By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Major-party candidates competing for the 2nd Congressional District sparred Monday during a televised debate over issues ranging from job creation and a nuclear Iran to earmarks, health care and the national debt.
Both candidates, Republican Markwayne Mullin and Democrat Rob Wallace, agreed the choice between them was clear. Neither mentioned Michael G. Fulks, the independent third choice who was elbowed out of the debate.
Mullin attempted to tie into the sentiment of voters who want to see President Barack Obama booted from office. Wallace said it is about trust and conjured an image of his Republican rival as someone whose positions change from day to day.
“You definitely have a clear choice come Nov. 6, and we are choosing not just our future but we are choosing for the generation behind us,” Mullin said during his closing statement. “We are going to be choosing the president’s agenda to get it more to a socialist style country, or we are going to be choosing to go toward the republic our founding fathers set up.”
Wallace said between him and Mullin, he is the only candidate who has staked out clear positions and stuck with them throughout the election cycle.
“You have got to make a decision about who you trust … who has from the beginning of the campaign staked out clear positions with regard to the issues and not wavered from them,” Wallace said. “I have never said get government out of Social Security’ and then say keep the promise … secure the border then refuse to use E-verify …”
Wallace and Mullin split on government’s role of job creation. Mullin said government needs to “get out of the way.” He continued to hammer away at his message of over-regulation, which he claims costs him 40 cents of every dollar his company earns.
Wallace said government has a “direct impact on creating an atmosphere in which job creation takes place.” He said government must invest in people with regard to education and training and focus on “making consumers comfortable with spending again.”
“The expansion of the middle class is the key to expanding the economy,” Wallace said. “Consistently we have seen that when we pour money into Wall Street and expect for it to trickle down to Main Street, it never gets to us.”
Both candidates said they would stand with Israel in opposition to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry. Mullin appeared more hawkish, saying it could be time to move to Plan B, while Wallace said sanctions in place appear to be working.
The candidates also split on health care, with Mullin repeating his call for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Wallace criticizing its deference to the health care and insurance industries.
Mullin said he could eliminate the national debt through spending cuts.
“The government has proven they are not responsible with the money we are sending up there,” Mullin said, noting he would raise taxes on nobody. “Why should we send them more money?”
Wallace, who also opposed tax increases, said a growing economy is the only way to reduce the deficit. He said when families have money to spend, it creates a demand that fuels new jobs, a better economy and broader tax base.
“That helps us grow the economy at the middle–class level, not at the Wall Street level,” Wallace said. “We could cut the entire discretionary budget and it would still not balance the budget.”
In response to a question about who is best suited to represent the 2nd Congressional District and why, Mullin cited his plumbing and farming experience and his ability to surround himself with a good team. Wallace cited his expertise with the technical nature of government as his strongest point.
Mullin and Wallace will face off with Fulks Tuesday, when voters go to the polls.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or firstname.lastname@example.org.