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April 9, 2013

Markey, Lynch spar at UMass Lowell

Drone strikes, health care among topics in U.S. Senate debate

BOSTON (AP) — The two Democratic candidates in the state’s special U.S. Senate election sparred on drone strikes, student debt, health care and campaign spending during a debate Monday at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch both decried soaring student debt and campaign spending by outside groups, and said the country should be more cautious with its use of drone strikes.

An Associated Press review found campaign spending by outside groups has topped $1.25 million in the race, with most of this money supporting Markey.

Lynch was particularly critical of California billionaire Thomas Steyer, who has called on Lynch to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run from western Canada to Texas. Steyer has targeted Lynch with a campaign that includes airplanes trailing banners over Boston.

Lynch said just because Steyer is a billionaire, it doesn’t mean he gets to “push people around.”

“I’ve faced bullies my whole life and I won’t put up for that,” Lynch said.

Markey has also called on Steyer and other groups to stay out of the race, saying it shows the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which paved the way for a flood of campaign cash from corporations and unions.

Markey and Lynch have signed a “people’s pledge” designed to discourage radio, television and Internet ads and political mailings by outside groups.

Markey said the oil pipeline isn’t in the country’s best interests, while Lynch says he’s waiting for an environmental report before making a final decision.

The two also discussed student debt and drone strikes.

Lynch said he finished school with $80,000 in student loans and fell behind at one point. He said he’s co-sponsored a bill that provides for lower interest rates on student loans.

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