Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 6, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Congressional District 5 Debate


  • Donít miss this debate between Republican incumbent J.D. Hayworth and Democratic Challenger Harry Mitchell.
Guests:
  • J.D. Hayworth - Republican, U.S. Congress, District 5
Category: Education

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on Horizon the illegal immigration issue continues to be a difficult process for the United States and congress. The situation in Iraq and the broader war on terror promises to preoccupy our representatives in Washington. Tonight a debate special between two candidates seeking to represent Arizona's Fifth Congressional District. That's next on horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to Horizon. Before we get to the debate tonight here is a quick look at some basic facts on each candidate.

Larry Lemmons:
J.D. Hayworth is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and also serves on the resources committee. He was a broadcaster before being elected to congress. He has a bachelor's from North Carolina State University; he's married and has three children. Harry Mitchell has served in the state legislature for the last 8-years where he served as the senate assistant minority leader. Before that he served as City Councilman and Mayor of Tempe. He was an adjunct professor at Arizona State University where he received both a bachelor's and master's degree. He's married and has two children and five grandchildren.

Michael Grant:
Joining me now to talk about several issues facing Arizona and the nation why they should be elected your Fifth District Congressman is the Republican Incumbent Representative J.D. Hayworth and his Democratic Challenger Harry Mitchell. Before we get to the debate each candidate will have one minute to make an opening statement. Order of presentation chosen for the show by the toss of a coin. Actually J.D. won but he elected to receive so Harry I think you're going to make the first opening statement. You're on.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you very much, Michael. Thanks for having us on the show. The reason I'm running is because I believe that this nation is headed in the wrong direction. I believe that this nation has the wrong priorities and we need to change that. The issues you mention at the beginning of the show, whether it's immigration, government spending, stem cell, these are all issues that I think are important not only to this nation but this district and the state. And I think that we're headed in the wrong direction. I feel very good that I've had all kinds of bipartisan support in this race just as I've been able to work with these people bipartisan people throughout my whole career. So I feel very good about. It I feel we need to change direction and priorities and that's why I'm running.

Michael Grant:
Okay, J.D.?

J.D. Hayworth:
Michael, thanks to you and channel 8, thanks to Harry but most of all thanks to the voters of Arizona's fifth district who will have a profound decision to make in the election on November 7. I thank you for serving you in the congress of the United States and by listening to you and getting things done we have a solid record of accomplishment for the state of Arizona. -- Welfare reform that requires work. We've also moved forward in so many other important areas. For example, prescription drugs for seniors so that no senior is forced to choose between having the prescription drugs they need and putting food on the table. And educational excellence and account ability through the no child left behind act. But under girding all of that is the first and most basic responsibility or government, protection of the citizens. Border security is national security and I look forward to the discussion tonight.

Michael Grant:
All right. Well, ironically enough you guessed my first topic area. It's immigration. Obviously Harry all the polls running show Arizonans in particular interested about the immigration issue strongly in favor of a lot of measures. I'm going to try to break this into component parts because it's a big subject. Let's start with border security itself. Federal government recently announced a plan to build 40-miles offense in the Cochise county area. Good idea?

Harry Mitchell:
I think so. I think the areas where there's urban areas, where there is a history of border crossing, I think that we need not only to build a border but I think we also need to have technology. There's a good use of technology that we can use to detect these people coming across. And of course more than anything else we need more security from the border patrol. We need more border patrol agents on the border. But I think a good start and a good indication of how we mean business is to have a fence and I believe we should have one.

Michael Grant:
Forty miles enough? Should it be as some have suggested let's put a fence across the entire Arizona-Mexico border?

J. D. Hayworth:
I have we have to look at much more fencing than 40 miles. It's an important first step. But we have to do a lot more in terms of securing our borders. I'm glad Harry agrees with me in so many areas. You couldn't tell by his votes in the senate where he voted against radar and bringing the technology to bear to act as a force multiplier. But when we get to that I think it's vitally important that we use our national guard not as support for the border patrol but even as we are training and bringing on line more border patrol age ends we have to be prepared to use our military not only the guard but standing military on a temporary basis to get control of our borders. Border security is national security. And the longer we delay in this post 9/11 world the more serious it will be.

Michael Grant:
Harry, there are a lot of people who believe that National Guard shouldn't be just occupying a support role, it should be occupying a more active actual border security role.

Harry Mitchell:
And I think that's the first step. I think that these people are trained immigration officers; I believe that they are providing an important part in backing up our border patrol agents. But I hear what J.D. is saying about the strong talk about border patrol but he's been there 12 years. And in the 12-years that J.D. has been there, the 12 years the problem has gotten worse. The border is less secure and there are more illegal immigrants. In 2,000 there were 8.5 illegal immigrants in this country. Today there are 12 million. It's great to talk about it and great to bring it up as a political issue. But the fact is in 12 years nothing has happened. These are federal problems and should be solved at the federal level. But they shirked the responsibility.

