Daniel Coats in 2010 IN Senate Debates

On Principles & Values: YouTube video: "Don't tell Hoosiers I'm a Tar Heel"

Ellsworth scored his biggest points at the end of the debate when he reminded voters that Coats had lived, voted and paid taxes for the past decade in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He pointed to the infamous YouTube clip in which Coats, who left the Senate in 1999, asked a group of North Carolina Republicans not to tell Hoosiers that he owned a home in the Tar Heel state and planned to retire there.

"I never left Indiana," Ellsworth, a former county sheriff from Evansville, said in contrast. The critique irritated Coats, who had brushed off Ellsworth's criticisms for most of the evening but now stood on stage shaking his head. "You can shake your head all day long," Ellsworth said. "You said it."

"Brad," Coats said, sounding exasperated, "it was a second home."

Source: Indianapolis Star coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 27, 2010

On Free Trade: Trade barriers would hurt Indiana

Ellsworth said Coats, who previously represented Indiana in the U.S. House and Senate, shouldn't have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement because it cost the state jobs. Coats said open trade is important, and that trade barriers would hurt the state.

Coats said Ellsworth's support of Democratic programs such as the federal stimulus and health care overhaul are taking the country in the wrong direction.

Source: Washington Post coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 25, 2010

On Immigration: Voted for amnesty 26 years ago; against a dozen times since

Ellsworth also criticized Coats for voting for an amnesty proposal for illegal immigrants, though Coats said he does not support amnesty. "To come home to Indiana after this many years and say he's totally against it is disingenuous," Ellsworth said.

Coats, the son of a Swedish immigrant, said he has cast 12 to 15 votes against amnesty since the vote Ellsworth referenced. "That was 26 years ago," Coats said.

Source: Washington Post coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 25, 2010

On Social Security: Save Social Security from itself; increase age & more

Coats said Social Security needs to be "saved from itself" and suggested increasing the retirement age and looking at other options to fix the program.

Ellsworth said now isn't the time to raise the retirement age and that putting more people back to work would put more money into the system. Raising the retirement age would be fine for those who work at desks but "it's not fine for somebody who's on the end of a jackhammer," he said.

Source: Washington Post coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 25, 2010

On Gun Control: 1991: voted for Brady Bill & background checks

Both support extending tax cuts for small businesses. Both are also anti-abortion and in favor of gun rights.

Ellsworth even earned an endorsement from the National Rifle Association because Coats voted in 1991 for the Brady Bill to institute federal background checks for most gun purchases.

Coats said he earned an endorsement from the Indiana and National Right to Life organization, mostly because Ellsworth voted for a health care law that did not prohibit taxpayer money being used for abortions.

Source: News & Tribune coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Principles & Values: There's a lot of enthusiasm for change in Washington

Coats has criticized Ellsworth for voting in favor of the health care overhaul and stimulus programs. Ellsworth believes the stimulus legislation prevented a worse situation. "We made drastic improvements to save us from going into a depression," Ellsworth said.

Coats said voters are unhappy with federal government, and he accuses Ellsworth of being lockstep with his party leaders. "Clearly, a lot of Hoosiers are not happy with what's come out of Washington these last two years. 90% of what's come out has been supported by my opponent," Coats said. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for change in Washington."

Ellsworth said Coats' claim that he has voted in line with Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 90% of the time is misleading He said those votes could include anything from naming a post office to honoring a sports team. "I have one of the most independent voting records in Congress, and I had a more conservative voting record than four Republicans," Ellsworth said.

Source: News & Tribune coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Energy & Oil: Accused of benefiting as lobbyist from pushing cap-and-trade

Coats and Ellsworth had a particularly testy exchange during a question about energy policy, even though both agreed there should be more investment in clean energy.

Ellsworth alleged Coats pushed for the cap-and-trade legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions during his former role as a lobbyist. "Even though Mr. Coats comes back to Indiana and tells Hoosiers he's against the legislation and it would be devastating and a job killer, what if it would have passed, Mr. Coats?" Ellsworth said. "We would have put Americans and Hoosiers out of work based on your lobbying efforts."

Coats responded that Ellsworth was wrong but didn't elaborate.

