The major party candidate for Iowa’s fourth congressional district discussed a variety of topics in a radio forum last night, including a controversial fundraising letter. In that letter, Congressman Tom Latham, a republican, accused democratic opponent Paul Johnson of lying about Latham. “I’ve known Paul Johnson for a long time and I have the greatest respect for him personally,” Latham said last night. “Paul knows very well…that he made some statements at an event in Ames and then he had to write a retraction…We all know the (candidates) sometimes say things that, you know, you don’t like on both sides.”Johnson says he, in turn, respects Latham and considers him a friend.”But on the other hand, a letter came out probably a month and a half ago trying to raise funds saying that I was telling lies…and then it came out again just the other day…exactly the same letter except now 30 days to the election,” Johnson said last night. “I think that that’s really unfortunate and I really hope that we can get beyond that and that the next two weeks are really talking about the issues.”The two men offered different ideas for fixing the nation’s health care system. Latham favors changes that would limit lawsuits against doctors and hospitals as well as a proposal President Bush has advanced which Latham says would help small businesses. Latham says most of the uninsured work for small businesses, and allowing small businesses to get in a new insurance “pool” would help the owners of those businesses get cheaper insurance for themselves and their workers. Johnson says it’s time for a bigger step — providing health care to all American through Medicare, the system that covers the nation’s elderly today. Johnson says the system is “hemmoraging” and it’s time to do more than just apply a “bandage.” Last night’s forum was broadcast on the Iowa Radio Network. Johnson is from Decorah and is a former state legislator, former director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and former director of the U-S-D-A’s Natural Resource Conservation office. Latham, who’s from Alexander where his family runs a seed company, is seeking a sixth term in Congress.
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