OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Democrat Brad Carson and Republican Tom Coburn traded sharp jabs over road-building, national security and other issues in a televised debate Monday night.
Carson, the aggressor for most of the debate, criticized Coburn for flip-flopping on his position on the Patriot Act and for opposing an anti-terrorism bill while he was a congressman.
Coburn said Carson was ``hiding the ball'' and telling half-truths about his positions.
The debate was sponsored by Oklahoma City television station KOCO and the American Association of Retired Persons.
Coburn conceded at one point that he had changed his mind on the Patriot Act and now supported it after getting more information. He said he was not ``a career politician'' and did not have access to the information that Carson did.
Carson said the Muskogee doctor had in the past voted with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry against several military bills. He quoted Coburn as saying ``we have more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorism.''
Coburn said he strongly backed President Bush's anti-terrorism efforts, but believed that Congress had to get a handle on spending to effectively fight terrorism.
He justified his vote against an anti-terrorism bill by saying it did not lead to the defeat of the measure and it was important for someone to stand up for the constitutional rights of citizens.
Coburn served as congressman from Oklahoma's 2nd District from 1994-2000. He was succeeded by Carson, who has served two terms.
On road-building, Carson said Coburn had voted against highway appropriations and only brought $8,000 to his district while in Congress.
Coburn said his opponent had voted for a bill this year that would have cost the state $252 million in future highway revenue.
Carson criticized Coburn for not having detailed plans on how to help the Oklahoma economy and pointed out that Coburn had said that it was not his role to create jobs for rural Oklahoma.
``We never sent anyone to Washington, D.C., who made doing nothing part of their platform,'' the Democrat said.
Coburn said he was not sure Carson's quotes were accurate and he cared deeply for Oklahoma. But he said he did not believe that the solution to the state's problem is jobs created by the federal government.
Coburn said state policies are causing jobs to leave the state and the state needs tort reform and a revamped workers' compensation system.
Carson said Coburn has made statements favoring privatization of Social Security and has called Medicare ``a Soviet-style system.''
Coburn said Congress must keep its commitments to seniors and preserve those systems, but changes are in order and spending must be reduced to make sure the nation's children and grandchildren have a future.
He said there is ``a deficit of moral courage'' in Congress to address those problems.
Coburn said he would fight vigorously to keep Oklahoma military bases from closing.
Carson said Coburn favored a base-closing procedure that would save money, while he did not.