Immigration reform and gay marriage were just two of the issues on the table Thursday night during the Idaho Public Television debate between candidates running for Idaho's First District Congressional seat.
Republican incumbent Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo are vying for a chance to represent Idaho in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Immigration reform was one of the first issues the candidates sparred over. Ringo said the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan bill on immigration reform that then went to the House. She told Labrador - who at times has made immigration a priority - that she thought the bill gave him something to work with. But no compromise was ever reached on the matter.
Labrador responded, saying he tried to get both sides to agree to legislation.
“It was the leadership of your party that decided that they didn’t want any compromise," he said. "To them it was either the Senate bill or nothing. And that happened for six months. I was almost, every single day, in meetings for six months and we could not get the Democrats in the House, who wanted to reach a compromise, we could not get them to agree to anything, because their leadership was telling them not to agree to any of the compromises that we wanted in the House.”
Ringo continued to press her opponent.
“Well, there you go, playing the blame-game again, trying to blame the Democrats," she said.
“It’s just a fact," Labrador responded.
Ringo kept on.
“In fact, the votes were there to pass that bill and it could have gone to conference committee to get a compromise.”
Both candidates were also asked about gay marriage in Idaho. Labrador said the people of Idaho decided by a majority vote that traditional marriage should be protected, a reference to the state's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He said that could change if there was another vote today, but he said unelected judges should not be making decisions on the issue.
Ringo said the 2006 vote by Idahoans surprised her, given the Libertarian tendencies of many people in Idaho. She was surprised that Idahoans would think legislators should cross the line into somebody’s bedroom and tell them what to do. She said a vote of the people of Idaho cannot override the U.S. Constitution.
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