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Democratic senator in competitive Colorado race defends party on inflation

<i>DEMETRIUS FREEMAN/AFP/POOL/Getty Images</i><br/>Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on February 23
POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on February 23

By Daniella Diaz, CNN

Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado on Sunday defended his party on the issue of inflation, arguing the US is dealing with a global problem as his GOP rival sought to pin blame on the incumbent senator for rising prices.

In a pair of wide-ranging, back-to-back interviews with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” Bennet and his opponent, Republican Joe O’Dea, sparred over a number of key issues in their race, with both candidates zeroing in on consumer prices.

“This is a global problem. Canada has the same inflation that we have, the European — every country in Europe has the same inflation we have. The UK does as well. India has as well because we’re facing broken global supply chains,” Bennet said.

The senator added that the benefits of the August 2022 Inflation Reduction Act cannot be counted yet because not all of them have kicked in, saying “the elements of the Inflation Reduction Act aren’t going to kick in for a while. The cap on drug prices for seniors and the requirement — finally, finally, we overcame pharma — to have the requirement that Medicare negotiate drug prices on behalf of the American people.”

O’Dea, a moderate who has distanced himself from former President Donald Trump, blamed rising costs on a sweeping $1.9 trillion Covid-19 economic relief package Democrats passed last year, calling it a “reckless spending bill” and noting his opponent’s voting record on the package.

“This inflation has been caused by the $1.9 trillion reckless spending bill that got put in place by Michael Bennet. He cast the deciding vote back in March of last year, it’s caused record inflation,” O’Dea told Bash.

The nearly $2 trillion package included up to $1,400 stimulus checks to many Americans, but President Joe Biden and other Democrats have previously dismissed arguments that the large Covid relief package may have contributed to the problem of rising prices.

“They’ve dumped over $5 trillion in the last year and a half,” O’Dea said on Sunday. “In addition to that, the war on energy has caused the price of diesel to go through the ceiling and it’s still there today. We’ve got a Fed that’s been asleep at the wheel, big government in our way.”

Bash also questioned both candidates on the issue of gun safety reform, with O’Dea calling for police to enforce “the laws we already have,” and saying Democrats in his state are ignoring current laws on the issue.

“Democrats here in Colorado have ignored the laws that are on the books. As a drug dealer, you can possess a weapon, it should be a felony, they’re not taking them off the streets. We need more cops on our streets,” he said. “We need to make sure that we’re enforcing the laws that we have. We don’t need a whole host of new laws. What we need to do is make sure we’re enforcing the ones we have.”

The Republican nominee also said he believed Trump should have done more to prevent the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and he added that if Trump runs for reelection again in 2024, he would support another Republican candidate.

“I believe that January 6 was a black eye on the country. I have been very vocal that I thought (Trump) should have done more to keep the violence from heading towards the Capitol. Anybody that was violent at the Capitol or tore something apart, they should be held accountable,” he said.

O’Dea also said he believes in a woman’s right to choose to keep or terminate her pregnancy. He said he believes women should have a right to terminate their pregnancy within the first five months of a pregnancy.

“I believe for the first five months that decision should be between a woman and her doctor. After that, for rape, incest, life of the mother, medical necessity, I believe that decision should also be between a woman and her doctor,” he said.

Though O’Dea has been running as a moderate, Bennet slammed him at the end of his interview, saying he’s very conservative and would have supported Trump’s Supreme Court nominees if he had been in office.

“Well, I think he’s painting himself that way. I mean, it’s incredible. He has said that he would have voted for all three of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees notwithstanding the fact that he knows that they overturned Roe v. Wade. He opposes, as you just heard, Colorado’s law codifying a woman’s right to choose,” Bennet said. “He says that Donald Trump, even though he probably knows better, bears no responsibility for what happened on January 6.”

Inside Elections rates the Colorado Senate race as likely Democratic.

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