Exactly one week after K.T. McFarland officially entered the GOP senate campaign, she appeared with rival John Spencer for the first time last night in upstate New York.
A crowd of about 150 people watched the town hall-style event and the two Republican candidates discuss the issues. McFarland told the audience that "I will run on the same principles I watched Ronald Reagan run on, which is lower taxes, less government and a strong national defense," but Spencer claimed that "When you hear about a Ronald Reagan Republican, I lived it."
McFarland also somewhat clarified her earlier equivocation over how she would have voted for the October 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Where she had once told Chris Matthews that she didn’t know how she would have voted, she now says that "I’m sure I probably would have voted for that resolution," even though "I didn’t have access to the classified information, so I’m a little awkward assessing exactly how I would have looked at that."
She did differ with the administration by arguing that more troops should have been sent to Iraq in the first place: "Ultimately, we only sent in about 150,000 troops," she said, adding that when Turkey declined to be used as a staging area, she would have been concerned.
Spencer reiterated his steadfast support of the war and the president, and criticized Sen. Clinton for first voting to go to war and then criticizing the president’s handling of it, accusing Hillary and her fellow Democrats of "ripping our nation apart."
In terms of actually winning the election against Hillary, McFarland noted that there are five Democrats for every three Republicans in New York, and that she will be better able to reach out to these types of voters: "I think as a woman, it’s easier to do that," she claimed.
But Spencer was having none of that, arguing that his conservative philosophy could rally the Republican base and defeat Hillary, and dismissing polls which show the junior senator with a huge lead against him with a somewhat unfortunate violent image: "I just give the polls and the pundits the back of my hand," he said. "I know this myth that’s out there that Mrs. Clinton cannot be beaten is just that, a myth."