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US Senate Candidates stress differences in debate

The three Minnesota U.S. Senate Candidates tried to make their differences in ideas clear in the second general election debate Saturday to a crowd of about 500 people at Breck School in Golden Valley, MPR reported.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Democrat Al Franken and Dean Barkley from the Independence Party, shared different answers when asked what they think the nation's biggest threat is.

Franken said terrorism poses the biggest threat to the nation, blaming Sen. Coleman for his support of the war.

"We started right. We went after al Qaeda and the Taliban but we didn't finish the job, and we got sidetracked to Iraq," Franken said. "And because we were sidetracked to Iraq we have made ourselves less secure."

Barkley said the growing national debt poses the biggest threat to America, attributing Sen. Coleman as part of the problem.

"We're the first generation of Americans who are going to leave our country in worse shape than we inherited it, but we can change it," Barkley said. " I mean how much more can we do? And 40 percent of that debt, Norm, was incurred on your watch."

Coleman said partisan bickering and gridlock in Washington poses the biggest threat to the U.S. right now.

Much of the debate was spent discussing the current financial crisis, similar to the first debate last weekend in Rochester.

Barkley and Franken criticized Coleman of falling down on his oversight duties. Coleman responded by saying that pointing fingers was not going to solve the financial crisis.

On foreign policy, the candidates agreed that the option of taking military action against Iran needs to remain on the table to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The candidates will meet for the third time next weekend in Duluth.