Wednesday, May 17, 2006

GOP SENATE CANDIDATE DEBATE

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 17, 2006


ALBUQUERQUE — Former Santa Fe City Councilor David Pfeffer made headlines in 2004 by being a Democrat who publicly supported President Bush. But at a forum Tuesday for Republican U.S. Senate hopefuls, he was the only candidate to openly criticize Bush’s plan to secure the Mexican border.

Pfeffer joined state Sen. Joe Carraro of Albuquerque and Farmington physician Allen McCulloch — the other two GOP contenders for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Jeff Bingaman — at the forum at the Fraternal Order of Police building in Albuquerque.

Pfeffer said Bush’s plan to send National Guard troops to help the Border Patrol will not be effective.

“Having 6,000 troops (along the border) is going to do nothing but make us look bad when the coyotes figure out they can get past them right under their noses,” said Pfeffer, who recently completed a 183-mile walk along the New Mexico-Mexico border to call attention to border security.

Coyotes are those who smuggle illegal immigrants across the border.

McCulloch said he supports Bush’s plan to send troops to aid the Border Patrol. But he said, “I don’t want to militarize the border. And I don’t want a war with Mexico.”

Carraro said, “If they know they can’t get past the border, they won’t try. If they know they won’t get hired here, they won’t try.”

But then he said he’d like to help Mexico improve its economy, which he said would decrease illegal immigration.


The candidates were asked what they would ask Bush about the war on terror.

Carraro said he wants to know why more countries aren’t helping in the Iraq war effort. He specifically mentioned Saudi Arabia.

McCulloch said he’d like to know about the number of terrorist attacks that have been prevented as a result of the war on terror and the number of terrorist plots foiled by phone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency. He said he supports the war in Iraq, but that senators should question the administration.

Pfeffer said the only thing he would ask Bush about Iraq is how it could become better at getting good news about the war out to the public.

On the subject of ethics, Carraro was the only candidate openly critical of the scandals in Washington, D.C.

He disagreed with his rivals who said you can’t legislate ethics. “You have to legislate ethics,” he said. “My gosh, what’s going on in Washington? You have to make sure they are obeying the law or you put ’em in jail.”

All candidates called for more reporting of campaign contributions. McCulloch said contributions should be posted on a government Web site immediately instead of filing reports every several months.

Although it’s Bingaman’s seat all three GOP candidates are after, there was relatively little specific criticism of New Mexico’s junior senator. The harshest words came from Pfeffer, who said Bingaman has been like “a bump on a log” for the past 20 years.

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