(NEWS CENTER) - The candidates for each party are in place, and now they're looking to make themselves known.
Six Republicans are looking to replace Senator Olympia Snowe, there are also four Democrats, one Independent and one Libertarian.
The Democrats are:
- current State Senator Cynthia Dill
- former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap
- State Senator Jon Hinck
- businessman Benjamin Pollard.
Saturday night, those four candidates went head-to-head in their first formal debate at the Portland Club in Portland.
They were asked a series of questions on a variety of topics, including, the Affordable Healthcare Act, Syria, LIHEAP, and nuclear power. The candidates also had the opportunity to ask one another questions before making their closing statements. Here's what they had to say on the subject of the federal deficit, and what they would and would not be willing to cut from the budget.
Hinck offers, "I don't think to do it responsibly we can have too many sacred cows. I think we are going to have to do everything. We are going to have to increase taxes and cut spending. The spending cuts are going to have to touch everything."
"I think it's just and fair that having reaped the economic benefits, and much of it is directly government spending, it's what's being called crony capitalism and those individuals and corporations should be responsible for reducing the deficit," explains Pollard.
"In the spirit of being consistent with budgetary processes I would offer up the Bush tax cuts as a likely thing to be cutting out of the federal budgets," says Dunlap, "and I don't say that in any way tongue in cheek the problems we have today are routed in the growing inequality in the tax code."
Meanwhile, Dill supports "definite reductions in the military budget. On the flip side for revenue I support reforming the tax code so that everybody pays their fair share. We're paying the lowest income taxes that we have in many years."
Democratic analyst Ethan Strimling watched the debate. His takeaway: "I would have liked to have heard a little more about sort of the contrast about how it is when they get into the race with former governor King and a republican how they are going to set themselves apart. I think it's very important that the democratic nominee show how they can win this race and how they're going to take down someone like Angus King who is a very substantive candidate."
6 Republican candidates will have a series of forums in the coming weeks.