically says Joe is the last person in the world he'd vote for.

I was derelict in my duties and missed the first two questions from the audience as I was grabbing a stout from the bar. Sue me!

We are at an intermission for about 15 minutes. I thought the first part of the debate went really well. Very substantive, actually. See what happens when Jumpin' Joe and the Nasty Express don't show?

This is my obligatory plug for support at Orange to Blue. You guys are awesome. And great comments, though I've been typing so feverishly I haven't been able to chime in. Will do at some point.

8:20 SLM to Scott - you said earlier you couldn't think of anything that you disagree with Begich on. Would you have voted against the EPA right to regulate green house gases, just like Begich did?

Scott - we need to convince a national audience that Alaska's natural resources are the green choice in a global economy. I don't support the EPA all of the time. You were labeled the face of resource recklessness, not that I think that's fair. We need to change hearts and minds. We need to bring our resources online. We can't export our environmental degredation. I think choosing to do this resolution lessened our case to develop our natural resources.

SLM - we won't be able to develop if EPA is setting climate policy.

8:18 Scott to SLM - in the Fairbanks News Miner, you took credit for a project that you actually voted against? How can you say you brought home money that you voted against?

SLM - I have explained that in order to reduce the top line amount of our budget this year, we didn't support the bills going through committee. (We are talking about LAST year's omnibus, she's talking about this year's committee bills.) I have worked hard to get Alaska's projects in, use my seniority to include them in there. We have moved through the committee process, and hopefully we will move through the top line number.

Scott - hitting Lisa for voting against all the approps bills this year. Used to be a bipartisan committee. Culture of the committee has changed. I don't think Stevens would have voted with his party against bills that brought $400 million to Alaska.

8:12 SLM to Scott - you were asked about healthcare. You said you want to evaluate the individual mandate as something you might want to evaluate. What else would you want to evaluate? She goes through a list of things that she doesn't like. Give me 3 things that you don't like that will decrease the cost and increase the access?

Scott - there was a time in this campaign when I was a lonely candidate. Story that I missed. I don't want to repeal t he healthcare bill. With 150 amendments, this might as well be called McConnellcare as Obamacare. As mayor, we own our local hospital. Talking to our administrator, he's been a medical professional all of his life, we're still trying to see how these elements will impact our local facilities. Some of these things, we're waiting to see. I haven't had anyone answer me straight up if removing the individual mandate would kill this. Pooling is key. The 1099 reporting requirement is ridiculous and we should get rid of it. You don't repeal a bill that tries to put healthcare decisions back in the hands of doctors and patients over these things.

SLM - I think it's important to point out that while you're evaluating this, many of the burdens are going into place, not the benefits. We have 30k people starting to pay for this as you're evaluating what needs to be done or what needs to be fixed. Couldn't agree more that we need to reduce costs. But our budget experts here and at CNS estimate that as a result of this bill, our costs are going up by 12%.

There's some crosstalk between moderator and SLM about whether senators' plans shouldn't be taxed but small business plans should be.

8:06 Scott to Lisa - we have a crisis out here with Medicare reimbursement rates, seniors are afraid they can't keep their Patients. You have voted to increase Medicare rates, will you continue to do that?

SLM - in 2008 I bucked my party and wanted a permanent 35% increase. I have been working to do it. Senator Stevens and I got that put into law - it has stopped the bleeding. We have seen providers, instead of kicking their patients off. We've got to do more. I've worked for funding for getting providers out into the state. We don't have a medical school. Working to provide for residency programs here in Alaska, even though we don't have the medical facilities. Healthcare reform, $2.5 trillion and we didn't address the doc fix. Costs of doing business are an issue we deal with here in Alaska.

Scott - Look at (DO THIS!) - here in Alaska, it's almost pro bono for doctors to take on senior patients. You voted against increasing primary care rates.

8:00 SLM to Scott - a lot of the discussion is you saying that the numbers don't add up for my write-in campaign, I can't win. Instead of you telling people why they should vote for you, you're telling me that it's a waste for me. You're saying I need to win by about 7,000 votes to win. Who do you think are the 7,000 people who are going to botch it?

Scott - i stand by that statement. I need one more vote than Joe or Lisa to win. Joe needs 1 more vote than me or you to win. But you need a lot more, because there have been errors over history. Talks about Senator Gruening, Wally Hickel (long time AK politicians who lost the write in). Case in point is the writein of Robin Taylor. Lindauer was dumped from the ballot, Taylor was replaced but couldn't be put on the ballot. People couldn't spell Taylor. According to Club for Growth, and can't even believe he's talking about it - the race is 33-27. Lisa and I share a deep concern about Joe and his concerns of the world.

Followup: you at one point said you wouldn't mind if Lisa won.

