Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHouse Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D-Colo.) and Republican Ken Buck sparred Sunday over government spending, deficits and the policies of President Obama, but the meeting between the two candidates on NBC's "Meet the Press" was ultimately dominated by Buck's answer to a question on homosexuality. 

Buck said Sunday he thinks homosexuality is a choice, a remark on which Bennet's campaign immediately jumped after the debate. 

Asked during the debate if he believes being gay is a lifestyle choice, Buck answered, "I do." 


When pressed on whether or not there is some element of biology, Buck said he believes, "You can choose who your partner is. I think that birth has an influence over it just like alcoholism and some other things."

Speaking with reporters after the debate, Buck attempted to clarify the answer and noted the social issues that come before the Senate are "fairly narrow."

"I said I thought there was some element of predisposition, and I thought there was some element of choice," Buck said on his comments on homosexuality. "I'm not a biologist, and I haven't studied the issue, but that's my feeling on the issue."

The Republican went on to say he wasn't equating homosexuality with alcoholism or suggesting that being gay is a "disease."

"I was talking about predisposition," said Buck. "I wasn't talking about being gay as a disease. I don't think that at all. What I meant was that I think there are a variety of factors." 

Buck also noted that in hundreds of interviews over the course of the campaign, it was a question he has never been asked. "Colorado voters aren't focusing on whether it's a choice," he said. 

The Bennet campaign immediately seized on the comments, blasting out a video of Buck's comments shortly after the debate concluded with the subject line, "BUCK COMPARES BEING GAY TO ALCOHOLISM."

"I don't believe that myself, and I found the rest of the answer deeply troubling," Bennet told reporters after the debate. 

Buck also pushed back against charges that he has softened some of his positions since he defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton in the Republican primary. Bennet has accused his GOP rival of walking back his stances on issues such as the so-called fair tax and the 17th Amendment. 

"Fifteen times, with a Democratic tracker camera in my face I explained that I wasn't in favor of repealing the 17th amendment," said Buck. "It's not fair to say that I have backtracked on those issues."

During another exchange between the two candidates on the question of the economy and extending the Bush tax cuts, Buck repeatedly spoke of "growing government." He meant to say "growing the economy," and caught himself after Bennet retorted, "I'm definitely not interested in growing government."

On an extension of the Bush tax cuts, Buck said he wants them paid for with spending cuts. Bennet argued for a year-long extension of the cuts across the board "in part to figure out how to pay for them."


Buck continued to paint Bennet, who was appointed to the seat after Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) resigned to take a post as Secretary of the Interior, as someone who gives only lip service to the independence that characterizes Colorado's electorate, while falling in line with the president and the Democratic leadership in Washington. 

Even though Bennet has tried to distance himself from the president, he defended his "yes" votes  Sunday on the stimulus and healthcare. 

"That stimulus package saved us from going into a second Great Depression," said Bennet.

In recent days, Buck has also faced questions over a case he declined to prosecute in 2005. Asked about the case Sunday, in which a college student accused her ex-boyfriend of rape, Buck argued there simply wasn't enough evidence to move forward. 

The alleged victim released a tape of her meeting with Buck about the incident, during which Buck told the student the evidence suggested it was consensual and labeled it a case of "buyer's remorse."

Buck defended his handling of the case Sunday, noting it was reviewed by numerous attorneys in the DA's office who all reached the same conclusion — there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute the case. Asked if he regretted the way he approached the alleged victim in the case, Buck said he did not, noting that it was his duty as a prosecutor to "explain the circumstances."

"I don't regret the way I talked to her," said Buck. "I think it's important as a prosecutor to approach the victim with a certain amount of reality." 

Bennet said he thinks the case should be an issue in the contest, hitting Buck for using the language "buyer's remorse." 

"I do think it's an issue," said Bennet. "He just used the language again, 'buyer's remorse.' As a father of three little girls, I just think that's the wrong way to talk about it."

-Updated at 11:21 a.m.