Although they had just a few minutes to make their case, Fourth Congressional District candidates Joe Kennedy III and Sean Bielat touted their experience and ideas in a Fox25 debate earlier Wednesday morning.
The live debate, which was moderated by Fox25 news host Gene Levanchy, lasted less than 15 minutes. This was the final scheduled television appearance for Bielat and Kennedy before the Nov. 6 general election.
Bielat, a Norfolk Republican, is running against Kennedy, a Brookline Democrat, to replace the retiring Fourth District Congressman Barney Frank, of Newton. The winner will represent Foxborough in Congress.
Keeping with a theme that has run throughout the campaign, Bielat and Kennedy sparred on experience and whether Kennedy's name has carried him through the election.
"I think experience matters, and I don't think Joe has it," Bielat said.
Bielat served as an officer in the Marines and said he has "spent most of the past decade" in business. He also heads up the internet startup OneClickPolitics.com.
Kennedy stood by his record as a prosecutor for Middlesex County and the Cape/Islands as well as his work in the Peace Corps. He also emphasized his public appearances across the district.
"From day one, it is my name on the ballot and I have to go out there and earn people's respect and hopefully their support, and the only way to do that is by knocking on doors," said Kennedy, who was endorsed by the Boston Globe today.
But Bielat responded with a criticism of Kennedy's appearances, saying that he has turned down offers from "19 different [media] hosts" and has not held any town hall-style meetings.
"[Kennedy] is hoping that this name and money is enough...and that if he can stay quiet enough, he'll get in," Bielat said.
Kennedy, though, argued that Bielat's focus on his experience and family name is just a way to move away from the issues facing voters.
"When it comes to the actual issues in the race, Sean's on the wrong side," Kennedy said. "Each time he brings it back to my family and my experience and I think it's just another distraction."
The candidates were also asked about their opinion on casinos in Massachusetts, and whether they would support one here in the Fourth District. Both candidates said they would be in favor a casino if it also had the support of the local community.
Bielat then shifted the focus of the debate to taxes, saying that he supports lowering taxes and creating "pro-growth policies" that would help businesses in Massachusetts.
Kennedy also addressed his view on taxes, saying he stands behind the "The Buffet Rule" and increasing taxes for wealthy Americans.
In his closing statement, Bielat focused again on Kennedy's experience, saying that he hopes voters will go into voting booths on Nov. 6 and consider candidates' qualifications.
"Look at what Joe's offering, it's not a whole lot," Bielat said. "It's not qualifications, it's not ideas, it's a bunch of talking points, it's a lot of money...what we need right now in Washington is people with experience."
As he finished the debate, Kennedy underlined his belief that the government can help create a "framework" to bring equal opportunity to every citizen, something that he said is "at stake" in this election.
"I believe in a society where each of us has access to that opportunity and where each of us has to do our part to make America prosperous for generations to come," Kennedy said.