By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
MISSOULA – Just hours before his first debate with Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, Republican U.S. House Rep. Denny Rehberg delivered harsh condemnation of his November foe’s spending record and economic policies.
Rehberg, set to debate Tester in Big Sky on Saturday, told party loyalists here at the state GOP convention Friday night that he is the only candidate in the race able to bring common sense fiscal management to the U.S. Senate.
“If we return people like Jon Tester to the U.S. Senate and allow (Nevada U.S. Sen.) Harry Reid to remain the majority leader, what is the future of America?” Rehberg questioned.
“What is the future for our children as we try to build a more secure future for them?”
Tester and Rehberg are locked in a tight struggle to be Montana’s next U.S. senator and pollsters peg the race as a toss-up. The congressman, finishing his 12th year in the House, thinks his policies will win not only the election, but vastly improve the economy as well.
“You hear about Occupy Wall Street,” he said, giving a nod to the left-wing movement that sprouted less than a year ago, “as the Republican Party, we need to liberate Main Street.”
He offered that overreaching government regulation is strangling small businesses and slowing the badly needed economic recovery.
“We are at risk because of our economy,” Rehberg said.
Rehberg took Tester to task on the national debt added since he took office in January 2007, noting that in a 2006 debate, the Democrat complained that each U.S. citizen owed $28,000 on the nation’s proverbial credit card.
“Six short years later, he has saddled every man, woman and child with $50,000 in debt,” Rehberg said.
“Can we afford Jon Tester anymore? I don’t think so.”
Seeking to express how important he believes the 2012 elections to be, Rehberg offered that this could be America’s make-or-break moment.
“We are at a turning point,” he warned, “2012 is critical, 2014 may be too late.”
The country, Rehberg said, needs to return to principles of accountability and self-reliance to be successful.
“What does the Republican Party stand for?” he queried. “We clearly understand a hand-up, not a hand-out.”
Rehberg and Tester, along with Darby Libertarian Dan Cox, will debate at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Montana Newspaper Association’s annual convention.