The rare, bipartisan pairing drew a record crowd at the venerable public affairs forum—some 420 people. But, as with most of their votes, Minnick and Simpson agreed more than they disagreed.
Simpson said sometimes his wife does not like how he votes and Minnick said sometimes his wife likes Simpson better. Each talked over the other trying to be the first to deliver a verbatim rendition of the pharmaceutical industry talking points on health care reform and then both made emphatic statements that campaign contributions do not influence votes.
One interesting difference emerged when Minnick admitted to canceling several appointments at the University of Idaho recently because he was behind on his fund raising goals (U of I president Duane Nellis was sitting right up front at the Grove Hotel during the forum). Simpson then said he has only made one fund raising call in his entire federal career.
And then moderator Marty Peterson asked about earmarks and Minnick launched into an impassioned argument against them, asserting that earmarks shortchange the competitive process and deplete funds available for competitive grants.
Simpson said if Congress does not direct earmarks then the administration will; pork is partisan any way you cut it.
But they still agree on earmarks—agree to disagree, that is.