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Published October 02 2010

Hoeven, Potter trade shots in final debate

In their final planned debate before Election Day, the two leading candidates in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race traded shots over who was avoiding the specifics on policy issues.

Throughout a half-hour taped debate Friday with Prairie Public Broadcasting in Fargo, Democratic-NPL state Sen. Tracy Potter accused Republican Gov. John Hoeven of repeatedly evading specific answers.

“The governor generalizes about things; he doesn’t actually get down to specifics,” Potter said about midway through the debate, as the candidates discussed how to cut federal spending.

Hoeven addressed Potter’s attacks in his closing statements, saying, “I lay out one specific after the other, and you say, ‘I don’t get the specifics.’ ”

Hoeven said his approach is one of empowerment, and it’s a mantra that he repeats often on the campaign trail and echoed again several times when responding to answers during Friday’s debate.

“I have an approach that empowers people and entrepreneurs and small business,” Hoeven said. “That’s what we need to get our economy going.”

Early on in the debate, Hoeven and Potter took jabs at the other over who had the stronger ties to national party leadership.

As in their previous debate, Hoeven likened Potter to the Democratic trio of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration.

Potter retorted Friday, saying Hoeven only repeats Republican talking points and stays on that message.

“But nowhere does that message miss more widely than when it’s aimed at (me),” Potter said. “I am the most independent member of the North Dakota Senate, and I can prove it statistically.”

Potter said Hoeven has demonstrated partisan ties through his appearances this year in North Dakota alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.

Hoeven and Potter previously debated Sept. 23 in Fargo, and they reiterated their policy positions on a variety of topics again Friday.

They have no more debates planned, although Potter challenged Hoeven once again Friday to agree to future debates.

When to watch

What: “Face to Face: N.D. U.S. Senate Debate”

When: 5 p.m. today; 12:30 a.m. Monday, and 2:30 p.m. Oct. 31

Where: Prairie Public TV statewide

Other programming: Prairie Public Broadcasting also will feature libertarian Senate candidate Keith Hanson of West Fargo in a separate taped program. That is scheduled to air statewide:

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541