From my AJC colleague Dan Malloy, who was listening in this morning:
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s Republican primary challenger, Stephen K. Simpson, repeatedly sought to portray the incumbent as overly doctrinaire and ineffective in a radio debate this morning.
Broun kept his easygoing style in the face of detailed questions from Simpson and callers to Tim Bryant’s radio show on WGAU (1340AM) in Athens about his voting record, and did not attempt to strike back at the political newcomer and former Army lieutenant colonel beyond calling his attacks unfounded.
One caller quizzed Broun about his 2010 vote against making it a federal crime to make videos of graphic torture and killing of animals. Broun was one of only three members to do so because, he said, the “crush videos” are already illegal in all 50 states and he wants to scale back the Justice Department and federal power. Broun, a tea party adherent who invokes the Constitution whenever he can, noted that originally there were only three federal felonies – treason, piracy and counterfeiting.
Simpson retorted: “If I were one of three out of 535 who said it was OK to have cruelty to animals, wouldn’t that say I was out of touch?”
Both Baker and Broun objected to that characterization, and Broun said he was of course against animal cruelty, he just thought states were best to prosecute it.
“I’d like to see us shrink the size of the federal government,” Broun said.
Later on, Simpson pressed Broun on why he voted against a small business tax cut that passed the House this year but failed in the Senate when Broun had spoken favorably about the bill. Broun was stumped – he said there was probably a provision inserted into it that made the bill unsatisfactory but he could not remember the specifics of the bill.
“If you don’t remember this bill, there’s something wrong,” Simpson said.
An account of the April vote in The Hill newspaper said some Republicans had doubts about the short-term nature of the tax cut and the $46 billion addition to the deficit not offset with spending cuts elsewhere. Broun was one of 10 Republicans to vote against it.
The two men are on the ballot in the July 31 primary in a district significantly reshaped this year but still overwhelmingly Republican. Broun is from Athens and Simpson is from Milledgeville – though Broun has attacked him for moving into the district from Macon to challenge him.
Broun has big-name conservative groups such as the Club For Growth on his side and has one of the most right-wing voting records in the House. Simpson, a former Pentagon liaison to Congress, argues that more bridge-building with Democrats is necessary.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider