"I'm no one's pet, and I intend to be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate," Delaware's Democratic Senate candidate, Chris Coons, declared emphatically on MSNBC Wednesday, referencing a recent utterance from the gaffe-prone Majority Leader Harry Reid who called the New Castle County executive "my pet." "That was a very unfortunate choice of words by Senator Reid," Coons told "The Daily Rundown's" Chuck Todd.
Coons cited two specific examples where he disagrees with the White House, saying he opposes the president's offshore drilling proposal and added, "I strongly disagree with how the banking bailouts were handled. I think the TARP bill, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was passed in a hurry without any accountability and hasn't been administered properly."
The Democrat also would not rule out bucking his party on whether or not to extend all of the Bush tax cuts, though he clearly prefers a middle-class-only approach favored by the president.
"Our first priority is to reduce the tax burden on the middle class," Coons said, saying he opposes extending cuts for the wealthy, but then when asked if he would vote for a temporary extension of the cuts, he said he would consider it if it was the only provision offered.
Echoing a concern about deficits often trumpeted by his opponent, Tea Party-backed GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell, Coons said, "If we're going to extend the Bush tax cuts further, I think we need to find a way to target them, make them sustainable, and talk honestly about the impact on our deficit."
Coons' interview on a national network comes just hours after O'Donnell swore off all such interviews to Fox's Sean Hannity, favoring a state media-based approach.