October 14, 2008 in City

McMorris Rodgers, Mays go toe to toe

Debate focuses on party loyalties
By The Spokesman-Review

Tune in

Watch the debate Thursday at 7 p.m. on KSPS Channel 7 or listen to it on KJRB 790. Afterward, find a link to it at s-r.com.

With the president’s approval rating near Nixonian levels, it should come as no surprise that U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ challenger would try to tie her voting record to the Bush administration.

“Cathy supported President Bush’s philosophies 95 percent of the time. I don’t think he’s 95 percent right,” Democrat Mark Mays said during Monday’s debate between the candidates at the KSPS-TV studio in Spokane.

But when the congresswoman got her chance to ask Mays where he would diverge from the policies of Democratic Party leaders, he had to reach back for an answer.

Mays said he disagreed with the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s resolution last fall denouncing the 1915 Armenian genocide in Turkey at time when the United States needed Turkish support for the war in Iraq.

“I think I would be much more aware of issues that are more practical and pragmatic when it comes to world affairs,” Mays said.

The most pointed disagreement of the debate focused on McMorris Rodgers’ opposition to the federal bailout of Wall Street, a vote she called the most difficult of her four years in Congress.

She said nothing in the legislation addressed the reasons for the economic meltdown or aimed to reform lending practices.

Mays said he would have supported the rescue plan to avert catastrophe.

“What would be the alternative?” he asked. “We’re talking about the collapse of the American economy.”

Asked whether she supported a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, McMorris Rodgers would not be pinned down.

“We are seeing success in Iraq, and we’re getting closer to everyone agreeing on what those next steps are as far as really starting to bring our troops home,” she said, attributing gains in Iraq to the military surge and the stamina of U.S. troops.

Mays, a veteran, said support for U.S. policy in Iraq doesn’t equate with support for military personnel.

“I think it’s important to know that supporting our troops does not mean supporting our troops remaining in Iraq,” he said, adding that the U.S. military would be put to better use in Afghanistan, “where we have a real threat.”

Both candidates called for greater use of alternative energy to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

But while the Republican called for more domestic drilling now, the Democrat balked at drilling in environmentally sensitive areas for what he called “minimal benefit” that wouldn’t be felt for decades.

The candidates had trouble coming to terms even on the weather.

Though McMorris Rodgers acknowledged global climate change, she said, “The fact of the matter is scientists do not agree as to the impact of humans on creating the global warming.”

Mays responded that “even President Bush has come to agree that human behavior has increased carbon output,” contributing to global warming.

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