Project Red, White and Blue
Arguments, accusations and applause: CD3 candidates debate
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - With four weeks to go before the election, candidates running to represent Southern Arizona in Congress aren’t holding back. They debated Tuesday night, hurling arguments and accusations at each other in front of lively, applauding audience.
Hundreds attended the Congressional District 3 event, held at Pima Community College West. Many audience members were there to support and cheer on their candidate, whom they already chose.
In the running: Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Republican Gabriela Saucedo Mercer and Libertarian Blanca Guerra.
On most issues during the 90-minute debate, differences between the candidates were fairly clear.
One question posed to the candidates: How would you strengthen Southern Arizona’s economy?
"I've introduced legislation in this session to promote trade for the state of Arizona and for Southern Arizona," Grijalva answered. "It involves our port of entries. It involves additional customs personnel, and it includes a secure port of entry but also the flow of commerce and goods and services."
"We need to pay attention to Nogales or Nogales is going to be left with even higher unemployment," Guerra answered. "Nogales is Arizona's biggest port of entry. Arizona's largest potential trade area. Why are we not paying attention to it?"
"The free market is not flowing because of government regulations," Mercer said. "Government is not friendly to job creators."
Many comments often brought on loud applause from supporters in the auditorium.
Mixed throughout the questions and answers: jabs and accusations Grijalva and Mercer hurled at each other.
One exchange between the two came during a discussion of military draw downs. Mercer referenced a group that protests war called Code Pink.
"I find it very (disingenuous) or insincere when Mr. Grijalva talks about our brave men and women in uniform," Mercer said, "when he himself, along with three other members of Congress, gave Code Pink a congressional letter to allow them to travel behind enemy lines to bring them aid and comfort to the enemy. Excuse me. In my book, that is treason."
"The ability of people to point out patriotism, call people treasonous or whatever in an atmosphere (in) which there has to be dialogue, there has to be discussion -- I find kind of frightening," Grijalva replied. "We're at a point in America where it is demanded of us that we support our troops, but it's also demanded of us that we be very, very careful in how we use a weapon such as treason and accuse somebody else without any merit."
Guerra pointed out on numerous occasions that her candidacy was an alternative to partisan bickering and gridlock.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce sponsored the debate, which will be re-aired on Arizona Public Media public television Wednesday night.