The Republican incumbent and the challenger for the 10th U.S. Congressional District debated Saturday at the Columbia County Library in Evans.
Sponsored by the Columbia County Republican Party, the debate featured U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, and state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, who fielded questions from a group of panelists.
To lower gas prices, Fleming said, he sides with presidential candidate John McCain in temporarily suspending the federal gas tax, drilling for oil inside the U.S. and off the coasts of Florida and California, and advocating nuclear power.
Broun agreed with Fleming's points, especially domestic drilling.
"America is drilling for ice on Mars," he said. "We can drill for oil in America."
Both said they are proponents of the "fair tax" amendment that would eliminate federal income taxes and abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
"I believe adopting the fair tax would be one of the biggest economic boons to this nation," Fleming said.
Broun agreed but said government needs to cap a national sales tax at 10 percent of the total purchase amount.
The candidates for the July 15 primary also agreed that the U.S. should be prepared to do what is needed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
"Iran having nuclear weapons is totally unacceptable," Broun said.
Fleming added that the U.S. needs to stand by such democratic allies as Israel in that region. He also said he supports keeping American troops in the region until Iraq is capable of self-governance.
Broun said illegal immigrants are destroying the nation's health care and education systems. He proposes tighter security on the country's borders, ending birthright citizenship and adopting English as the official language in the U.S.
Fleming agreed with sealing the borders and adopting English as the official language, and also with keeping illegal immigrants out of federal housing.
A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Broun said he would like to see Augusta become a "destination city" for medical care and research for civilians and military.
Fleming said he formed a committee to examines the state's medical school facilities during the most recent session of the state Legislature. He believes in expanding MCG and establishing satellite campuses of the school in other Georgia cities.
Though the men agreed on the major issues through much of the debate, perhaps the most contentious part of the evening concerned their differing stances on the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation Online Act. Fleming supports it, and Broun voted against it.
Fleming said he would support any legislation that "cracks down" on child pornographers.
Though he said he believes in being tough on sex offenders, Broun called the act a bad law that allows too much government intrusion into the private communications of citizens and unfairly punishes Internet service providers.
The candidates will have a third and final debate July 7 on cable television show Comcast Connect Live.
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