Barber, Kelly take jabs at each other in CD 8 debate

Social security, taxes, and health care reform dominated the debate between Barber, Kelly, and Manolakis

Barber, Kelly take jabs at each other in CD 8 debate

CREATED May 23, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It was the only public debate in the race for Congressional District 8, and the candidates did not hold back. The election is just 20 days away now, so the candidates wasted little time laying into each other at the Jewish Community Center Wednesday night.

All three candidates waged a spirited debate, but it was Jesse Kelly and Ron Barber that spent the most time taking jabs at each other. Each one accused the other of not telling the truth.

"If you tell the truth, you don't need a memory," Kelly said of Barber. The Kelly campaign says Barber is simply misleading the public when he says he never supported Obamacare.

Barber responded, "One more time you're trying to mislead the voters of this district. I was talking about a health care system that was broken."

The candidates sparred on a range of issues from health care to social security.

"I just think it would be great if you stood up, man up and say you changed your position, but instead you're trying to fool the public through double talk," Barber said.

Kelly responded, "In those same clips we do talk about privatization, but just two sentences later we talk about how important it is to protect senior's benefits. But of course you never hear about that."

After the debate 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked Kelly if he'd go as far as calling Barber a liar. Kelly responded, "I will not call anybody a liar. But I will tell you the ads are designed to currently scare the people on the system. The ads are a flat out lie."

Barber says Kelly is the only one misleading the public with his positions on social security.

"He wants to privatize it for younger generations," Barber said. "Then tonight he says he doesn't. Which is it Jesse?. Which is it?"

While the top two contenders debated over which one was the biggest flip flopper, it was Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis that landed the line of the night.

"It seems like you're (Barber) having a conversion right here at the table," he said. "And Jesse you've had four conversions in regards to social security and Medicare"

Just as the debate was set to wrap, Kelly surprised Barber and the audience with an unexpected question. Kelly asked Barber who he was going to vote for President in November.

Barber replied, "My vote is my vote Mr. Kelly and so is yours. I will not be talking about other elections. I'm focused on beating you June 12."

All three campaigns tells KGUN 9 that their candidates won the night. They also say they don't think the debates will have much sway with voters. The campaigns say by now voters know the candidates well enough, and most of them have already made up their minds.