"We can't wait years to act when House pages are at risk," Goldmark said. "We need a Congress that is ready to act immediately."
Goldmark has been critical of McMorris' failure to denounce House leaders for their inaction in the Mark Foley page scandal. Goldmark has asked her to call for the resignation of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, but she has refused.
(In the past three weeks, McMorris has taken $10,000 from Hastert and his associates into her campaign coffers. More on the Big Black Purse)
McMorris says that a House investigation was initiated after Foley resigned and contends that it was an immediate response.
Goldmark pointed out quite clearly,
"But that response was not immediate. House leaders knew the information for years and didn't deal with the problem. Those who knew about the improper behavior did nothing. That lack of action erodes trust in Congress."
Goldmark pointed to other examples of congressional delays. In late September, a bill to help area growers who have been suffering from disastrous drought was delayed by partisan bickering in Congress. Even though McMorris was a co-sponsor of the bill, she did nothing to rally support for a vote before Congress recessed. Goldmark called on McMorris to sign the Discharge Petition that would have brought HR 5099 to the floor for action before the recess, but was it ignored by McMorris, once again following the lead of her Party.
"Growers could have used that funding now," Goldmark said. He added later that after an election, growers know it's almost impossible to get help. Goldmark has repeatedly accused McMorris of abandoning the needs of farmers and serving the D.C.-based lobbyist interests.
Goldmark was extremely critical of McMorris' lack of response to the needs of veterans, pointing out again congressional delays. "The time to act for veterans is not after services disappear. We need to anticipate needs to assure that our veterans have continuing access to the services they deserve," Goldmark said.
Goldmark's life experience and business experience were in sharp contrast to McMorris' lack of both . In one particularly strong moment, Goldmark said, to paraphrase, that as a wheat grower and businessman, when someone calls and needs something now, you don't say , I'll get to it in about a year. He was forceful in making the point that eastern Washington's needs demand attention now and that we must have a representative who will act now.
For her part, McMorris sounded nervous and not terribly well prepared for the questions that were sure to come up. She did have her energy talking points prepared, and she spoke about biofuels, and how very excited she was about their potential.
On the subject of the war, she seemed to be off her usual talking points. She said in three years that Iraq has "gone from a brutal dictatorship " to having its own government, and constitution and that reports of some of the progress were not getting the kind of attention they should.
On agriculture after listening to Goldmark responses, the contrast was again marked. She had nothing substantive to say and, realizing a bit too late that she had left out some talking points, rather desperately mentioned that she has been working with Sen. Patty Murray. This to establish her "bipartisan" credentials.
Finally, when the Mark Foley question was asked, she was clearly rattled and not prepared. At one point she began to respond and got lost in her words and never really found her way out.
Her repetition that the House leaders had acted quickly was entirely knocked out by Goldmark's direct statement that they had not dealt with it when they first knew about it.
Peter Goldmark's knowledge of the issues and, not surprisingly, his integrity came shining right through.