Skip to main content

Murkowski: Other candidates not ready, not fit

By Ed Payne, CNN
Click to play
Senate candidates debate in Alaska
  • The election is scheduled for November 2
  • Polls: Murkowski and Miller are tied
  • Top candidates are Republicans

(CNN) -- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a write-in candidate to keep her job in Washington, slammed her competitors for the state's Senate seat as unqualified in a televised debate from Anchorage Sunday.

Murkowski is locked in a tight race with Joe Miller, the GOP nominee who defeated her in the Republican primary, and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams, the Democratic Party's candidate.

"Scott is not ready to lead. Joe is not fit to lead," Murkowski said to groans and jeers from the audience.

"I have been leading this state for eight years and I will continue to do so, bringing the seniority I have built, the work ethic that I have built, and the passion for a state that I love," she continued. "Fill it in. Write it in."

Murkowski's jab came during her closing remarks at the end of the debate. Neither Miller nor McAdams was able to respond directly, although earlier in the debate Miller said, "I've not had a silver spoon" -- a reference to Murkowski's appointment to the seat in 2002 by her father Frank Murkowski, who was governor of Alaska at the time.

Miller defeated Murkowski in the August primary with 51 percent of the vote. He enjoyed strong support from Tea Party activists and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Murkowski first conceded, but later launched a write-in candidacy.

A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows a deadlocked race between Murkowski and Miller among likely voters at 37 percent. McAdams trails with 28 percent.

Much of the debate focused on the federal deficit and its likely impact on Alaska.

McAdams called for a 3 percent cut in all discretionary spending by Washington, but gave no program-trimming specifics.

"You don't balance a federal budget on the backs of kids, on the backs of rural communities, on the backs of seniors, while we continue to give tax cuts to the richest one percent of multimillionaires and provide tax loopholes to multinational corporations," he said.

McAdams suggested removing the federal cap on Social Security taxes, which currently stops at $106,000. He said the added revenue from taxing higher incomes would make the system solvent for another 75 years.

Murkowski called for cuts in entitlement programs.

"If we're really going to cut the spending, if we're really going to deal with the deficit, it has to be with entitlements," she said. "That's where you can make the real reductions and it is hard and it is difficult, but it needs to be done."

Miller advocated bringing state resources to market, especially restricted oil drilling fields, to replace expected lost federal funds.

On illegal immigration, Miller endorsed a border fence between the United States and Mexico, saying the federal government has the responsibility to provide a secure border. He also said he supports an Arizona law which requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect that they're in the United States illegally.

Murkowski said Arizona shouldn't have to figure out how to secure the border, but disagreed with Miller on the notion of building a fence.

"We should not be looking to East Germany as a model for our security and border enforcement," she said.

"Last time I checked, East Germany was no longer a nation," Miller shot back.

"We can't build a fence that's high enough," Murkowski countered.

McAdams said there should be no wall on the Mexican border, but also said there should be no laws that promote racial profiling.

"We do need to enforce the laws we have on the books," he said. "We do need to secure our borders."

The election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2.