Michael Grant:
Let me just clarify real quickly. Should the National Guard actually be on the border not in a support or engineering role but actually there as an adjunct, a security force?

Harry Mitchell:
I believe that they're there in a proper role. This is what the president and governor sent them to do. They are backing up the border patrol that frees them up to do what they are trained to do. And the National Guard is not trained to act as border patrol agents.

Michael Grant:
What about the dozen years of inactivity allegation because we've still got inactivity J.D. as you know we've got the senate passing a bill, the house passing a bill. We've got no action and it looks like we ain't gonna get any action.

J.D. Hayworth:
Well, it's not only talk. Again I'm glad to see Harry agrees with me in so many different areas. But first to the National Guard, right now in the situation with the National Guard in the backup role you have a curious situation where the border patrol is providing security for the National Guard. Now the border patrol needs to patrol the border. The National Guard is trained in force protection and can take care of it self- but to the broader criticism that Harry offers there's not just been talk Harry. I've written a bill enforcement first and my plan includes number one really securing the border, bringing to bear all our assets in the post 9/11 world. Number 2, getting tough on those who employ illegals. Number three make English our official language and number 4 no amnesty and no social security benefits for illegals. We need a policy of enforcement first that's where there is true consensus.

Michael Grant:
Here's the criticism of that. Let me follow. Here's the criticism, though, of that. And incidentally, Jeff Flake a strong proponent of the senate's more comprehensive approach. If you don't solve all of these issues simultaneously, if you don't take a look at what do we do with the people who are here illegally, move to a guest worker program, focus on employer sanctions and certainly focus on border security, you only solve one of those problems you haven't solved any of them.

J.D Hayworth:
Aw, but here's the rub. And history can be our best teacher. In 1986, 20-years ago we passed the Simpson Act. Reagan signed it into law and in signing it into law he set tough new sanctions against employers which stemmed the flow of illegal immigrants. That may have been his intent. It was not the result. Subsequent administrations of both parties failed to enforce the law. But there is a fatal flaw to so-called comprehensive reform. You cannot subordinate in the post 9/11 world national security to any economic consideration and certainly not to an economic consideration of amnesty for noncitizenning, benefits for noncitizens.

Harry Mitchell:
In 12 years there has been a lot of talk about border security and securing the borders but nothing has happened. In fact congress is in gridlock. And my understanding about your bill, Congressman Hayworth, is that it never was heard. It never got to a committee hearing because from what I understand you are opposed to what the president suggests, you're opposed to what Senator McCain suggests, you're opposed to what Congressman Kolbe, Congressman Flake. In fact I don't know who you do agree with.

J.D. Hayworth:
Just the American people, Harry. Just the American people who clearly want enforcement first.

Harry Mitchell:
You've got to have enforcement but you also have to have a reasonable solution to the problem. The problem is, it's an economic problem. There's a demand over here and a supply over here. You can do all you want. But if you don't help supply that to take care of that supply and demand -- and I'm talking about enforcement, I'm talking about not amnesty. I'm opposed to amnesty. But you're talking about enforcement and at the same time you've got to provide some type of verifiable for workers and employers those that need employers --

Michael Grant:
In defense of the house -- and I think in defense of Congressman Hayworth's position, here's what proponents of the border security only position say and I want your response to it. They say, "Listen; if we don't secure the border before we do all this other stuff, we ain't got a stick to enforce the carrot. When we get a guest worker program, who's going to bother with the guest worker program if you don't have a secure border to keep people out."

Harry Mitchell:
Absolutely. You have to have them both. If you listen to the explanation from Senator McCain it takes 18 months to two years to get the verification you need for employers to get into place. 18 to 24 months. In the meantime you can start to increase the security at the border. But just to do one and forget about a guest worker program I think is just folly.

J.D. Hayworth:
Michael here's the bottom line. Since we're in the more soon season, Harry, you're familiar with this. When you have a hole in the roof the first thing you do is patch the home, then you worry about the interior water damage. Enforcement first is where consensus lies on this mart. John roads said to me, politics is the art of the possible. Every plan out there has enforcement first but when you take a look at what has been offered by others you need to understand maybe technically Harry is right. It's not amnesty it's better. Because what the proposed legislation coming out of the senate would do -- may not be the intent but the result -- it would excuse tax evasion, it would allow people to secure social security benefits and be involved in identity fraud. It forgives fundamental crimes and it is not a way to solve the problem. Let's secure the border first then talk about the desirability of guest worker plans.

