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Live-blogging the Colorado Senate debate


9:58 ET: That's all for the Senate debate. Reporters in the studio are going to try to catch the candidates and ask them some follow-up questions. We'll report back in this space to let you know what they say.

9:56 ET: Buck says that he would like to see a balanced budget amendment. Also "play more golf."

9:54 ET: Buck on 'making friends' in Washington: "I am not going to let those friendships interfere with my obligation to do the people's work."

9:52 ET: Bennet references the statement that Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, made before backing Associate Justice Elena Kagan, calls it "a class act."

9:50 ET: Which sitting justices would you have voted against? Buck names Kagan and Sotomayor. Bennet names Clarence Thomas and says he's been "disappointed" by Chief Justice John Roberts.

9:48 ET: Gregory asks Buck if he believes being gay is a choice. "I do," Buck replies.

"You can choose who your partner is." Buck adds that "birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things."

9:45 ET: Bennet says that "as the father of three daughters," he does not agree with the language Buck used while dealing with the victim in the case.

Here's the video of the exchange on the date rape case. Buck said he does not regret how he dealt with the victim in the case.



9:42 ET: Gregory is pressing Buck on whether or not he handled a rape case insensitively during his tenure as Weld County District Attorney. You can read about the case here. (via POLITICO)

A Colorado woman who claims she was raped five years ago has released a taped conversation between her and Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck, the Weld County district attorney, that she says proves he tried to blame her for the episode.

The secret recording by the victim, provided to The Colorado Independent, reveals Buck telling the woman the details appeared to show she consented to the sexual encounter, though he admits the woman " never said the word 'yes'."

9:40 ET: Buck also argues that the tax cuts will grow the economy by putting more money in Americans' pockets. He slips up, accidentally saying "government" instead of "the economy."

Seeing the opening, Bennet jumps in: "Well, I'm definitely not in favor of growing government."

9:40 ET: Asked if he agrees with some Republicans that the Bush tax cuts do not have to be paid for, Buck replies "No, I do not ... We've got to find spending cuts." Bennet supports an extension of the tax cuts for one year.

9:38 ET: Buck: "Republicans are every bit as much to blame as Democrats" for running up the debt.

9:36 ET: Bennet says that the president has done things that "were not helpful for the state of Colorado."

9:34 ET: Bennet says the stimulus package "saved us from going into the second Great Depression."

9:32 ET: Both candidates are bringing up the negative ads that have largely characterized the general election. The Denver Post reports that outside groups have pumped a whopping $23 million into the election. About $18 million of that has been devoted to negative advertising.

9:28 ET: Bennet charges that Buck ran a primary campaign based on extreme conservative policy positions but now hopes to portray himself as more mainstream. "That's not the kind of straight talk that people in Colorado want." Bennet says.

9:27 ET: Buck says he's not in favor of repealing the 17th amendment, a charge that Bennet has made against his GOP opponent. The amendment allows for direct election of senators.

9:26 ET: Bennet urges a "serious conversation, rather than just a bunch of slogans." Throughout the campaign, he has tried to make reasonableness and civility a centerpiece of his political identity.

9:25 ET: Buck says he's attended over 800 Tea Party-related events and he has not seen racism manifested in the movement. "I find it offensive that folks would try to label the Tea Party that way."

9:24 ET: Gregory asks Buck whether the Tea Party represents a legitimate political movement or an extreme force. Buck says that frustration with Washington has created a lot of political energy. 'It is a lot more mainstream than has been portrayed.'

9:22 ET: Buck has tried to paint Bennet as "a rubber stamp for his friends in Washington." Obama, who won the state by nine points in the 2008 election, has stumped on Bennet's behalf.

9:21 ET: This is the first national showdown between the two Colorado candidates. Msnbc.com's Tom Curry wrote about the state of play in the race earlier this week:

Buck told The Denver Post in July that he’s running "because I'm mad, because I think what's going on in D.C. is wrong. The lurch to the left has taken us down the wrong path." His closing argument in debates goes like this: "We protested when the government ran up trillions of dollars of debt, we sent e-mails when they were about to pass the health care bill … we pleaded with them to please secure our borders so that we would be safe — and you know what: they heard us, but folks, they ignored us. And on Nov. 2, they will ignore us no more.”

Appointed to fill the Senate seat held by Ken Salazar (who was tapped by President Obama as his Interior Secretary), and on the ballot for the first time ever, Bennet has found Colorado's political terra firma shifting once again. He and three of the state's Democratic House members appear to be in some danger of losing.

9:20 ET: The Senate debate is about to start.

9:00 a.m. ET Good morning! If it's a Sunday Senate debate on Meet the Press... we're live-blogging it. This week, Colorado incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet faces off against Republican challenger Ken Buck. Recent polls show a single-digit race between the two candidates, although Buck -- who's running as a conservative, small-government outsider -- appears to have a slight edge. It's also the contest in the country that's attracting the most cash from outside groups, with millions being spent on attack ads in the state.

Buck, who was heavily backed by Tea Party groups, defeated establishment GOPer Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the August 10 primary. Bennet survived a tough challenge from House Speaker Andrew Romanoff.

You can read more about the race here.

The debate begins after host David Gregory interviews White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Check your local listings and tune in.