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Hickenlooper, Beauprez Spar on Marijuana, Student Loan Debt at CSU Debate

CSU Student Body President Samantha Guinn (right) asks both gubernatorial candidates about rising tuition costs for students.
Grace Hood
CSU Student Body President Samantha Guinn (right) asks both gubernatorial candidates about rising tuition costs for students.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beaupre squared off in an hour-long debate Thursday, hosted by the Coloradoan and 9News. In front of a packed audience in Colorado State University's Lory Student Center, the candidates discussed a wide range of topics from marijuana to curbing higher education costs, birth control and same-sex marriage.

Bente Birkeland recaps Gov. John Hickenlooper and former congressman Bob Beauprez's first live, televised debate for Morning Edition

The final topic on that list grabbed front page headlines nationwide when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals on the question of same-sex wedding bans.

Both candidates were asked what the next step should be for state government.

Hickenlooper said he didn't think that new state laws were needed.

"We do need to make sure we enforce the laws that are already on the books," he said.

Beauprez, an opponent of same-sex marriage, also said the law should be upheld. But raised concerns about how faith communities are impacted by the change.

Thursday's CSU debate audience had a mix of ages and wasn't just students.
Credit Grace Hood / KUNC
Thursday's CSU debate audience had a mix of ages and wasn't just students.

"If they embrace traditional marriage — one man, one woman — that those faith communities aren't discriminated against either," Beauprez said. "That their First Amendment rights are very much protected."

Both candidates used the debate to clarify political points. Hickenlooper, who has been criticized for his temporary reprieve for convicted killer Nathan Dunlap, said he would not grant him clemency. On birth control, Beauprez clarified an Oct. 1 comment at The Denver Post's gubernatorial debate in which he called IUDs, intrauterine devices, an abortifacient.

"I think women ought to have the choice for birth control, and I think women ought to have the choice of what kind of birth control they get. The place I disagree is who should pay for it. I don't think the taxpayers should pay for it," said Beauprez.

The candidates spoke in front of an older audience, but younger students dotted the crowd. In one of the only questions asked by a non-moderator, CSU Student Body President Samantha Guinn asked what both candidates would do to curb higher education costs for students.

Hickenlooper said there should be a limit on the amount of debt that in-state students take on when attending public universities.

"I mean, there should be a limit. If a kid went to a high school and they're going to one of our state universities. They should not be walking out with $125,000 in debt," said Hickenlooper.

Bob Beauprez said he was against the idea of government mandates, adding that technical education should be made more available to high school students.

"Many of our students are looking for a trade to join. Or to get in the technology industry, or the aerospace industry, or to become a contractor, or to build our houses, build our roads," said Beauprez.

Marijuana was another hot topic during the debate. The candidates were asked whether they thought legalization should be repealed in Colorado. Hickenlooper said it would be premature to put the issue to voters, stressing tighter state regulations and programs aimed at curbing abuse among teenagers.

"I think we have to put more resources to make sure kids and parents understand that it's not like sneaking a beer out when you're younger," said Hickenlooper.

Meantime, Beauprez said the issue should be put to a vote.

"We're at that point where the consequences we've already discovered than the liberty citizens thought they were embracing," said Beauprez.

Polling suggests both candidates are in statistical dead heat. The candidates' next debate will be in Colorado Springs Oct. 15.

You can view a live tweet recap of the Hickenlooper-Beauprez gubernatorial debate at CSU here.

Copyright 2014 KUNC

Grace Hood
[Copyright 2024 CPR News]
Bente Birkeland
Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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