Harry Mitchell:
My understanding you're opposed completely to guest worker program and you want to close off the border for legal immigration for ten years. That's in your book.

J.D. Hayworth:
Harry, name for me a nation where the guest worker plan has worked.

Harry Mitchell:
Well, that doesn't mean it can't work.

J.D. Hayworth:
Of course it does. Let history be our guide. Let history be our guide.

Harry Mitchell:
Cut off any kind of immigration?

J.D. Hayworth:
Not at all. Now you're mischaracterizing my position.

Harry Mitchell:
I had a roundtable of businessmen asking them about your position on immigration. And they said if that came into effect it would be devastating to business in this state. Absolutely devastating. There is a need for employers to get employees over here. There is a need for that. I understand what you want to do, J.D., is cut them off completely.

Michael Grant: Fellows --

J.D. Hayworth: What I want to do is this. I want to make sure the republic of Mexico returns to its position as an ally and good neighbor and sadly the government of Mexico has been a willing accomplice in the illegal invasion of this country. It's real simple. Enforce the borders first. No amnesty and then deal with the economic situation.

Michael Grant: Let me make a topic shift. We need -- need to move along. The Iraq War. Should a firm time table for withdrawal of the United States from Iraq be established?

Harry Mitchell:
No. I do believe it should happen. And I think this is one of the roles that congress should do is as an oversight position that congress has and accountability, congress should work with the president, the military and the elected officials in Iraq to come up with some benchmarks, not based on time but accomplishments. To say, what we have now is stay the course and that's not a plan. That's just nothing more than a slogan. We need to have some kind of plan to get out. And I think we can do that if you work with congress, if you work with the military, if you work with the president and you work with the elected people in Iraq.

Michael Grant:
American people got the patience for that?

Harry Mitchell:
Well, I don't know. Every day, every day I read where there are more and more people not just people but a republican congressman as well, republican senators say we've got to have a plan. There is no plan. And no one has ever talked to the president and challenged the president on what's your plan to get out. We're in the middle of football season. Can you imagine a football team not going into the fourth quarter with a game plan? Just say, well, we'll just kind of see what happens? That's pretty much what we have there. There is no plan and congress has done nothing to force the president toll come up with a plan and to work with congress.

Michael Grant:
Sticking with the football analogy, we need to start the two minute clock here and establish a firm deadline on getting out of Iraq or not?

J.D. Hayworth:
No, it would telegraph a message to our enemies of the magic date they could swoop in and take absolute control. The bottom line is I'm surprised and happy to see Harry agrees with me. We don't need a deadline. The danger of what Harry suggests is, though, when you establish benchmarks that can be interpreted as being a magic deadline. Dwight Eisenhower used to say, once in battle I found war plans useless but planning for war is indispensable. And now trying to win the peace is vitally important in Iraq and it's not simply stay the course it's adjust and evolve and find a way to win and get Iraqis back in charge of their entire country. Now, the fact is you have to ask the question -- you touched on it earlier, Michael -- what would be the impact of our enemies? And I'm one who beliefs we ought to take our enemies at their word. You may recall the correspondence intercepted frommize and the -- they said let's keep on with these acts of terror with murder and mayhem in the streets and the American people will grow tired and with media coverage it will be like the Vietnam syndrome. I've met with a war mom and she's also a war wife. She said, congressman we have to make sure we have the patience. This is the central front on the war on terror.

Harry Mitchell:
You just go and go and go. There's no plan. There's an open end for whatever -- there's nothing.

Michael Grant:
Is the war in Iraq the war on terror or not?

Harry Mitchell:
I think what the war in Iraq has done is create a bigger terrorist problem. That's exactly what it's done. We're coming on the anniversary of 9/11 where 3,000 people perished. We've had more than that of American lives lost in Iraq and we still have a number -- one Osama bin Laden is not caught. We have a 9/11 commission that came up with the 41 recommendations, 28 of them have received a failing grade. Our borders have less secure than they were in the past, our ports are less secure. I think that it is a matter of -- what we're going to have to do to fight terrorism is we're going to have to reestablish our leadership as a world power. Just as we foiled the plot of those ten airlines coming across, we did that with intelligence and with police support. We have got to reestablish. It we're going to have to do the same thing. Let me tell you. The people that sponsor this terrorism is Iran and Syria and we have got to find ways to put international pressure on these two terrorist nations.

Michael Grant:
Quick response and I want to shift.

J.D. Hayworth:
Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. If we pull out, think of the signal that sends. Osama bin laden writes of the strong horse and the weak horse. After so many provocations, after so many attacks with no American response he decided on 9/11 he could strike with incredible brutality and he did. He considers us the weak horse. If we pull out, not only with failing to deal with some Iranian involvement right now in Iraq and dealing with that right in the theater of operations and within the borders of Iraq, if we were to turn tail and leave to cut and run it would send the wrong message to our enemies, send the wrong message to our allies and the wrong message to those that have criticized us worldwide. We have to stand up and victory is the only option.

