Who’s the ultimate Conservative?
Broun, Fleming speak of faith, liberals, free market at county Republican forum
BY BEN MUNRO
The candidates for Georgia’s 10th U.S. congressional seat spent Friday night invoking faith, chiding liberal politics and even exchanging verbal jabs at one point as they presented their platforms in front of Madison County Republicans.
Incumbent Paul Broun is trying to fend off challenger Barry Fleming in the July 15 primary.
Broun, who is from Athens, painted himself as one of the last of the true conservatives standing in Washington, D.C. and a hardline constitutionalist. Meanwhile Fleming, a state senator from Augusta, said he’s a major advocate of the free market system and the choice for effective conservative leadership.
As Broun and Fleming each went to the podium at the hour-long forum at the Madison County High School theater, each candidate sought to prove he was the superior conservative choice for the party’s nomination.
Both agreed for the need to drill for oil and seek alternate energy sources to combat skyrocketing fuel costs. Each politician is an ardent supporter of the Fair Tax proposal, though Fleming said it took Broun eight months to co-sponsor it. The two also took similar stances on the need to secure national borders and make English the United State’s official language, though Broun says that Fleming has criticized him for introducing legislation regarding the latter.
But both were harmonious in their contempt for liberal input especially regarding the environment.
“The facts are that there are people in this country that want to rule everything that we do,” Broun said while discussing global warming. “They’re called liberals.”
Fleming echoed those statements.
“What that tells you is that we do have a lot of liberal extremists that are really Chicken Little that are saying, ‘the sky is falling’ on this issue,” Fleming said.
Broun and Fleming both appealed to religion on several occasions, saying their faith would drive their decision-making in Washington, D.C.
“I’m a Bible-believing Christian,” were the first words out of Broun’s mouth.
Fleming said he reads from the book of Kings every time he runs for office.
But the tone grew from religious to contentious and sometimes a combination of the two during the forum.
Fleming took an opportunity, while talking about securing national borders, to attack Broun’s “no” vote on a federal public housing bill. Fleming said an amendment to that bill barred illegal immigrants from attaining federal housing.
“I am absolutely opposed to people who are here illegally getting benefits on taxpayer dollars,” he said.
Broun later refuted that charge. Invoking the Ten Commandments, Broun said Fleming is distorting his voting record.
“In God’s inerrant word, in the Ten Commandments, Barry, one of the Ten Commandments is ‘I shall not bear false witness’ and you’ve already broken that tonight,” said Broun to Fleming.
Broun then revisited his vote on the housing issue, saying opposed the bill because of the expense to taxpayers.
Broun said the amendment to the Housing and Urban Development bill was a “blank check on your tax dollars,” mandating that all government housing to have a “radical” environmental construction agenda.
Broun added that the “no funds from illegal aliens” part of amendment was a liberal ploy, he said, to lure votes for the bill and said that Fleming didn’t understand liberal deception.
“The way these liberal folks do it, they stick these words in there.”
Broun said all an illegal alien would have to do to get housing would be say, “I’m not an illegal.”
The two exchanged a verbal spat during Fleming’s final comments when he claimed that Broun had waffled on the issue of same-sex marriage, something Broun says he denounces.
Reminding Broun of his earlier citation of the Ninth Commandment, Fleming referred to a news article in the July 18, 2007 Athens Banner-Herald as his source to back up his claim. “I don’t want to be accused of bearing false witness again,” he said.
Saying that Broun was trying to lure Democrat votes, Fleming said Broun “came out saying that he would be opposed to an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to say that marriage was only between a man and a woman.”
“That’s a lie,” Broun interjected, while seated.
From the podium, Fleming continued.
“I’ve supported that since I’ve been in the state house and will support it when I’m in the Congress,” he said. “Now he has flip-flopped on that in an election year and now he says he’s for it and I’m glad that he came around.”
Broun, again, was irked.
“I introduced the marriage protection amendment, folks, to the constitution,” Broun intervened, before he was shushed by moderator Ralph Hudgens.
“I’m not going to interrupt him, so I’ll ask that he not do the same for me,” Fleming said.
The two shook hands at the end of the forum and proceeded to separately work the room at the MCHS theatre, drumming up support for the July 15 primary.