Scott - I'll get to that. If it was Joe and I, I think I'd be up 6-7 points. I'm asking people to vote their values and not their fears. If I do as well as the average losing Dem in a statewide race, I win by a landslide

SLM - you gave him too much time. (Lord that was lame). Goes to the history, says Hickel announced his writein late. Not like me. What I have that they didn't have was facebook, twitter, internet, and wristbands. (Notice, no blogs?) We are doing it. We can do anything we put our minds to here in Alaska. You think 1 in 12 of my supporters can't write my name. I want 12 of my supporters to stand up and you can pick which one you think can't write the name.

Scott - on preferring Lisa to win. God forbid a politician give an honest answer. I was asked this when debating Joe a month ago. I think Joe is better for my electoral chances, but he's dangerous. Lisa isn't as far to the right as Joe Miller. John Birch isn't as far to the right as Joe Miller.

7:54 Questions from candidate to candidate:

Scott to Lisa - do you believe in privatization like you did in 2005 and 2008?

SLM - let me explain the vote. It was a pilot project that would allow individuals to take that option with a limited amount of their SocSec dollars and invest that privately. Since the financial meltdown... I'm not sure where that went. Seniors are saying that they dont' want to use business acumen or financial system, they just want the money. Some of the solutions we need to look at are perhaps extending the age for eligibility.

7:52 SLM - Native corps can fix from the inside out, don't need outsiders like Claire McCaskill telling us what to do - Mark has been standing up for it, but other Democrats like McCaskill are after it.

Scott - Folks see the disconnect between the highrise building in midtown Anchorage and conditions in other places, which is where the criticism comes from. We can fix these elements, and I will oppose McCaskill. It's a little bit of grandstanding on her part, she doesn't have any tribes in her state. We need to redouble our efforts with the tribe. Corporate model means it's responsible to its shareholders, but not civic responsibility. Tribes do have those responsibilities, and we need to work with tribes and corporations.

7:50 Audio conked out, missed a followup regarding 8a.

7:47 Question regarding 8a program: how will you help individuals have a better voice and greater accountability?

SLM - I have suggested reforms to help with these things, SBA is moving to implement. Focused on accountability and transparency. It is important whether shareholder or not that there is a transparency in the corporation.

Scott - Overwhelming evidence is that corporations participation in 8a program has built great capacity in the Native community. Great addition of business acumen and commerce ability. Accountability and transparency, not allowing this to be a trickle down system, are important

7:44 Improving life for rural Alaska. Has it come time for the state to consolidate the small villages?

Scott: I don't support consolidation - take a look at the lifeblood of the community. Many times in rural Alaska it's a school. We need to fully fund our rural education, both state and federally. Our identity is often tied into a place. To say that because youre having hard times with energy costs or infrastructure, we force you up or downriver, that's not right.

SLM - doesn't think consolidation is the answer. Answer is to work together to reduce energy costs. If we have connectors between some of these smaller communities - instead of having a runway in each of 3 small villages, have 1 runway with connecting roads. We can reduce some of the expensive infrastructure. 82% of the communities in AK not accessible by road

Q: how do you make the economics work out for these communities?

Scott - baseline of any community is affordable energy, reliable transport, functioning infrastructure, educated populace. We're a young state, as a mastter of equal footing, we need to be invested in just like every western state was at one point. We need to redouble our efforts and bring in the tribes, along with the Native corporations, to make sure everyone is heard.

SLM - Focus on affordable energy solutions within the community - if you can't afford to heat, you can't afford to stay in the community. New broadband and Internet needed for better communications, so you can market your skills and goods.

7:40 Q: For SLM: you once said you'd be fine with government run healthcare if it was done right? what do you think of this package? SLM - we don't have adequate funding of IHS, the system that we have put in place, the gov't run healthcare plan, doesn't work. We need to allow it to work by providing adequate funding.

Followup: do you think the IHS would be a good model to apply for the rest of the government? You're saying it's good here, why not everywhere? SLM - there are certain constituencies we've made that commitment to, for healthcare - Alaska Natives, American Indians. We promised veterans we would give them the healthcare. She's hemming and hawing when pressed about why we don't provide all people with that care.

Scott adds - we have a unique relationship with our federally recognized tribes - part of the agreement is that government will provide health care. But senator, you voted NO on reauthorization of Indian Health Services, which was part of reform. No means NO, yes means yes.

SLM responds - I not only voted for but led the fight for the IHS bill. We passed it 86-10 out of the US senate - it got stalled out on the House side because of Nancy Pelosi, killed the bill. It came back, we were walking on this for 14-16 years. Dorgan attached it as part of the health care plan, which I voted against, but I received recognition and awards for working to advance IHS.

