Democrat Congressman Leonard Boswell and Jeff Lamberti, the Republican running against Boswell this November, appeared together in a televised discussion Tuesday evening, but there was no debate about the scandal that has enveloped Washington.
The two men joined to condemn Florida Congressman Mark Foley who resigned last Friday after lurid electronic “instant messages” the congressman sent to a teenage boy were made public. Lamberti said there should be “zero tolerance” for that sort of conduct. “But you know this is part of what’s going on in Washington, part of the problem and why there does need to be a change,” Lamberti said. “There does need to be changes in the ethics rules in respect to lobbyists and travel…there’s a cozy relationship between members and lobbyists. That needs to change but you know members of congress should be held to the highest ethical standard. They shouldn’t be held to an average standard.”
Boswell, a Democrat, said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican, should step down if it’s determined Hastert knew about the inappropriate behavior and didn’t act. “We need to have an immediate, quick investigation — very quick, over the shortest time — and get right to the bottom and anybody that was involved and whoever it might be, if they were involved in it and had information and didn’t take action to protect our children…they ought to be removed from their responsibilities,” Boswell said.
The two men spent about a quarter of their hour on t.v. talking about the war in Iraq. Boswell called for U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to be replaced. “I would like to see him resign. I think there’s a number of people that could step right in there and do the job in a heart beat and it would be better for the country and for the world community,” Boswell said.
Lamberti said it’s up to the president to decide who serves in that role and Lamberti backs the president’s war plans. “I think the president’s been very clear. This is a difficult situation. He’s stated what he believes needs to happen…and that is we need to leave when Iraq is stable,” Lamberti said.
The two candidates’ also reviewed their campaign advertisements. In one ad, Lamberti accuses Boswell of being “a bit confused” about his own record on immigration-related issues, and Lamberti repeated the criticisms last night that Boswell, for example, had voted against building a fence along the U.S./Mexico border and then just this past month changed his mind and voted for it.
“It’s absolutely fair because those were all votes that were taken,” Lamberti said. Boswell had this to say after watching Lamberti’s ad. “I’m not confused, Boswell said. “I think there’s some misrepresentation here and I think that you know better.”
One of Boswell’s ads refers to Lamberti as a “millionaire politician” who opposes an increase in the minimum wage. Lamberti offered this critique: “Several weeks ago, in our first debate…we were asked the question, and we were sitting right next to each other, about whether or not we would support an increase in the federal minimum wage. At that time I said ‘yes’…and yet we see an ad like this.”
Boswell did not choose to respond to Lamberti’s statement on the minimum wage.
Tonight’s debate was sponsored by KCCI television and the Des Moines Register.