Roraback said he favored extending the Bush-era tax cuts for a year for everyone while the tax code is reformed. He said raising taxes would hurt small businesses.
Esty said she wanted to extend the cuts for the middle class. She said Republicans want lower taxes for the wealthy but offer no specifics on spending.
Roraback called himself a fiscally prudent, socially moderate independent lawmaker, saying he would not support efforts to privatize Medicare because health care costs would exceed vouchers. But Esty repeatedly tried to tie him to national Republicans, including vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, saying he would vote to put them in leadership positions to enact their agenda.
Roraback criticized the health care law signed by President Barack Obama, saying it will cost $1 trillion over the next decade and leave 30 million people with no health care coverage. Esty expressed support for the law, saying it would allow children to remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26 and prevents insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Esty, an attorney, served one term in the Connecticut House, from 2009 to 2011. Esty and her husband, Dan, a Yale University professor and the commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection under Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, have three children and live in Cheshire.
Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.