(Updated 4:29 p.m.) “Why don’t you tell us what you will do when you get into office rather than how bad your opponent is,” a frustrated AARP member asked the candidates Thursday.

The question came during a gubernatorial debate in Hartford that was hosted by the AARP, whose members make up about 40 percent of Connecticut’s electorate.

Republican candidate Tom Foley threw up his hands and thanked the unidentified person for the question, which went to Democratic candidate Dan Malloy.

Malloy proceeded to defend the attacks he has hurled at Foley.

“Because we need to have the truth out here,” Malloy said. “When somebody stands before you and denies that their health care plan had the language that I read—you gotta wonder.“

Malloy then attempted to answer the question more directly.

“You know what we’re going to do, we’re going to get this state going again. I’m not running to be the captain of the Titanic. I’m running to launch a new ship,“ Malloy said on a more positive note. “After all I have the body of experience and middle-class values that are necessary to understand how badly people are hurting right now.”

Foley said he’s okay with contrast ads which allow an opponent to say what he will do and compare it to what his opponent will do as long as the representations are truthful.

“It has to be truthful and it has to be balanced,” said Foley, who painted himself as an outsider without ties to labor unions.

He said it should be balanced with comments about what the candidate will do if he is elected. “I don’t think we’ve met that standard in this race,” Foley opined.

He said his recitation of the number of jobs lost in Stamford was truthful.

Stamford lost 13,843 jobs from 2000 to 2009. Malloy was mayor from 1995 until 2009.

“He doesn’t want to tell you that from 1995 to 2007 Stamford was the only city that had actually grown jobs and retained more jobs than they had in 1995,” Malloy said after a previous debate.

Malloy countered by bringing up the Georgia textile mill that Foley’s management company, NTC Group, ran.

“You were the chief executive the day it filed for bankruptcy and the next six weeks,” Malloy said Thursday. “You have one company owning another company taking fees even as it was going down the drain.”

“See what I mean,” Foley chuckled.

“So let’s be very honest with these folks,“ Malloy said. “You know senior citizens they can take the measure of someone and they actually can tell who is telling the truth.”

“Parsing words over who delivered the pink slip doesn’t make the job come back,” Malloy said.

Malloy also questioned Foley’s integrity over his self-funded campaign and wondered what promises he will make, or deals he will cut in order to pay himself back the $5 million he has loaned his campaign. Malloy has received $8.5 million public funds for the primary and general election, which Foley uses to paint him as a partisan with ties to state employee unions.

“Dan there is no intention to go out and raise money to pay back these loans,” Foley said. “There are legal reasons to make loans to campaigns rather than contributions when you’re self-funding.”

“I’m very proud I have $5 million to loan to my campaign,” Foley said.

“Don’t begrudge the success of thy neighbor,” he added quoting Abraham Lincoln. 

But the statement is a departure from what Foley has previously said about the $5.3 million he has loaned his campaign. The money is being reported to the State Elections Enforcement Commission as a loan and not as money he is giving the campaign without the expectation of being paid back.

In a phone interview Thursday Foley said the money is being categorized as a loan because if there’s any money left after the campaign in the account, he’d like to get it back. If he didn’t categorize it as a loan then any money left in the campaign committee would be returned to the state’s public financing system, which Foley despises.

“This appears to be a slip-up on Tom Foley’s part, and I expect his campaign team will run in overdrive today trying to clean it up,” said Malloy’s campaign manager Dan Kelly.  “However the fact remains – this potentially raises serious legal questions Tom needs to answer about the money he supposedly lent to his campaign but has no intention of paying back.”

Early on in the forum Foley and Malloy did talk about their desire to lower electricity rates and both agreed senior citizens and residents on fixed incomes should be getting subsidies to help them pay the bills. It was unclear exactly where the money for those subsidies would come from.