7:34 Q for Scott: I'm not sure what the question was. He says that Alaskans don't like outside interests coming in and dictating them what their lives and interests should be. I'm not like east coast Dems - I realize that resource extraction can be done using the highest standards in the world. We can no longer export environmental degredation.

Q for SLM: some say you're too liberal, some say too conservative. (Softball is a great sport, ain't it?) She talks about how this means she's a principled moderate that decides for herself based on the merits of the issues.

7:32 Q for Scott: How will you establish your own identity apart from Senator Begich? Scott - the senator has been a great help from the campaign, but our backgrounds are much different. I'm from rural area, went to a small school. He then compliments the staff (GO SCOTT GO!!!!)

Followup: what decisions of Begich does he disagree with? Scott says nothing comes to mind, though he doesn't know that he agrees with everything.

7:31 Q for Scott about efforts to reopen his alma mater Sheldon Jackson College, as mayor: He's proud to be an alumnus, there was a lot of conversations about how to get it open. Lot of miscommunication. Final request was from the university for $5 million to get the doors open, which would have created about 5 jobs. I didn't support it because I didn't think the cost/benefit analysis panned out.

Followup: why were you criticized by the president of the University? The prez told me that he had been asked by the Republican party to run for governor in Iowa (we're talking about Dubuque U, which wanted to open Sheldon Jackson. It's in Iowa). It would have opened only for a winter session for Dubuque, so it would not have employed all those who lost their jobs when Sheldon closed.

(I realize I'm a little unclear here, will come back)

7:27 Q to SLM about Kenai Land Deal (controversy): She realizes that it didn't look good, but they paid more for the land than it was worth. She understands the controversy, she chose to sell the land back to the seller because of the brouhaha and allegations of the sweetheart deal. There is nothing that is worth compromising the public trust, it wasn't worth it. No official should get something that isn't fair market value or is viewed as a gift.

7:25 Q: Scott, do you feel unprepared? Scott thinks he's shown he's prepared by his experience as a local mayor. On June 1, he thought he'd be debating with Senator Murkowski over the course of the summer, but things changed. He has concerns about the Tea Party Express, he feels the fear. You should vote for the guy who won his primary, whose name is on the ballot.

Followup: You struggled with answers over TARP and Afghanistan in a RealClearPolitics interview - what informs your reading decisions? Scott jokes it up, says hold on a minute, he needs to look it over. (Hilarious). RCP was the first thing in the campaign - I was fundraising on one phone, talking to RCP on the other phone. I don't think it was a fair representation of what I know about the issues?

Followup: What do you read? Scott: MAD Magazine, the Wasilla Frontiersman. NY Times, Chicago Tribune, ADN, Sitka Sentinel.

7:21 Q to LSM: Did you ever think that you didn't want to be appointed to the Senate by your father? Do you feel discomfort by having the seat handed to you?

SLM: It was a very difficult choice for me and my father. To accept it knowing that there would be accusations of nepotism was extraordinarily difficult, but she accepted because she truly felt she could help benefit her state. Stood in DC for 8 years, passed the test by a tough election v. Tony Knowles, and the voters think she's doing a good job.

7:18 Follow up. Scott thinks it's important that the next senator understands the language of local communities. He's been to DC 12 times over the last 8 years to advocate for schools, roads, ports. Need to represent the state.

SLM (I'm abbreviating for the Senator, it's just too long to write, much respect to her though). She wants to know how the delegation can be effective knowing that, if Scott wins, it would be the least senior delegation in the Senate?

Scott responds that it's a fair question. The clock is ticking on Prudhoe Bay oil, we can't wait around for what is next in AK. We've been trying to sell resources the same way, with the same players, for 30 years and we've failed. I think a second Democrat, a pro-resource Democrat will force the caucus to listen to us. We can't wait another 6 years blaming people for not getting our resources to market.

7:15 Q for Scott: What do you think the press SHOULD have been asking you? Scott says that the press should have been asking about his vast local experience that makes him so ready for this office! Crowd thinks it's hilarious.

Senator Murkowski: I have a long record of votes. They should be asking Scott and Joe why they should vote for someone without seniority. Thinks questions about her voting record are fair, she's been vetted. (She is unable to answer the question of what questions SHOULD have been asked of her)

7:13 And there were openings! And I missed them due to the sound. Success?

7:11 And we're still hanging - I think we're having some technical problems with the audio feed up here. I'll swing down into the Gladiator's Arena if need be.

7:02 PM and we are upstairs, ready to begin! The dirty bloggers, like yours truly, have been exiled to an upstairs room to watch the debate via projector.

Originally posted to JasonArthurSmith on Mon Oct 18, 2010 at 08:06 PM PDT.

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