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Talent, McCaskill debate in Clayton

Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican U.S. Senator Jim Talent (file photos)
Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican U.S. Senator Jim Talent (file photos)

By Bill Raack & Tom Weber, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The two main-party candidates for U.S. Senate in Missouri debated again Wednesday night, this time in Clayton.

Topics discussed included Iraq, stem cells, college costs, and even the plight of former TWA workers.

The two also showed how they differ on the topic of North Korea and whether the country should have direct talks with that country in trying to stop its nuclear program.

Talent opposes direct talks with North Korea about its nuclear program. He says that was tried by the Clinton administration and it didn't work."

"We can't reward him for saber-rattling," Talent said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "We can't reward him for building a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. What he wants is the credibility of being able to say he forced the United States to the negotiation table."

But McCaskill says she would not oppose direct talks with North Korea: "You don't make peace with your friends. You make peace with your enemies and there should never be a refusal to have negotiations with any country that presents a danger."

Other issues included the following exchanges:

- On the war in Iraq and Afghanistan:

Talent: "She [McCaskill] wants an artificial timetable for withdrawal from Iraq regardless of whether the mission is complete. She opposes the terrorist surveillance program. I think if there's an international phone call and Al-Queda's on the other end of the line we need to find out what they're talking about."

McCaskill: "It doesn't matter how many times Senator Talent says it. It will not change the fact that as a former prosecutor, I want aggressive surveillance and intelligence. I want it within the framework of our laws and within our constitutional guidelines."

- On Amendment Two, which would protect any stem cell research that the federal government allows:

Talent: "I can't support the ballot issue because it grants a constitutional right to clone the earliest stages of human life and that goes too far for me. The right would exist by the way on an unqualified basis, regardless of whether there was a continued medical necessity for it."

McCaskill: "My faith dictates that we should heal the sick and God gave us incredible intelligence to find ways to make people's lives better with science and medicine. Our country has never turned its back on medical research, Missouri should never turn its back on medical research."

The two have two more debates scheduled before next month's election.

>>Listen to the entire debate here