Alright guys, I took notes throughout tonight's GOP primary debate for House in VA-5, hosted by the Lynchburg Tea Party. All 7 candidates attended, and there were various formats throughout the evening. I had a list of questions to ask, but there were no audience questions so I had to be content with the format as it stood.
The candidates, from left to right on the stage, were:
Round 1 - Generic Questioning
The moderator was a news anchor from the local ABC affiliate. Basically, 3 candidates got the opportunity to answer each question (moving from left to right on the stage). There were a total of 14 questions in this round, so that each candidate answered a total of 6 questions.
1) What should we do about illegal immigration?
Hurt: Illegal immigration is government fraud, they have pushed amnesty for years....I have worked in the VA Senate to fight immigration. We need to build a fence at the border....Immigration is a matter of national security.
Boyd: Enforce the immigration laws we have, identify illegals with eVerify and dry up the jobs they take here, track visiting workers, allow police to do the enforcement at the local level.
McPadden: Recent polling shows that 87% of Americans are against illegal immigration....special interests in Washington are making money and gaining votes from illegals. eVerify would be a good start to address the issue.
2) What will you do if your principles conflict with the will of the constituents?
Boyd: Cutting spending is going to be unpopular, but is a principle I believe in. I would represent VA-5 but we need to elect a candidate with core principles that we believe in. Always stick to principles when voting.
McPadden: Never compromise principles - I am very clear on what mine are. Privatizing social security is something I will not compromise on. Every 2 years, we have the opportunity to vote out those who violate principles.
McKelvey: Debt/spending is unsustainable, hard choices must be made, must stick to principles on fiscal issues. More tolerance on listening to constituents on social issues. "Fire me if I don't get the job done."
3) Is it unconstitutional for federal agencies to legislate and regulate without the authority of Congress?
McPadden: Dems/EPA are enforcing regulation over the authority of Congress, trampling the Constitution. Congress must take away funding from agencies that attempt to legislate, absolutely unconstitutional.
McKelvey: Power must be returned to Congress, lobbyist structure in DC must change, state sovereignity must be restored, we should repeal the 17th Amendment. Scott Brown has been a failure already.
Verga: Gov't on both sides have taken too much power, that power must be returned to the people. People lose when regulatory agencies bypass rules. We should be asking if the EPA should even be a federal agency.
4) What is the #1 threat to our national security?
McKelvey: Present administration. Gitmo must stay open, try terrorists at Gitmo. Iran is a terrorist nation. Must get energy independence, we are being controlled by outside sources.
Verga: We are our own biggest threat, political correctness is running amok, there is a global jihad against America in progress. We must fight the war to win, stand with our allies in Israel and keep them safe.
Morton: Funding for military is essential, we are fighting many battles and need to make sure our troops are prepared. Iran is a threat, building a nuclear warhead, we should work within the UN to sanction Iran. We must also secure and stabilize Iraq.
5) What do you love most about America?
Verga: I am the grandson of immigrants, but was able to attend college in just 2 generations despite coming from poverty. Country allows us to reach our full potential, and we were founded on that opportunity.
Morton: America is the "greatest nation with the greatest opportunities," we can pursue our dreams because of the great gov't crafted by our founders. Current admin. is taking our rights away.
Ferrin: Read the book "The 5000 Year Leap" - appreciate that the Constitution is a great document and huge advance in society. Want the Constitution back.
6) Federal education budget has doubled recently - what changes should be made?
Morton: I am a public educator, I gave up my NEA membership in the 70's. Fed. DOE was a terrible mistake. Take funding away from the DOE and return it to the districts. Education must be at the local level, parents know best.
Ferrin: I can't find a reason for the DOE, it puts stress on teachers. Companies in the free market would hold teacher seminars. Dropout rate has not changed since the inception of DOE. Need to treat education from a capitalistic perspective.
Hurt: We need to take a serious look at the DOE, education is important and does well at the state/local level. DOE represents mindset that gov't is the answer to every problem. Not necessary to send education $$ to DC just to have it redistributed and sent back.
7) What is your opinion on "Climategate"?
Ferrin: Cap and trade has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with promoting a socialist agenda. Climategate is the realization by Americans that there is no global warming. People who are involved with these government programs are getting rich.
Hurt: Al Gore and scientists are selling a lie. Environmental regulations have consequences - loss of jobs, higher energy prices, etc. Businesses must comply and some close since they can't afford it. If elected, I will repeal these regulations.
