Saturday, October 21, 2000

Lucas, 3 foes trade views without heat

Issues prevail in debate for KET

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEXINGTON — The debate Friday between candidates running for Northern Kentucky's U.S. House seat was much like the campaign itself — low key and little heat, but a frank discussion of the issues.

        The four candidates — Democratic incumbent Ken Lucas, Republican Don Bell, Green Party candidate Ken Sain and Libertarian Alan Handleman — discussed Social Security, tobacco, trade, abortion and the economy during the hour-long debate, broadcast Friday on KET statewide television.

        The only mild confrontation came when Mr. Bell, an Oldham County Republican, criticized Mr. Lucas' vote for normalizing trade relations with China, which Congress approved earlier this year.

        “(U.S.) Senator Jim Bunning said voting for that was putting profits ahead of people,” said Mr. Bell.

        But Mr. Lucas, a Boone County Democrat seeking a second term in the 22-county 4th District, defended the vote by saying Kentucky's burley tobacco farmers want to be able to sell tobacco in China. “... The burley tobacco farmers were for that,” he said.

        Unlike two years ago, when the race between Mr. Lucas and Boone County Republican Gex Williams was one of the most watched in the nation, this year's race has received far less attention. Mr. Lucas has out-raised his opponents by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

        But Mr. Sain of Covington and Mr. Handleman of Carter said they have new ideas that are worth exploring.

        Mr. Sain said he would pay more attention to the people “who have been left behind” by the booming economy.

        He also said despite his views supporting abortion, legalizing marijuana and controlling guns, he feels he provides a voice to voters disenchanted and disinterested in the major parties.

        Mr. Handleman discussed his plan on reducing the size and even eliminating some parts of the federal government.

        He also called Social Security “a Ponzi scheme” that won't be solvent past the year 2034.

        Mr. Bell said he would favor a plan being pushed by Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush that would allow a small portion of Social Security taxes to be invested in the stock market.

        He also said he is “pro life” and against abortion, despite comments he made to the contrary in 1990.

        In a newspaper article pub lished when Mr. Bell ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate 10 years ago, he said that abortion should be considered in some instances such as the safety of the mother's life, rape and incest, a position that runs counter to the powerful anti-abortion lobby in Northern Kentucky.

        “The decision,” Mr. Bell told The Oldham Era then, “should be made by those involved, plus the religious leader and physician, not the government.”

        Mr. Bell said he has since changed his position and pointed out he has been endorsed by Northern Kentucky Right to Life.

        Mr. Lucas said if reelected he will continue to push for health-care reform legislation, including a prescription-drug benefit and a patient's bill of rights.


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