WINDSOR-CSU’s two alumni candidates for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, Democratic challenger Angie Paccione and incumbent Republican Marilyn Musgrave, faced off in a debate Tuesday at Windsor High School before a packed 1,000-seat auditorium.
Alongside reform candidate Eric Eidsness, the two debated issues based on 15 questions asked by moderator Bob Lawrence, a former Colorado State political science professor.
The candidates were given the categories before the debate, but not specific questions.
Topics of debate included the war in Iraq, immigration and social issues such as gay marriage.
Musgrave was quick to mention that she has “a little bit of skin in the game” – “skin” being a son in the military as well as a son-in-law who served in Afghanistan.
Though the war has not gone “as well as we’d hoped,” Musgrave was against the immediate withdrawal of troops.
“If we would leave now, we would embolden the terrorists,” she said. “We would send a horrific message to Iran and Syria.”
Musgrave added that, along with Duncan Hunter, chairman of the Armed Service Committee, she has signed on to a letter encouraging Iraqi leadership to send Iraqi forces into Baghdad.
Sending Iraqi troops into battle, Musgrave said, would “test (the Iraqi troops’) mettle, and hopefully see that they are going to be able to stand on their own two feet.”
If the Iraqis could hold their own in Baghdad, Musgrave said, then American troops could safely be removed from the area.
Paccione advocated immediate removal of American forces from Iraq, and said the war has gone on too long to be sending letters.
“Are you kidding me? (Signing Congresswoman Musgrave’s letter) should have been done four years ago,” she said.
Paccione went on to state that the United States should not be in Iraq-“We should be in Afghanistan, hunting down Osama bin Laden. He was the one who master-minded the attacks on our country, and he’s the one we should be going after.”
She added that “we’ve made a mess of Iraq,” and then called for new leadership, including the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and said that a new mission must be in place.
Eric Eidsness said the number of troops in Iraq should have been doubled, but also said that “We’ve broken too many promises, and lost too many casualties through collateral damage and other actions of our forces.”
Eidsness then suggested that leadership enter into negotiations with “regional and Iraqi interests” to foster an agreement and quickly remove United States troops.
Illegal immigration was also debated.
Musgrave mentioned an experience traveling to El Paso, Texas to speak with border officials. There, she said, a fence has worked to deter illegal immigrants.
She praised a bill passed before she left Washington to build a 700-mile fence at the US-Mexico border.
“That fence will protect our children from drug dealers and gang members,” she said.
Paccione emphasized the need for secure documents as a step to more secure borders. She said employers should be held accountable to make sure their employees are legally in the United States, but that many documents are easy to counterfeit.
An illegal immigrant only needs “a good scanner and a good printer” to forge a social security card, she said.
Paccione also said that a fence at the border isn’t enough, and that those who wanted to could get around it.
Same-sex marriage was also batted around.
Musgrave stated that it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in the room that she supports “traditional marriage-the union of one man and one woman.”
She then said that such a partnership shapes the ideal environment for child-raising.
Paccione emphasized that she is in favor of equal rights for everyone.
“No asterisks, no parentheses. Every American should have equality under the law.”
She added that threats to marriage include divorce, infidelity, domestic violence and a loss of jobs.
“Marriage is not a threat to marriage,” she said.
Staff writer Geoff Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.