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Politics

Contentious Final Debate Between Peters, DeMaio

Congressman Scott Peters and challenger Carl DeMaio meet for the final debate on KUSI on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.
KUSI
Congressman Scott Peters and challenger Carl DeMaio meet for the final debate on KUSI on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014.

The two former San Diego councilmen are vying for San Diego's 52nd Congressional District seat

Democratic Congressman Scott Peters and Republican challenger Carl DeMaio met for a contentious final debate Thursday, just five days before the election.

The two former San Diego city councilmen are fighting to represent the 52nd Congressional District, which runs north from Coronado to La Jolla, and then east to include Carmel Valley, Scripps Ranch, Poway and Rancho Bernardo.

One of the tensest moments in the hour-long debate hosted by KUSI came from a discussion of student loans.

DeMaio said he wants to increase access to student loans.

"I will continue to fight for the economic opportunities and the educational opportunities that allowed me to go from being an orphan at 13 to working a full-time job through college with the support of student loans and scholarships, starting my own company from nothing and then selling it at age 34 for millions" he said.

"Today, if I were to try to do the same thing over again given today's realities, today's taxes, today's regulations, I'd fail. I wouldn't be able to afford a college education. I wouldn't be able to get a full-time job, let alone a part-time job right now."

DeMaio said he was able to make something of his life by relying on government programs, and he wants to make sure the next generation has the same opportunities.

Then Peters brought up a report DeMaio wrote in 2003 for the libertarian organization Reason Foundation called the Citizens’ Budget. Peters said DeMaio argued in the report to "slash financial aid for students in the Cal State system."

The candidates in each of the five congressional races in San Diego County.

DeMaio said it's the Reason Foundation's report, not his, and he only "contributed ideas" to it.

Peters held up the report and said, "It has your signature on it."

DeMaio said there were other authors who contributed chapters to the report.

In another tense exchange, DeMaio attacked Peters for voting during his time on the City Council to increase taxes and for supporting Proposition D, a city of San Diego sales tax proposition that failed in 2010.

"Why couldn't you balance the budget? Why did you eliminate after-school programs? Why did you cut library hours?" DeMaio asked.

Peters responded: "We balanced the budget every year. We increased public safety spending annually by over 40 percent in both police and fire. We used those resources responsibly."

The discussion was one of the few in the debate that covered new ground.

Peters and DeMaio also traded jabs over whether they accepted government perks, whether they are divisive political leaders and whether they helped or hurt the San Diego's economic stability — all topics that have been covered in previous debates.