- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican gubernatorial challenger Bob Beauprez traded jabs on their leadership styles Tuesday during their second debate before November’s election.

Hickenlooper described Beauprez as someone more concerned about attacks.

“It seems to be speak first, make an attack, take a hard stand and then, you know, worry about the details later,” Hickenlooper said of Beauprez’s style.

Beauprez, meanwhile, says Hickenlooper is unwilling to make tough decisions, citing the governor’s indefinite stay of execution for Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted for the 1993 slayings of four people at an Aurora Chuck E. Cheese’s. Beauprez also mentioned Hickenlooper’s creation of a commission to look at how to resolve land-use issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

“John talks a lot about his desire to collaborate. I think that’s a euphemism for kicking the can down the road,” Beauprez said.

The candidates had a brief “Kumbaya” moment Tuesday evening during the debate hosted by The Denver Post when they shook hands pledging to run only positive ads - something Hickenlooper has promised in this and previous campaigns. Hickenlooper called negative campaign ads “a cancer.”

But polls show the race to be tied, and outside groups are spending lots of money on the contest, so don’t expect negative ads from other interests to go away any time soon.

The candidates touched on a variety of other issues. They included:

- Whether to give tax refunds to residents, as required under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when state revenue exceeds the combined rate of inflation and population growth. That’s something that’s imminent, and Beauprez said the state should refund the money. Hickenlooper said refunds make sense, but that the state needs to balance competing needs, such as possibly restoring funding that has been cut to public schools during the Great Recession.

- Both candidates agreed that there needs to be tighter regulation over the state’s medical marijuana registry, now that pot is legal for recreational use for those 21 and older.

- Beauprez was asked whether, if he’s elected governor, he would sign legislation to limit abortions to only when a mother’s life is at risk, which he has said is the exception he supports. Beauprez said “that’s a hypothetical I can’t answer,” but affirmed that he’s “unabashedly pro-life.” Later, Hickenlooper asked him if he would support expanding access to contraceptive devices, such as intrauterine devices, or IUDs, which are a common form of birth control. “IUD is an abortifacient,” Beauprez said, meaning something that causes an abortion.

- Hickenlooper said he doesn’t regret signing a package of gun legislation last year, including expanding background checks to sales online and between private parties, even though he’s been criticized for it and it led to the recall of two Democratic state senators. “In the end, as difficult as it’s been politically, I think it makes the state a safer place,” Hickenlooper said.

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Find Ivan Moreno on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IvanJourno


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