McCain, hands down

"Obama is too risky. McCain has the courage and judgment to protect America in a dangerous world." says John Andrews in the October round of Head On TV debates. Susan Barnes-Gelt scoffs at the GOP candidate as "McPain... a pander bear" who would be an "erratic and unfocused" president. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over the US Senate campaigns, legislative races, and the ballot issues, with a trick-or-treat twist for Halloween. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are all five scripts for October: 1. OBAMA OR MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT?

John: Barack Obama is a remarkable man. His candidacy is a credit to America. But his ideas are too extreme, and he’s simply not ready to lead. John McCain is ready. McCain warned about the mortgage mess that Democrats were creating. McCain has the courage and judgment to protect America in a dangerous world.

Susan: Poor old John McCain - hasn't decided if he's a maverick or a pander bear - canceling his campaign to swoop into DC to solve the economic meltdown and ultimately voting for a bill with more blubber than an Alaskan moose pie - no disrespect Ms. Sarah Barracuda!

John: Clever jabs are for the summer silly season in politics. This is decision time. Obama’s huge tax and spending plan will only worsen the economy. His naivety about our enemies is unbelievable. His radical friends worry me too. Obama is too risky. McCain gets my vote.

Susan: Voters have spent more than a year vetting Barack Obama through bruising primary battles and press scrutiny. John McCain's campaign - all tactics, no roadmap - reveals how erratic and unfocused his administration would be. Shoot, fire aim - that's McPain.

2. SENATE RACE IN COLORADO

Susan: No surprise, polls suggest the race between Mark Udall and Bob Schaffer is tightening. The mud fest has damaged both candidates but in the current environment voters will be skeptical of Schaffer's plan to reform social security by privatizing accounts. This is no time to elect a radical like Schaffer.

John: Susan, that’s moonshine. Bob Schaffer will do Colorado proud in the US Senate. This guy is Mr. Integrity. If Ronald Reagan had hailed from Fort Collins, stood tall in Congress, and had three kids in uniform, he’d be Bob Schaffer. Boulder liberal Mark Udall is Obama in hiking boots. Way out there.

Susan: Bob Schaffer is hot headed, angry and argumentative. His bullying personality is unsuited for leadership and his extreme right-wing political perspective is out of tune with Coloradans more moderate values. Mark Udall has the temperament and experience to solve problems - not create them.

John: If 60 senators are Democrats, the big blue states can ignore the rest of us out here in flyover country. A vote for Bob Schaffer is a vote to prevent that. Colorado is better off with one senator from each party. My guy is Bob.

3. VOTE R or D FOR LEGISLATURE?

John: Voting for President is important, but the state legislature may have more impact on our daily lives. Republican running for state House and Senate provide a counter-balance to keep Bill Ritter from taking Colorado too far left. Taxes, spending, energy, and immigration all need that common-sense Republican influence.

Susan: The politics of polarization has failed - look at Washington DC. Our legislature is hamstrung by too many citizen-initiated mandates. What's needed are policymakers committed to the state's future. That means strategic investments in education, infrastructure and people. Reject ideologues - on both sides of the aisle.

John: The ideologue we need to reject is Ritter, with his wacky energy ideas and his labor union agenda. Unfortunately he’s not up this year. But every state House member and half the state senators are up, and to keep Ritter on the reservation we need to elect a Republican majority.

Susan: The underreported race for CU Regent in CD 6, pits Dem AJ Clemmons, an accomplished, civic leader, who will bring the accountability and transparency to CU, against Repub. Jim Geddes, a tired political hack who has been fined - repeatedly - for failing to file campaign disclosures. Vote A J. She'll pay attention.

4. BALLOT ISSUES

Susan: Colorado's ballot is littered with special interest initiatives that don't belong in our constitution. Vote No for all but 59. SAFE creates a savings account for public education, preserving your right to vote on tax increases. If you believe in Colorado's future, vote yes on 59.

John: Not a good idea unless you’re feeling really rich. 59 is a tax increase that cost us billions. Who needs that in this economy? 58 is a tax on energy. Referendum O is a sneaky transfer of power from citizens to politicians. Vote with care, neighbor.

Susan: Vote Yes on Referendum O, making it tougher to put special interest initiatives into Colorado's bloated Constitution. SAFE, Initiative 59 is exactly what Colorado needs to ensure we maintain a first rate educational system and have resources to fund transportation and public safety. Yes on 59 & Ref O.

John: That road leads to a weaker economy and bigger government. No thanks. Instead let’s say yes on 46 for colorblind laws, 47 to curb union power, 48 to protect the unborn. Also yes on 52 for better roads, yes on 49 and 54 for honest government.

5. HALLOWEEN FOLLIES

John: This endless campaign is one long Halloween night. TV ads portray Schaffer as Dracula and Musgrave as Cruella deVille. You’d think Bush was the undead, running for a third term. Obama’s out there in his Messiah costume, and Biden is this year’s Lurch. Save us all, Great Pumpkin!

Susan: Our stumbling economy promises more tricks than treats for Halloween. The Bush / McCain agenda - tax breaks for the rich and unregulated financial markets - predict a stormy fall. Bats in the belfry will be all too evident in the weeks to come.

John: Why so serious, Susan? All those candidates with their disguises and noisemakers are like a masquerade ball at the funny farm. No need to scare yourself at a haunted house – just flip the channels and watch a few political spots. It’s all so entertaining. Candy corn, anyone?

Susan: The global economic meltdown is no laughing matter. The McPainiacs are living proof that the cukoos nest isn't endangered - but alive and well, migrating from Alaska to Arizona. Who says extreme climate changes aren't damaging to the environment? I'll pass on the nuts, thank you.