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Clinton touts Carmona after Arizona Senate debate

Associated Press Modified: October 11, 2012 at 3:45 am •  Published: October 11, 2012

"There are a lot of Richard Carmonas out there today. And they all deserve a chance at their dreams," Clinton said.

During the debate, Carmona charged that Flake's fierce opposition to special funding requests known as earmarks has hurt economic development in Arizona. He said business leaders and a mayor in metro Phoenix have complained that Flake's ideological opposition to earmarks for roads, public-works and water projects has hurt efforts to attract new businesses to the state.

Flake has portrayed Carmona as a hand-picked rubber stamp for Obama.

The Libertarian candidate, Victor, focused on government spending and said both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for increasing the size of government. "They have caused the problem," Victor said.

Flake touted his opposition to earmarks as a move away from patronage and a move toward basing funding for projects on merit. "Arizona is far better without earmarks," Flake said.

Carmona said some earmarks aren't government pork spending, but rather an investment in communities.

Flake and Carmona agreed that Medicare needs to be overhauled, but they differed on how to go about it.

Flake supported a GOP budget authored by Ryan that would change how future Medicare beneficiaries now under age 55 would get health care coverage. Ryan's plan would provide future seniors with subsidies to help buy a private health plan or buy coverage through a government-run program modeled after the current system.

Carmona said he opposes Ryan's plan because it transfers financial risks from the government to seniors and that seniors with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure will have difficulty getting coverage. Carmona proposed reducing health care costs for the elderly by focusing more on preventing diseases and by getting rid of more waste and fraud.

One clear difference between the candidates is on immigration.

Carmona said he admires Bush and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy for their attempts at legislation to toughen border security and give illegal immigrants already in the United States a pathway to citizenship.

Flake in the past also has supported comprehensive immigration reform but adopted a narrower position on immigration when he announced his Senate candidacy last year.

Carmona said his GOP opponent changed his position to appeal to voters, while Flake said he eventually concluded that no one will trust the federal government to fix America's immigration woes until border security improves.

Other debates among the Senate candidates are scheduled for Oct. 15 in Tucson and Oct. 25 in Yuma.