BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne wasted no time taking off the gloves at Tuesday's governor's forum sponsored by the Coalition for Common Sense and Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch.
"I want to welcome Sen. Vitter for a cameo appearance at one of these forums. He occasionally makes one or two, and I'm glad he's here with us today," said Dardenne in his opening statements.
In U.S. Senator David Vitter's opening statements, he said trial lawyers have spent $4 million in ads attacking him and supporting the other three major candidates.
"Trial lawyers are actively giving to all of the other campaigns including about a quarter of $1 million to Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne," said Vitter.
Dardenne used some of the debate to respond to several issues pointed out in ads run by Vitter's campaign.
One ad campaign accused Dardenne of a 60th birthday bash saying, "Dardenne took a lavish trip to Europe, and then handed Louisiana taxpayers the bill. Dardenne also brought his wife and biggest campaign donors to Europe."
"I made those trips as part of my responsibilities as lieutenant governor, and let me say very clearly to you, I paid for my wife to accompany me on those trips. You didn't," said Dardenne. "Those trips overseas, two of them, that cost a total of $11,000, not $34,000, that was the expense for me to go two places, and it increased international visitation in Louisiana by 26 percent, the largest percentage increase in America. You're seeing an awful lot of lies on TV."
"People can go look up the documents for themselves, for instance on the trip ad that he was talking about, it's all documented at
lieutenant.com," responded Vitter. "Official public documents that lay it out."
"I'm voting in Washington. I have obligations around the state. I've done 35 forums in the governor's race," said Vitter in response to Dardenne's criticism that he rarely shows up for debates. "I think we've had more forums in this election than any other previous statewide election by far. This week alone, I'm doing three statewide televised debates or forums."
Vitter's campaign confirmed late Tuesday that he has declined taking part in WAFB's governor's debate on Monday, October 19.
Scott Angelle and John Bel Edwards were not in attendance because of scheduling conflicts.