Brown, Coakley square off in last debate

John O'Brien Jan. 11, 2010, 6:59pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and the two other candidates for a U.S. Senate seat had their third and final debate Monday night.

Coakley, Republican state Sen. Scott Brown and Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy met at the University of Massachusetts' Boston campus before the Jan. 19 special election that will determine the successor to the late Ted Kennedy.

Healthcare reform was a main topic early, with Coakley saying she'd be proud to be the 60th vote in favor of the Senate's current bill.

Brown, meanwhile, took the opposite stance.

"It is broken. The backroom deals in Nebraska and Louisiana we all know about," Brown said. "We need to start over."

Kennedy, who is no relation to the storied Kennedy political family, agreed, saying that votes are being bought.

A provision in the Senate-approved health care plan exempts Nebraska from having to pay Medicaid expense increases. The language was inserted into the bill to gain the support of Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, who offered the 60th and final vote late last month needed to pass the plan aimed at expanding access to health care.

A group of 13 Republican attorneys general led by South Carolina's Henry McMaster has been vocal in its intent to challenge the provision.

Also, Sen. Mary Landieu received $300 million in federal funds for Louisiana.

Coakley called herself a "conservative, fiscally responsible attorney general," saying twice that she has brought in $1 billion for the state since she took office in 2007.

Recent polls have shown Brown with anything from a 1-percent lead to a 15-percent deficit.

The Boston Herald live-blogged the debate and included a poll on who was winning. By the end of the debate, Brown was receiving 86 percent of the votes, Coakley 9 and Kennedy 5.

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