October 15, 2010 in City

Minnick, Labrador trade barbs at debate

Jessie L. Bonner Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Republican Raul Labrador, left, Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick, center, and independent Dave Olson, attend a debate Thursday at the Idaho House Senate auditorium in Boise.
(Full-size photo)

BOISE – Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick called for bipartisan solutions to cure the nation’s economic woes even as he and his Republican challenger, Raul Labrador, traded sharp barbs during a debate Thursday.

Minnick and Labrador all but bickered over negative ads each side has launched against the other for the first half of the televised debate, their only public forum together before the Nov. 2 election.

Labrador, an attorney and two-term state lawmaker from Eagle, called Minnick “shameful” for airing negative ads that attacked Labrador’s work in immigration law and told voters he profited from illegal immigration.

Minnick then blasted Labrador for his new campaign ad, which targets Minnick’s voting record and support for a pair of bills passed this summer that spent $68 billion to preserve teaching jobs and open credit to small businesses.

While the bills had support from some Republicans and are not designed to be paid for by adding to the federal deficit, Labrador’s ad characterizes both pieces of legislation as “stimulus spending” and flashes pictures of Minnick alongside pictures of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama.

“To say that I’m a Nancy Pelosi clone and that I voted with the bailouts, you know that’s not true,” said Minnick, a fiscal conservative who represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

Independent candidate Dave Olson chastised Minnick and Labrador for not talking enough about the issues and what they would do to limit the federal government’s reach.

The debate, which aired statewide on Idaho Public Television, was marked with heated exchanges between Minnick and Labrador over illegal immigration. But there seemed to be little difference in their stances on the issue.

Minnick said the nation needs to secure its borders, ensure employers hire legal workers and implement a temporary worker program. He also proposed a system where illegal immigrants would come out of hiding and go before a judge, who would determine a penalty whether it be jail or deportation, and then provide them an avenue toward legal status.

Meanwhile, Labrador called for the enforcement of existing immigration laws, securing the border even if it means deploying the National Guard to do so, and the implementation of a guest worker program. In the Idaho Legislature, he co-sponsored a bill that sought to punish businesses caught knowingly hiring illegal workers. The measure failed.

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