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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Giffords, Bee cover national issues”

    The UA hosted the first televised debate on Saturday over Congressional District Eight, where two grade school pals, democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and republican Arizona State Senator Tim Bee, discussed their goals for the upcoming November election.

    The candidates were asked questions by a panel of local journalists in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center, where the topics ranged from labor union benefits and health care to mining and illegal immigration in southern Arizona.

    Incumbent Giffords has held the congressional position for two years, while Bee, also a third-generation southern Arizonan and former family business owner, seeks to inherit her position.

    “”I’m running because I believe the future of our nation and the direction we will go will be decided in this election cycle, and I believe this Congress has failed the people of this nation,”” Bee said. “”I also believe good ideas come from both parties and that we must work together to find solutions.””

    Giffords voiced her hope for the election that she could continue serving a district working to “”tackle tough problems”” like a failed energy policy, health insurance coverage and provide solutions to high tuition and low wages.

    The opponents agreed on many issues but showed slight differences in areas such as immigration policy and energy reliance.

    Giffords honed in on the need for more reform and a review of internal enforcement by looking at the checkpoint system already in place to see if it was actually doing its job. She said, “”Building a wall across the entire expanse of the Mexico-Arizona border is not going to solve the problem.””

    Bee said he did not support Giffords’ plan to allow illegal immigrants to vote in union elections, would not support keeping border patrol out of the Santa Cruz Valley areas where they are not allowed to pursue illegal immigrants crossing, and opted for a guest worker program.

    “”We need a temporary guest worker program that allows workers from foreign nations, through a legal system, to have opportunities to work in the U.S.,”” Bee said. “”I believe that would cure about 90 percent of the problem and allow our border patrol to focus on the small amount of human smuggling and drug smuggling.””

    Many who attended the debate thought both opponents played fair, and did well covering questions that the audience wanted answered.

    “”I thought it was great for the community, but of course, I love this stuff,”” said Mike Despain, a coordinator for a bipartisan political information website on campus called Project Vote Smart.

    Despain said the candidates touched on important issues he cared about such as immigration, andProxy-Connection: keep-alive
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    e expressed the need for a greater focus on health care.

    “”It would be nice to have affordable insurance and coverage that actually covers me in Arizona and not in Montana,”” he said.

    Dan Sullivan, one of the panelists for the debate and a political science and journalism senior, said he thought both candidates “”did the best job they could,”” and the breadth of topics covered was an important aspect of the debate.

    “”I would say the questions were chosen on a national basis rather than they were local to the eighth district,”” Sullivan said. “”I thought that was a good thing to be able to give it a sort of national feel rather than just a local feel so it had a broader focus.””

    Giffords and Bee exhibited such local concerns when they discussed failed policies they had seen from the Bush administration.

    “”This administration has taken record surpluses and turned them into record debts and record deficits,”” Giffords said. “”And I’m worried about the next generation.””

    Students also felt they got a clear picture of how the candidates stood on the issues.

    Ry Ellison, a business management junior and president of the UA College Republicans, said one important distinction that stood out for him was the incumbent’s neglect to focus on off-shore drilling, as well as alternative resources.

    “”There’s a clear difference in support of an ‘all of the above’ application, which means they’re not only looking at one (energy solution), but all of them,”” Ellison said. “”Gabrielle Giffords said she supports both methods, but when she’s had the opportunity to support it in Congress, she hasn’t. So she can talk the talk, but she simply doesn’t walk the walk.””

    Giffords rebutted by stating that a bill was in effect this week and delayed because of a focus on the effects of Hurricane Ike; but next Tuesday a bill would be passed that would take steps toward a more energy-efficient economy.

    “”You will see a comprehensive energy bill pass out of the House of Representatives,”” Giffords said. “”This bill is truly a compromise; we’re opening up and expanding drilling on the agri-continental shelf; we’re cracking down on speculators that are driving up the cost of oil; we are looking at making sure we put together the future, which is conservation – the future, which are renewables.””

    James Jefferies, a political science senior and president of the UA Young Democrats, said he thought that although immigration and energy were two of the “”hot button”” issues, his candidate is doing well to focus on this energy source.

    “”It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Tucson should be, like, the solar energy capital of the world,”” Jefferies said. “”So she’s got a handle on these things pretty well.””

    As both candidates finished their closing statements, Bee reminded the audience that Giffords and himself went back as far as kindergarten and a 5th grade performance of Pinnochio, which they both starred in.

    “”But that’s what America is about – it’s the opportunity to debate ideas and that’s what we presented tonight, and I just want you to know that I believe in America,”” Bee said. “”We have a very bright future as a nation, but we have great challenges that are facing us, and we must bring Americans together to solve those challenges.””

    The idea of better unifying the country was also one that Giffords said would be key in the election and something everyone would need to think about regardless of the election’s outcome.

    “”We have a lot of challenges ahead and we talked a lot about them tonight, and I agree with my opponent on many of the issues,”” Giffords said. “”Ultimately, whether it’s an Obama administration or a McCain administration, that individual is going to be inheriting a terrible, terrible problem, and it’s one we’re all going to have to step up to work on to fix.””

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