In recent and Newtown, Republican candidates seemed to agree with overall concepts, but at least three of the candidates appeared to twist the words of their competitors.
Clashes were especially sharp between State Sen. Andrew Roraback, who received the endorsement of the party convention in May, and Justin Bernier, a tax consultant who claims to be the most conservative of the four candidates.
Roraback used the debate as an opportunity to link entrepreneur Lisa Wilson-Foley to disgraced former governor John Rowland, who is the focus of a federal grand jury probe in which he received $5,000 a month as a consultant to her husband, Brian, while nominally a volunteer for her campaign.
Wilson-Foley replied that the allegations were unfounded and she was confident that "the truth will prevail."
In response to a question whether conservatives could win elections in liberal Connecticut, Bernier agreed with the others that Fifth District voters in northwest Connecticut weren’t liberal, however, he added that he thought Roraback was.
Bernier also attacked Roraback for backing a "cap and trade" plan to reduce air pollution and promote energy efficiency, which has drawn opposition by conservative Republicans.
Roraback replied he supported the plan, known as the Greenhouse Gas Initiative, because it provides credits to help small businesses save energy, and implied that Bernier didn’t care to help small businesses.
Bernier also attacked Roraback for refusing to sign a pledge not to raise taxes and for a proposal to let illegal aliens vote in elections.
Roraback said the proposal was to let legal aliens vote, and he would not rule out closing tax loopholes even though tax pledge advocate Grover Norquist defines that as a tax increase.
The exchanges between Roraback and Bernier grew hot enough for Roraback to call Bernier a liar during the Newtown debate.
When it came time for the candidates to ask one of their rivals a question, Greenberg, Wilson-Foley and Bernier all aimed theirs at Roraback.
"Andrew, you must be the smartest person in the room, because everyone keeps asking you questions," quipped Bernier.
Then he asked a question implying that Roraback supported gender-based abortions, to which Roraback said he would not vote for a law he knew was unconstitutional, even to restrict abortions because the parents didn't want a boy or a girl.