The first high-profile debate of the Idaho primary election season created a few sparks Friday as the Twin Falls Times-News sponsored a face-off between U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and GOP challenger Bryan Smith. Each spent the better part of an hour edging further to the right in an effort to convince voters that he was the more conservative of the two.
"Simpson would not agree [to the Republican Party platform of the state]," said Smith. "You know why? Because Congressman Simpson is just too liberal."
"You can go out and misrepresent and lie all you want to, but I'm going to set the record straight," said Simpson.
The Times-News reports that Simpson and Smith agreed on strengthening the nation's borders to address immigration reform. But while Simpson touted a functional guest worker program and said he opposed immediate deportation, Smith kept pushing for no amnesty.
Smith said he supported an Idaho takeover of all federal lands within its borders and would call for disbanding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Simpson said that even if Idaho were to take control of federal lands, it would still be subject to federal environmental reviews and for Smith to think otherwise would be a "fantasy."
Another debate is set for Sunday, May 11 in Boise, when Idaho Public Television, the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women voters play host to the candidates.