Earlier today First Congressional District contenders Democratic incumbent Rep. Walt Minnick and Republican challenger Raul Labrador took the stage at City Club. And if you weren't in the room, Citydesk highly recommends tuning in to the broadcast on Boise State Public Radio on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. Trust us, the spectacle is worth postponing your Saturday night outing for an hour.
In a scene reminiscent of the infamous boardroom on Donald Trump's reality TV show The Apprentice, both candidates took the scrappy route, barbing one another so often that as the session wore on, the audience's exasperation was collective, audible displeasure.
In his opening remarks, Minnick started simply: "Our country is in trouble." He went on to touch on unemployment, home foreclosures and the deficit before Labrador opened his remarks by introducing his wife to the room and promptly moving on to unemployment as well.
Audience questions guided the discussion, and the first question out of the gate tackled the issue that's been at the forefront most recently: the candidates' TV ads.
The questioner wrote that each candidate had been running "appallingly negative ads" and demanded an explanation from both candidates. Minnick said "not a single fact" was incorrect in any of his ads and followed up with his opinion that facts speak louder than words. Labrador countered that Minnick "should be ashamed of himself" and cited a story from KTVB that reported inaccuracies in a Minnick ad.
And thus began a tit-for-tat that at times had candidates interrupting one another, insulting one another (more than once Labrador claimed that Minnick had no idea what was even going on in the campaign), and generally attacking one another.
With all the bickering, you'd expect the candidates to clash vehemently on every issue. Not so. They both agree that earmarks should be ended, entitlements cut and the border sealed.
Minnick positioned himself as a centrist more than once, saying he's the most independent voter in the House and painting Labrador as a fringe candidate who would end the Fed, deny abortion in the case of rape or incest, support a sound money system and repeal the 17th Amendment—all are principles of the Idaho GOP's newly adopted platform. In his defense, Labrador said those beliefs were mainstream, rather than fringe.
Perhaps the best question to be put to each candidate came from a student who noted the candidates' insistence on focusing on personal attacks rather than the actual issues. (And yes, that got the biggest applause of the day.) The questioner said: "Tell me why I should vote for you."
To that, Minnick said because he can put people to work and he can work "from the middle." Labrador's answer pointed to his experience in the State Legislature and his reputation as a "do-er" rather than a "talker." Priority numero uno for Minnick: jobs. For Labrador: immigration reform.
And the one last thing the two candidates have in common: They each think they're the best person to represent Idaho's First Congressional District. But that, voters, is for you to decide.