Early voting begins for the Texas primary in just a little more than a week . And last night six candidates running for US Senate tried to impress voters during a live televised forum hosted by public broadcast stations in Houston.
It was not your typical debate among the two Democrats and four Republicans who want to succeed Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, the Republican front runner in most polls, led the party charge in attacking the president.
"We need quite frankly, to send Barack Obama back to Chicago, get a good conservative Republican in the White House, that will follow a stable predictable course, so businesses know that the rug won't be pulled out from under their feet," he said. "Invest it in creating millions and millions of new jobs, that will turn this country around."
The format allowed each candidate to state their reason for running. Republican Ted Cruz, who has made up ground in recent polls, instead used his time to set the record straight on ads being run by Dewhurst, about a lawsuit involving an American company and a company in China.
"Number one, he says I'm a trial lawyer. I'm not a trial lawyer, I'm an appelate lawyer," he said. "I had nothing to do with the trial in this case, he knows that. He talks also about that I am the lead lawyer in this case. I work at a huge lawfirm, that's got 12 hundred lawyers all over the world, represents tens of thousands of clients and matters all over the world, and one of them happened to be based in China. That one hired the lawfirm I work at, to handle the appeal."
Republican hopeful and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert told viewers and listeners he would extend Bush-era tax cuts, not eliminate them.
"We should extend those tax cuts, but I've gone much further than that. We need to change the tax system. And unfortunately, it's become so convoluted, seven thousand pages," he said. "So what we proposed again, a tax program that flattens, brings the rates down, gets rid of the junk that makes it much simpler. On the corporate side we do the same thing."
Republican Craig James said the government was stifling business owners.
"I think ultimately, we've got to push the federal government back in its limited box," he said. "That's my mission, is to go and to find a way, to allow men and women and small business owners like myself, to again get excited about providing jobs for other people, and for the economy to pick back up."
While the Republicans in the forum touted conservative values, Paul Sadler, the leading Democrat in the race, said the partisan mindset in Washington must change.
"Issues don't have Republican and Democratic labels, children don't have an 'R' or a 'D' on their forehead. What you have in government is a problem, and that problem has a solution," he said. "And that solution can come from the most liberal member. But as long as you're searching for the solution, you will find good legislation, and you'll solve our problems."
Early voting begins May 14 for the Texas primary, which gets underway May 29. See KERA's Senate guide for candidate profiles and video.
- Pat Hernandez, KUHF