Edwards, Taylor Debate the Issues

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Election day is a month away. With literally hundreds of seats in both the House and Senate up for grabs, plus the chance of a leadership change in the US House, there's a lot riding on this election. Saturday, the candidates for US District 17 met in a forum broadcast live on KBTX.

Following the opening statements, the candidates discussed their commitment to the Waco VA hospital, a subject Edwards has put at the top of his list, one Taylor is passionate about.

"I think it's a fight we'll win, and our veterans of Central Texas deserve to win that fight," Edwards said.

"My commitment to veterans is not a political commitment," Taylor said. "It's something that's personal, something that's in my heart."

That jab at Edwards' lack of military service led into the question of negative campaigning, of which there has been a dizzying amount of so far this year.

"I'm a US Marine," Taylor said. "I'm an Eagle Scout. All I know in this campaign is the truth."

But Edwards responded, "I respect [Taylor's] service to the Boy Scouts, but with all due respect, his campaign has not been a Boy Scout campaign."

Edwards would later again ask Taylor to agree to stop negative campaigning, a question he first asked in an interview on KBTX.

"As the people of Central Texas are starting to find out about his real record, now he doesn't want to talk about it," Taylor said.

"Let me assume from that answer that you're not willing to drop the negative ads and talk positively about the issues important to the people of our district," Edwards replied.

The focus of many of the ads has been illegal immigration. On the question of their stands on the issue of food stamps for illegals, both men said they strongly opposed them, but Taylor continued his push that Edwards had flip-flopped on the issue.

"My opponent has been on both sides of the issue," Taylor said. "He's voted for and against welfare for illegal aliens."

Edwards said he had voted against time-wasting amendments on the issue.

"What I have voted against is frivolous amendments that Mr. Taylor would have supported, he said, that basically restated, 10 years later, a long-standing law."

But the Republican continued to press Edwards. "Congressman, you need to not only vote for the law, you need to vote to enforce it, and that's what this question is about," Taylor said.

And the Democrat maintained his vote against an amendment on food stamps was proper. "The author of the amendment had to admit in response to a question that his amendment did not change the law," Edwards said.

On what was not a major talking point issue, Edwards seemed to catch Taylor off guard with a question on which US budget he would have voted for.

"I have not had the opportunity to examine either of those two documents, but let me say this: there is too much wasteful spending in Washington," Taylor said.

"I wasn't talking about two documents," Edwards replied. "I was talking about the fiscal year 2007 Republican budget."

With just a month to go before Election Day, this was the first and only scheduled televised encounter between the two.

The entire hour-long event will be available at KBTX.com shortly.