Candidates face off, but not face to face 6th District hopefuls hold separate-session 'debate'

Campaign 1996

November 01, 1996|By Frank Langfitt | Frank Langfitt,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

It's tough to debate the issues when only one candidate is in the room.

But that was the situation last night on Maryland Public Television (MPT) as Western Maryland Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett and Democratic challenger Steve Crawford broke with tradition and appeared in separate question-and-answer sessions.

During 15-minute solo appearances, they defined their differences on issues such as taxes and gun control.

Bartlett, a scientist, farmer and inventor, said he saw no evidence that gun control laws reduce crime -- he voted to repeal a federal assault weapons ban -- and said he supported tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

"Every time we have reduced the capital gains tax, we have had more revenue," said Bartlett.

Crawford, a lecturer in public policy at the University of Maryland College Park and a Vietnam veteran, said he sees no need for assault weapons in society and is cautious about offering a large income tax cut.

"We have to get our fiscal house in order before we go giving ourselves a bunch of desserts and candies," he said.

Last night's program was markedly different from the seven earlier congressional debates aired on MPT over the past two weeks in that neither candidate had an opportunity to rebut the other.

The peculiar format came about because Bartlett, a two-term incumbent, failed to appear Monday for a taping at MPT studios in Owings Mills. Crawford went ahead and taped his segment. Bartlett, who blamed his absence on a mistake by a former scheduler, taped his segment Wednesday.

Crawford blamed House Republicans for last winter's shutdowns the federal government. He also accused them of voting to cut Medicare, which provides medical care to the elderly, to give a huge tax cut to the rich.

"My opponent supported these extreme measures," said Crawford, 53, who lives in Frederick.

Expecting the attack, which Crawford has made many times during the campaign, Bartlett complained in his segment that Democrats had misled and tried to frighten the elderly.

"The Democrats are gaining so much advantage by lying that they are probably going to keep on lying," said Bartlett, 70, who also lives in Frederick.

Bartlett said the GOP was not trying to cut Medicare but was attempting to provide seniors with more choices for health care service in hopes of reducing prices.

Crawford and Bartlett are competing to represent the 6th District, which includes Carroll County, most of Howard County and all of Western Maryland.

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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