Congressional Candidates: Pryce and Kilroy Hammer It Out In Only Debate

The two candidates for the 15th Congressional seat met Thursday night at the Fawcett Center on the Ohio State University campus for their only debate before the November vote. The Pryce and Kilroy race is considered key if the Democrats want to take back control of the House.

The first question into the debate was about taxes – a subject that would be broached several times. GOP Congresswoman Deborah Pryce was asked if she would support a war tax.

“I do not support a war tax,” Pryce said.

Pryce said a levy like a war tax is difficult to remove from the books. She said new taxes are not the answer.

“What we need to do is have a responsible way of getting to our balanced budget. And we have seen this deficit cut in half three years earlier than the president had planned to because we have had sound fiscal policy on the book. We have been growing our economy, and the answer is not to raise taxes,” Pryce said.

Democratic opponent Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy called the current administration fiscally irresponsible. Kilroy proposed pay-as-you-go budgets.

“And that reduction in the national debt that Deborah Pryce talked about? Well I see that more as they’re bad at their projections, just like they’re bad on planning for this war. And they’re bad about making decisions about our national debt,” Kilroy said.

Kilroy’s political ads tout the balanced Franklin County budget, which some say is due to increased taxes. Kilroy was asked about specific federal programs she would be willing to cut before raising more taxes.

“We could start maybe with the bridge to nowhere and other earmarks along those lines. The defense appropriation bill had $11 billion dollars worth of earmarks for weapons that benefited certain members of Congress’ districts, but which the Pentagon didn’t even want,” Kilroy said.

Pryce followed up by saying she has cut taxes for every American, and some earmarks have benefited Ohioans.

“When Mrs. Kilroy mentions that there were earmarks in a bill, I hope that she remembers that some of those earmarks came right here to Columbus, Ohio. The Rickenbacker hub and the Heartland Corridor, a $120 million came to us. All earmarks aren’t bad,” Pryce said.

The war in Iraq was also debated. The Army speculates U.S. troops will be overseas for about four more years. Pryce was asked how many years would she be willing to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. Pryce responded with a stay the course answer.

“I’m willing to have U.S. troops in Iraq until we defeat terrorism in Iraq,” Pryce said.

But then Pryce said keeping troops in Iraq for four more years is too long, and setting a time table for withdrawal puts troops at an increased risk to terrorist attacks.

“This will be accomplished before four years comes. Hopefully long before four years,” Pryce said.

Kilroy said she has opposed the war from the beginning, and said Pryce is disillusioned about the war.

“My opponent is in a state of denial about Iraq. She says she has no questions for our presidents. She thinks Rumsfeld is doing a good job. We need to change the course, not stay the course,” Kilroy said.

Another topic was Pryce’s reputation as a moderate. While Pryce has voted against her party on some issues, she has backed the Bush Administration on issues such as the Iraq War and partial privatization of social security. Kilroy said this shows Pryce is not a moderate.

“Don’t take my word for it on Deborah Pryce’s right wing agenda. Go online and look up some of the ratings, like the zero from the Children’s Defense Fund or the PTA. Or the 25 percent she gets from the League of Conservation Voters, that’s the most recent one. In other years her ranking’s been lower, so low she’s been named one of the dirty dozen,” Kilroy said.

“Well of course I’m not going to have the very best ratings from the very most liberal groups my opponent just named. But if you look at a very neutral barometer, the National Journal, I am squarely in the middle right in the middle. I think I’m the middle member. And so I voted with President Clinton when I thought he was right, and I vote with President Bush when I believe he is right,” Pryce said.

Both parties are spending lots of money in what is considered one of the most heated Congressional races across the country.