Idaho's U.S. Senate candidates spar in Lewiston

Idaho's U.S. Senate candidates spar in Lewiston
LEWISTON (AP & KLEW Staff) - The nation's ailing economy, the federal deficit and unchecked pork barrel spending dominated the first debate between the three top candidates for Idaho's open U.S. Senate seat.

Republican Jim Risch, Democrat Larry LaRocco and Independent Rex Rammell also sparred on energy issues and global warming in Wednesday's 60-minute debate in Lewiston.

All three candidates vowed to curtail so-called earmarks, the home-district spending projects attached by lawmakers in Congressional legislation.

Risch and Rammell say they would have rejected the $700 billion bailout package adopted last week to rescue the nation's financial markets. But LaRocco said the measure will ultimately help small business and help the country.

Risch and LaRocco both agreed that measures needed to be taken to address climate change, but Rammell dismissed it out of hand as a serious problem.

All three are vying for the seat now held by Republican Larry Craig, who last year decided not to seek a fourth term after his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting operation.

The debate was attended by over 100 people at the Lewiston Community Center. Panelists for the debate came from the sponsors, KLEW-TV, the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. The debate was carried live on KLEW-TV.

Next Thursday another live televised debate will be presented on KLEW, featuring the two candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat, incumbent Rep. Bill Sali and Democratic challenger Walt Minnick.

(KLEW staff contributed to this story)