Michael Grant:
Very quickly.

Harry Mitchell:
I have never advocated cut and run. That is a mischaracterization. I do not believe in cut and run but I believe the problem in Iraq is mismanagement and incompetence. That's the problem. That's what we've got to have. That's why we need members of congress sitting down with the president. The people, back in the states, their home districts, coming back and working with the president. That hasn't happened.

Michael Grant:
President Bush vetoed the stem cell research legislation. I think you opposed that veto. Why?

Harry Mitchell:
Absolutely I opposed it. I think that was absolutely wrong. With embryonic stem cells when it offers so much promise as the leading scientists in the world, so much promise for the relief of diabetes, Alzheimer's -- spinal cord injury we should be encouraging this research. But we have pushed medical research outside of the United States; we've pushed it somewhere else. I might add that Congress of the United States, the majority of the congress, not including Congressman Hayworth, voted for stem cell research, embryonic stem cell research. The president vetoed it and Congressman Hayworth voted to uphold that. That was even against the majority of congress. People like Sawyer -- Senator Frist, Senator Orin Hatch, people like Nancy Reagan all supporters of embryonic stem cell research.

Michael Grant:
Why do you think the president's veto was the correct move?

J.D. Hayworth:
Because stem cell research must be carried out in the most ethical and responsible way possible. When you see a movie and they're rolling the credits they have a disclaimer to the effect of "no animals were harmed in the production of this film." are we as a society going to destroy unborn life for stem cells? Understand this: Harry talked about promise. Understand what's actually going on. According to the trials involving adult stem cells, 72 successes in the laboratory, over 2,000 cases actually being allowed for trial by the FDA. It is not a matter of eliminating embryonic stem cell research. That can go on in the private sector. But we really see the promise with adult stem cells as I mentioned the cases that are working with the more potent stem cells for which I voted and using umbilical cord blood and the stem cells there. But I oppose human cloning, I oppose this government funding of embryonic stem cells and of course my opponent voted not to --

Harry Mitchell:
I voted to create a stem cell -- Embryonic Stem Cell Research Committee in Arizona which was sponsored by Senator Karen Allen, a person that you have endorsed. But let me tell you. The research is not in adult stem cell research. There is some good that can be done. But the real promise is from embryonic. There are 400,000 embryos that are frozen that are the result of in-vitro -- in-vitro fertilization. Yes. These are frozen-- frozen. You know what's going to happen to them? You really believe they should not be destroyed I would hope you find a way that every one of those 400,000 would be brought to life. But the point is they're going to be destroyed. They should be used in research.

J.D. Hayworth:
Many of them are that's why they call them the snowflake babies. Talk to a father that has a snowflake baby. He says I don't want my baby back fighted.

Michael Grant:
Gentlemen, we're out of time. I just said this we are now out of time with this debate between the candidates running for Arizona's Fifth Congressional District. Each candidate will be given a minute of closing statement. By coin toss Harry is supposed to go first.

Harry Mitchell:
Thank you. If you like the direction the country is going, if you like the direction our priorities are, J.D. has already said that's what you're going to get. You're going to get more of the same. But if you believe that we can do better, if you believe that we deserve better, then I ask you if you believe that we ought to have a change in direction, a change in priorities I ask for your support.

Michael Grant:
All right. J.D. Hayworth your closing statement.

J.D. Hayworth:
Again thanks to you, Michael, thanks to channel 8. Harry thanks to you for taking time in what promises to be a spirited campaign but most of all again thanks to you the voters who will make a decision on November 7. You've heard us and it's been interesting to hear some of the back and forth. Harry makes the point for me. I'm not a rubber stamp. I'm a representative. I didn't go to be the rubber stamp for George W. Bush or any United States senator. Go to do what I believe is best for the American people. And I understand in the post 9/11 age that border security is national security. And the best way to deal with illegal immigration is a policy of enforcement first. I thank Harry for his tradition of public service. I would note that during his first term in the state senate he introduced no major legislation. Do we really want that kind of approach in Washington? The question is clear: do you want to have someone who will mark time or someone who will continue to make a difference, a difference for the better in Arizona? I make that difference for the better. I ask for your support on Election Day.

Michael Grant:
Congressman J.D. Hayworth thank you very much for joining us. State Senator Harry Mitchell my thanks to you as well. Gentlemen, best of luck to both of you on the Fifth District congressional trail. Thank you very much for joining us on this special edition of horizon. I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

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