Last Friday evening, six of the seven declared candidates for the Republican nomination for Congress in Virginia's Fifth District came together for a forum sponsored by the Lynchburg and Jefferson Area Tea Parties. The candidates' forum took place at the Lane Auditorium in the Albemarle County Office Building in Charlottesville.
The forum was carried live on the radio on WCHV-AM 1260 and -FM (94.1) and that station's morning host, Joe Thomas, welcomed the audience and introduced the participants, including moderator Robert Tracinski, editor and publisher of The Intellectual Activist.
Keith McGilvery covered the debate for WVIR-TV (NBC29) in Charlottesville:
Within minutes, talk turned to health care, where the candidates thought it had gone wrong, and how they would fix it.McGilvery noted, as did others, that state Senator Robert Hurt did not participate in the forum alongside his six opponents for the GOP nod. A playful effigy of Hurt, however, was erected on the dais. Surprisingly, Hurt's absence (and the presence of his cardboard image) was only mentioned once or twice by the other candidates, who chose to focus on the issue-oriented questions that were posed to them by moderator Tracinski.
Candidate Michael McPadden says, "I don't see where the federal government has any role in mandating any sort of healthcare reforms, we can do this via free market reforms, there's a number of things we can do."
A number of candidates at the tea party sponsored showdown argued that creating competition is key.
Candidate Ron Ferrin said, "The bottom line is, my philosophy in government is capitalism is the cure and that is exactly what we're talking about to cure health care."
Candidate Feda Morton says, "We do need to be able to have access to insurance across state lines to make competition between the different insurance companies, so people can compete and choose the insurance they want."
Laurence Verga says, "The health care system needs to move from an employer based system with a limited amount of companies buying insurance to an open market system."
Ken Boyd said, "We need to move out there to the people and let them negotiate for their own health care, that's just one step in the right direction."
One candidate made the case that keeping an eye on our borders could help curb costs. Candidate Jim McKelvey says, "again, shut the borders illegal immigration is a huge burden on our health care system, and it needs to stop."
Brian McNeill, a reporter for The Daily Progress, noted a few of the candidates' other responses in a story on GoDanRiver.com:
Each was asked what his or her top priority would be if elected to Congress with a GOP majority.The whole discussion lasted about 90 minutes, and I was able to capture virtually all of it on video, which I had to upload to YouTube in small bites. (That is why the Democratic blog, Blue Virginia, has just two segments posted within its report on the event.)
Ron Ferrin, a businessman from Campbell County, said he would try to erase everything passed so far during the Obama administration
“I would propose the Liberty Recovery Act of 2011 that would repeal everything that Obama was going to induce in his first two years of office,“ he said.
Michael McPadden, a commercial pilot from North Garden, said he would seek to boost economic activity by cutting taxes and reducing government spending. “You want jobs in this country, then you cut taxes,“ he said. “Cut the size and scope of the federal government."
Laurence Verga, a private real estate investor from Ivy, said he would slash a long list of taxes, including corporate and small business taxes, as well as the estate and capital gains taxes.
Verga said the voters deserve better than the “devastation of Tom Perriello” when it comes to the economic problems facing the district. “We can and we will do better,“ he said.
Jim McKelvey, a Franklin County real estate developer, said he would reduce the size of the federal government by 20 percent and bring to the floor of Congress a bill that would implement the so-called FairTax that would eliminate federal income taxes and replace them with a retail sales tax.
The candidates were asked if they disagreed with any actions undertaken during the George W. Bush administration.
Verga said he objected to the Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout, the McCain-Feingold limits on campaign finance and the No Child Left Behind education reform.
Feda Kidd Morton, a Fluvanna County biology teacher and GOP activist, said she opposed the bank bailout and also the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was actually signed by Bill Clinton in 1994.
“I go back to NAFTA, definitely. NAFTA is draining our jobs overseas,“ Morton said. “I would take NAFTA off the table and bring our manufacturing jobs and businesses back into this country."
McPadden also looked to earlier administrations for his sources of criticism. “I’d go back to the Carter administration, get rid of the Education Department first,“ he said. “Go back to the Clinton administration, AmeriCorps has got to go. Go back to the Bush administration, TARP funding has got to go. And no funding for ACORN ever."
Albemarle County Supervisor Kenneth C. Boyd told the crowd that he has a decade’s worth of experience reducing government spending and balancing budgets.
“We need someone willing to step up, cut spending and balance the budget,“ he said. “That’s something we’ve done here in Albemarle County."
Boyd said he, too, would take drastic steps to reduce the size of the federal government.
“The federal Department of Education should be done away with,“ Boyd said, saying it is unconstitutional.
Here is the complete discussion, in eleven parts:
Part I is the introduction by Joe Thomas and Robert Tracinski:
Part II includes the opening statements by the six candidates:
Part III has the answers to Tracinski's first question,"Would you consider opposing a bill for no other reason than that it grants powers to the government that are not specifically authorized by the Constitution?":
Part IV has the answers to the moderator's second question,"What should we do about health care?":
Part V begins a "lightning round," with two questions requiring answers just 30 seconds long. The first question of the two asks what should be the top priority of a Republican-controlled Congress after next November's elections; the second asks, "What legislation or other measure would you reverse ... from the Bush administration?":
Part VI also includes two questions, "What is the most important thing the government should to to get people back to work?..." and "What will you do to defend [the right to work]?":
Part VII continues the fast-track questions, with one on "cap-and-trade" and the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide, and the other on the candidates' favorite or most influential philosopher or thinker:
After a short intermission and the announcement that the audience had 400 people in it, Part VIII returned to questions requiring a 90-second answer. That question focused on what the candidates thought about the Tea Party movement.
Part IX continues with an answer to the question asked in Part VIII; Michael McPadden's response didn't fit into the 10 minutes allotted to a video clip by YouTube:
The question in Part X assumes there is a Republican majority in the 112th Congress and looks back at the 1994 GOP takeover, asking how the candidates would vote if there was a conflict with a Democratic president like the budget showdown in 1995 between Bill Clinton and the House under the leadership of Newt Gingrich.
In Part XI, the final segment, Robert Tracinski asks about "big middle-class entitlements," namely Social Security and Medicare.
A straw poll taken after the candidates' forum gave Mike McPadden a strong lead at 56.2 percent. Full results can be seen at Virginia Fifth District Watchdog.
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