|By Lisa Riley Roche; Lisa Riley Roche Deseret News|
What no doubt will be a hard-fought battle for the
Love, the former
But Owens, a lawyer and the son of late
In his opening statement, Owens said Love applauded last year's federal government shutdown during a rally for Sen.
"That's the distinction between me and her. I see the shutdown as a breakdown," Owens told the audience of about 150, calling the shutdown "the worst manifestation" of
He said Love is driven by the national tea party agenda and questioned who she would be beholden to if elected because of support coming in for her campaign from out of state.
Owens also said Love wanted to create a voucher system for
Other points Owens made about Love included what he said was a call from her to eliminate federal support for education. Love disagreed with that characterization "without attacking people" and called for more local control for schools.
On issues the candidates were asked to address, there was also disagreement.
Love said the federal tax code needs to be simplified enough to fit into a single three-ring binder while reducing federal spending because "this nation should not be built on the backs of taxpayers."
Owens said any tax reform needs to be bipartisan and invoked his father's efforts in
"We need to get back to that approach," he said.
Love said Utahns were better equipped to manage the public lands in the state, but Owens said the effort to get the federal government to relinquish control had no realistic chance of succeeding.
He had a similar response to her call for repealing Obamacare, "to stop forcing Americans who don't want insurance to have insurance." Owens said while he does not believe the law will be repealed, it has serious flaws that should be fixed.
After the debate, Love told reporters when asked about what Owens described as her stand on the federal government shutdown that "it was absolutely absurd that he would put words in my mouth."
Love said had she been in
Love said the race "is not about who I'm running against. It's about who I'm running for," the people of the
Owens said after the debate the facts "absolutely" portray Love as an extremist and he would be fair in contrasting her views with his. Pressed to label his political view, he said, "it's a moderate, reasonable approach I would bring."
Owens' communications consultant, advertising executive
"Mission accomplished. He did exactly what he needed to do, which is introduce himself as a very legitimate candidate, and a credible candidate,"
Former state lawmaker and
Pignanelli said the debate went well, even though he had admonished the candidates to talk about their plans if elected rather than each other, and avoid any "cheap shots."
Owens, Pignanelli said, "is trying to say, 'I'm a different type of person.'"
In the "Conference of Champions,"
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