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Debate introduces voters to 1st District democrats

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GINA R. HEINE
February 24, 2008
— More than 50 people gathered Saturday afternoon to listen to four democratic candidates for the 1st Congressional District lay out their platforms in a debate.

First district voters will decide in a September primary which candidate will face off against Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, in the November general election.


Candidates gave a short opening speech before taking questions from the audience. The Walworth County Democrats sponsored the debate, and Steve Hay of Delavan moderated.


Here is what the candidates—Paulette Garin and Mike Hebert, both of Kenosha; Marge Krupp of Pleasant Prairie, and Jeff Thomas of Janesville—had to say on these topics:


Health care

-- Garin: Supports universal health care and favors House Resolution 676, which would cover the entire country with no preexisting conditions, she said.


She also supports the Healthy Wisconsin plan as a secondary option, she said. If states were to come up with their own plans, she said she hopes the federal government would help connect them.


-- Hebert: He said he believes in a national health care system similar to Healthy Wisconsin.


“Our national health care is ripe with fraud,” said Hebert, who finished second in the 2006 Democratic primary.


-- Krupp: “It should be a right, not a responsibility, and we need to bring everybody to the table,” she said.


Candidates were asked which of the leading democratic presidential candidates’ plans were better.


“I’m not picking either one, because there are many ways to get to the same place. But the bottom line is that it’s affordable for everybody with universal access,” she said.


-- Thomas: Insurance and pharmaceutical companies are the “bad guys,” said Thomas, who has run unsuccessfully eight other times.


He said health care for all is needed, and supports presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s plan.


Iraq and Afghanistan

-- Garin: “I think the solution to Iraq is going to be a diplomatic one,” she said.


The next president of the United States needs to seek help from the United Nations because our country can’t solve the problems itself, she said. Stability in the region will only come from an international diplomatic solution.


-- Hebert: The Iraq War was started under false pretenses, he said, because there is no connection between Iraq and 9/11.


“It’s about oil,” he said.


The United States needs to fight al-Qaida in Afghanistan, he said.


“That’s the right war, and that’s the war we should continue on fighting,” he said.


-- Krupp: Troops should have started coming home yesterday, she said. Krupp said she opposes an indefinite occupation in Iraq and was against the war from the start.


She also said the United States can’t solve the region’s problems itself, and a coalition of countries, including the United Nations, is needed to bring stability in the region.


-- Thomas: Troops should be gradually withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.


“We don’t want everybody killed either. It’s very dangerous to do that,” he said. “As soon as we start backing away, they start shooting at them, so we do it gradually and bring them back safely.”


Illegal immigration

-- Garin: The country needs a permanent solution to get undocumented workers to come out of the shadows into a path for citizenship, she said, but we also need to look at the centerpiece of the immigration problem.


“It is illegal employers,” she said. “This is the incentive that’s driving this whole situation.”


The country will never solve the problem without first enforcing current laws, she said.


-- Hebert: The country’s borders and ports need to be secured, Hebert said. We are dealing with people who are using fraudulent documents, he said.


“(There) needs to be job enforcement and border enforcements,” he said.


-- Krupp: “I’m not going to break up families,” she said.


She said she supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are here. The laws need to be enforced on employers, also, she said.


-- Thomas: He said he would never be able to look an immigrant in the eye and say “Now you have to go back.”


“It just isn’t going to be that way if I was running the show,” he said. “I think we have to realize we’re a country of immigrants.”


He offered no plans on what to do about undocumented workers.



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