Terrorism, Iraq and Abramoff dominate Doolittle debate | SierraSun.com

Terrorism, Iraq and Abramoff dominate Doolittle debate

ROCKLIN, Calif. (AP) ” Iraq, national security, and congressional corruption were among the dominant issues Wednesday in the only scheduled debate between Republican Congressman John Doolittle and his opponent Charlie Brown – the latest round of sparring in a race that has captured national attention.

Doolittle tried to paint Brown as a liberal who would “cut and run in the war on terror” and who is “wrong on every major issue” in the historically Republican 4th Congressional District. Brown, meanwhile, said he would offer voters a change from what he called the corruption and failed policies of the eight-term incumbent.

The two-hour debate was held in the studios of Starstream Communications in Rocklin. The candidates fielded questions from local media and voters who telephoned with questions.

Local matters were largely overshadowed by national and global issues, with the candidates establishing themselves as polar opposites in almost all cases.

Doolittle pounded Brown for his membership in the American Civil Liberties Union, his failure to come out strongly against gay marriage and his opposition to the invasion of Iraq – all of which he said were signs Brown was “totally out of touch” with area voters.

Brown labeled Doolittle a “career politician” and said it was time “to get people into Washington who are normal citizens, trying to do the right thing, putting service before self.”

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Both candidates acknowledged that the race was the most competitive in recent memory in the district, which stretches from the eastern Sacramento region to Lake Tahoe and north to the Oregon border.

Brown has proven himself a formidable challenger in his first bid for public office. But the 56-year-old retired Air Force lieutenant colonel faces a struggle in a district where Republicans hold a 48-to-30 percent registration edge over Democrats.

Doolittle, 55, is a seasoned politician who started his political career in the state Senate, where he served for 10 years.

And in the face of the possible loss of Republican dominance in Congress, conservative voters may see the District 4 election as part of a bigger picture, experts say.

“The race is closer than Doolittle has dealt with before, and Republican voters will be concerned about turning over Congress to the Democrats,” said Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at California State University, Sacramento.