Boyd: I believe in saving energy, I do it on my own. Man-made global warming has never been proven. Cap and trade is a job killer, last thing we need right now. We need to stand up and say this is not good science.
8) As a freshman member of the house, if you were asked by your party to support a bill that you disagree with in exchange for support behind your bill, what would you do?
McPadden: I will not vote for any earmarks, system is immoral. A good bill will pass on its own merits without accepting backroom deals. Always stick to principles.
McKelvey: No pork barrel spending - we are going broke. Financial system is unsustainable, we need to cut government spending by at least 50%.
Verga: Accountability and transparency is vital. I have pledged not to accept pork barrel projects, they are power transfers to politicians.
9) What should the US do about Iran?
McKelvey: We need to throw the UN aside and do what is needed ourselves. We are all children of God, and we have an obligation to protect the world from terrorism.
Verga: Iran is a threat - we need to stand by Israel and stop Iran by force if necessary. Help people of Iran obtain freedom and democracy.
Morton: Iran is a key threat to Israel and the entire region. Work with Israel, get the missile defense system in place. Work within the UN, but withhold funding until they enforce sanctions on Iran.
10) What should the main goal of foreign policy be?
Verga: Help other nations and be a leader. Lead the world in freedom/democracy and build relationships on the world stage.
Morton: Stand firm and work to maintain peace; pressure nations that do not comply. Must have free trade, but must ensure that it is fair (citing trade imbalance with China).
Ferrin: Be a leader, be an achiever by deregulating here at home and exporting capitalism and freedom. Must also be defeaters and win the War on Terror. "The two things our military does best is kill people and destroy things."
11) If you could choose what federal government programs your tax dollars went to, what would you choose?
Morton: Military first, roads and transportation are vital for national security during an attack. Something vague about reforming health care and being careful with where we put our money.
Ferrin: Military obviously. Government doesn't have money on its own. Need to approach the problem as "what can we unfund?"
Hurt: #1 priority is national defense, the founders would agree. We have to cut the spending and demand balanced budgets.
12) What do you think of the Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate donations to campaigns?
Ferrin: I agree with the decision. The 1st Amendment covers free speech and donations as well.
Hurt: McCain-Feingold is terrible, restricts the 1st Amendment rights. People should be able to express themselves as they see fit.
Boyd: SC decision was correct. Campaign legislation should be thrown out since it removed the transparency from the process. VA state law has it correct, all donations are public record.
13) What do you propose should be done to reduce federal power and return it to the states?
Hurt: Tea Party movement represents renewed American spirit. Bills in the VA legislature get to the heart of this. States must assert their 10th Amendment rights.
Boyd: Do away with czars. Follow the Constitution.
McPadden: "Make the Constitution legal again." Supports the Enumerated Powers Act. Reduce the size of government and you will reduce the waste in government.
14) Is the Constitution under attack by the current administration?
Boyd: Yes. Lawmakers have an obligation to follow the Constitution.
McPadden: Czars are unconstitutional. Lawmakers/politicians don't understand that our rights are natural, not granted by gov't - Constitution simply protects those rights.
McKelvey: Where ARE they following the Constitution? Need our representatives to uphold their oath of office - some of the people in DC should be thrown in jail.
Mop-up Round (candidates could answer any question they didn't get a chance to answer, or address multiple questions)
Hurt: Pork barrel spending and debt are biggest issues today. Government spending % of GDP is unsustainable. Balanced budgets are essential.
Boyd: Current spending levels threaten national security. Abolish the DOE. "My vote is never for sale." We should verbally support Israel.
McPadden: America is not just a great country because we have opportunities and can go to college - it is a gift given by God to the world as a shining example of liberty.
McKelvey: Curb illegal immigration. I love the people of America and its Constitution. I support the FairTax. We must hold govt accountable.
Verga: Eliminate the DOE, it has essentially become a part of the Democratic party. Govt. is using social engineering, forcing banks to make bad loans is one example.
Morton: We need vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling, more choice in education. Always stand on principles when voting. Stand against international law.
Ferrin: Spending is a national threat. Energy policy is tied to national security. "If Israel attacked Iran, I'd slap them on the back and buy them a drink."
That was the first part of the debate....there was an intermission and a second half with different formats and closing statements. I'll post my notes from that later, but right now I'm tired.
In my opinion, McPadden did alright here, but he did a much better job in the second half.