Source: Boston Globe coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Energy & Oil: Don't pick winners & losers in biofuel; pick nuclear instead

The candidates were asked about clean energy and whether they could support incentives for biofuels and wind energy. Coats said the country needs to expand its use of natural gas and nuclear energy to become more independent and lower costs. "If we want clean energy and low cost energy, we need to develop nuclear power," something he said can be done safely.

But Coats said governments must be careful not to choose the winning and losing technologies by subsidizing selected options. "Government and subsidies and politics destroys the whole process," he said.

Ellsworth said the nation needs to invest in a whole range of energy options--including nuclear power, wind and solar, and clean-coal technology. But Ellsworth said opposes President Barack Obama's cap-and-trade energy bill, which he fears will lead to higher rates for Hoosier households and businesses.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Principles & Values: Accused of lobbying for whatever issue paid the most money

Ellsworth attacked Coats for the years he spent lobbying in Washington saying the former senator took stands on issues--including the bank bailout and stimulus funding--based on who paid his law firm the most money. "That's not right for Hoosiers," Ellsworth said. "We need people who stand up for us, for Hoosiers and base their decisions on what they hear only from the people back home."

Coats battled back, saying that it was his law firm--not him personally--who represented clients on those issues. He pointed instead at Ellsworth, saying that the Democrat's votes for the bailout, health care law and stimulus bill put the country in almost insurmountable debt. "I can understand that someone who went to Washington talking like a conservative here at home--but followed the agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama nearly 90% of the time--would not want to come home and talk about that," Coats said.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Tax Reform: Open to the FairTax, but no VAT

Ellsworth said after the debate that Congress needs to consider taking away some of the hundreds of tax breaks, exemptions and other provisions that force small business owners to hire accountants to determine what they owe the government.

Ellsworth said he'd met with advocates for the FairTax, a proposal to essentially wipe out all existing federal taxes and replace them with a 23% sales tax. Individuals and businesses need "to know what to expect for years" from their tax bills, Ellsworth said.

Coats said he's open to the FairTax--but as just one idea among many to explore for making the tax code easier to understand. The tax system needs to be "fairer, flatter, simpler, and there a number of proposals out there that are sensible to take a look at." But Coats said he could not support a value-added tax, a kind of tax common in Europe that taxes products and services at different stages of production.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Commitment to no new spending unless offset & paid for

Coats said the nation is facing serious problems with the economy as it enters the third year of the recession. "We have not seen light at the end of the tunnel," said Coats. "We have a long way to go."

President Barack Obama's "summer of recovery" has been anything but, Coats said. Coats lambasted Democrats for spending at a pace that's unsustainable and piling up debt the nation cannot pay back. "There has to be a commitment to no new spending without it being offset and paid for," said Coats. "No more swiping the credit card and pumping and using debt to finance new spending."

This election, Coats said, needs to be relative to restoring the economy for future generations.

Source: Evansville Courier Press on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 13, 2010

On Principles & Values: Accepted lobbying job after adjournment but still in Senate

Ellsworth criticized Coats for deciding to take a lobbying job before his last term in the Senate expired in 1999. "While he was in Congress, he was negotiating the deal," Ellsworth said. A month before his term ended, Coats' Senate office announced his plans to join the firm Verner-Liipfert.

Coats appeared to claim he accepted the lobbying job only after leaving office. "I said, 'Under the laws, I'm not able to negotiate anything.' In fact, I took a month off after I left because I didn't even want t think about what was next," Coats said.

What's clear is that on Oct. 17, 1998, press reported that the firm was "quite intrigued by Coats." Coats' Senate office announced that the deal was done on Dec. 3. On Jan. 3, Coats' Senate term ended. In Feb. 1999, Coats began working for the firm, earning a salary over $400,000.

Coats' campaign said the former senator simply misspoke. By "after I left," the campaign says he meant after Oct. 21, when the Senate adjourned and Coats was through casting votes.

Source: Evansville Courier Press on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 13, 2010

The above quotations are from 2010 Indiana Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Indiana Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts by Daniel Coats.
Click here for a profile of Daniel Coats.
Daniel Coats on other issues:
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
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Page last updated: Nov 01, 2010