Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Read this, and if you want to help Jay Fawcett out, here's his website: http://www.fawcett4congress.com /
Candidates talk religion at Focus of the Family forum
By ED SEALOVER THE GAZETTE
Politics and religion mixed at a Focus on the Family congressional forum Monday, as answers that may have raised eyebrows elsewhere played perfectly before this crowd. Five Republicans and one Democrat seeking the open 5th Congressional District seat fielded questions on abortion, campaign integrity and the war in Iraq.
The answers were much the same as they have been throughout the campaign, but in front of a crowd of 220 made up mostly of employees of the Christian ministry, the candidates often referred to God and their faith. Bentley Rayburn spoke of opening Iraq to the word of Jesus. He and Duncan Bremer said they had been called by God to campaign for Congress.
An exchange on abortion between Democrat Jay Fawcett and Jeff Crank was illustrative of the event. Fawcett explained his pro-choice stance by saying: "I have no desire to dictate your faith to you, and I hope you have no desire to dictate mine for me." Crank, who supports outlawing abortion, shot back that votes on abortion always are based on the faith of the member deciding them. "We need to stop this phony baloney about not bringing faith into the public square," the former Chamber of Commerce vice president said. "We absolutely need to bring faith into the public square."
The debate at the headquarters of the influential, conservative Christian ministry was the next-to-last one scheduled before the Aug. 8 Republican primary. Five of the six Republicans in the primary to replace retiring GOP Rep. Joel Hefley have cast themselves as the true conservative in the race. Former El Paso County Sheriff John Anderson, considered the most liberal Republican candidate on social issues, did not attend.
Rayburn, a retired Air Force major general, framed several answers in terms of what "we as Christians" would do. As he has throughout the campaign, he described the war in Iraq as a battle against radical Islam and said establishing a democracy in Iraq would send a message. "That will open up hope within these countries for the gospel of Jesus Christ to change hearts," he said. Rayburn and Bremer, a former El Paso county commissioner, said they believe God had called them to run for office. "I want to be God's man in Washington," Bremer told the crowd. "I want to represent the heart of this district . . . whether people who are saved and working side by side with you or whether people who are unsaved." Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera noted his lifelong Catholicism as the basis for his anti-abortion stances; Doug Lamborn said he became a Christian when he was 19.
The Republican candidates vowed to support a constitutional amendment banning abortion.
All six, including Fawcett, said they hope to serve on the House Armed Services Committee and, responding to a question, all said they'd oppose a nationwide smoking ban similar to Colorado's.
The candidates also were questioned about the source of campaign
contributions and if any had taken money from the gambling or pornography industries. Lamborn, a state senator, was the only candidate who said he received a contribution from a casino owner. Lamborn said Bronco Billy's Casino general manager Marc Murphy gave him $500 because he agrees with his opposition to expanding gambling in Colorado.
Candidates also were asked what bill they would introduce first if
elected. Rivera said it would be a law allowing for greater supplies of alternative energy, and Crank said he would push for elimination of the federal Department of Education. Lamborn said he would like to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent, and Rayburn said he is interested in passing a balanced budget amendment. Bremer did not have a specific answer. Fawcett said he would seek funding for special-needs children that was not included in an earlier bill approved by Congress to help them.