Keyes, Obama talk Iraq, health care at first debate

U.S. Senate candidates Alan Keyes and Barack Obama faced off on domestic and international issues Tuesday night in their first debate.

WBBM political editor Craig Dellimore, Channel 2 political reporter Mike Flannery and Illinois Radio Network News Director James Anderson moderated the debate.

There were no time restrictions on responses, but moderators were permitted to stop the candidates.

Keyes, the Republican candidate, and Obama, the Democratic candidate, discussed their positions on foreign policy regarding the war in Iraq, the nuclear threats from North Korea and Iran and international trade agreements.

Keyes said preemptive action was necessary in Iraq and he supported President George W. Bush’s policies.

“I think the administration has acted comprehensively against a comprehensive threat,” Keyes said.

Obama, an Illinois state senator for eight years, has said he opposed the war since before the invasion of Iraq. During the debate he said he would advocate different reconstruction tactics in Iraq.

“We have to rapidly advance the speed at which we are training Iraq troops,” Obama said. “I think it’s important that we get our reconstruction moving.”

Keyes and Obama debated domestic issues such as rebuilding Illinois’ infrastructure, reforming health care and shrinking the federal deficit. Both candidates said they saw the need for health care reform. Keyes said he supports educating consumers on generic drugs.

“We will find ourselves killing the goose that kills the pharmaceutical golden egg,” said Keyes.

Obama said he advocates more affordable health care for seniors.

The debate was broadcast live from the Old State Building in Springfield, Ill. The next debate will air live Oct. 21 on WLS Channel 7.

— Shira Toeplitz