Republican Senate hopeful Gilbert Baker on Tuesday criticized rival John Boozman for supporting a 2008 bailout of the nation's banks, and called on the Republican congressman to promise to oppose any future bailout packages.

Republican Senate hopeful Gilbert Baker on Tuesday criticized rival John Boozman for supporting a 2008 bailout of the nation's banks, and called on the Republican congressman to promise to oppose any future bailout packages.

Speaking at a forum held by the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Baker declared a failure the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program that Boozman and the rest of the state's congressional delegation supported. Boozman has said he supported the bailout to prevent a meltdown of the nation's financial system.

"The TARP vote was wrong for Arkansas, it was wrong for America and that $700 billion is a price tag that my children and my grandchildren are going to have to pay," Baker, a state senator from Conway, said at the forum.

Baker later issued a statement urging Boozman to promise not to support any more bailout packages. While Baker has repeatedly criticized the vote, he has mostly shied away from directly criticizing Boozman for supporting it.

Most of the eight Republican candidates hoping to claim Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln's seat appeared before the bureau as it held a daylong forum with candidates for federal and state office. The bureau represents more than 227,000 farming families around the state. It doesn't endorse candidates in political races.

Earlier Tuesday, Boozman said that if elected to the Senate he would continue fighting against the 10-year, $938 billion overhaul of the nation's health care system that President Barack Obama signed into law. Boozman voted against the health care bill and a companion measure that passed the House and the Senate.

"We lost the battle," Boozman said, "but I don't think we lost the war."

Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, faces a tough re-election fight as she seeks a third term. Lincoln and her chief rival for the Democratic Senate nomination, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, planned to speak to the group later Tuesday.

Most of the Republican Senate candidates focused on the health care measure and on the federal deficit as they tried to appeal to the farming group.

Fred Ramey of Searcy, a Republican running for the Senate seat, pledged to push for an end to the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. While Arkansas has conducted limited trade with Cuba under federal law, rice and poultry producers have sought to end the embargo entirely.

"I can't really see that it's done any good," Ramey said. "A prosperous Cuba, I believe, will someday be a free Cuba."

State Sen. Kim Hendren, a Republican candidate for Senate, tried to connect with the group by touting his experience as a farmer.

"On my farm, if a cow doesn't perform, I take her to the sale barn," Hendren said. "I'm not sure that's what shouldn't happen to some of our politicians who have served the last decade or so in Washington."