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Matheson, Love engage in lively exchange at first joint appearance

Published: Tuesday, May 22 2012 6:01 p.m. MDT

U.S. Representative Jim Matheson (D) reads a letter written by President George W. Bush regarding the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at the Utah Healing Field 9/11 Flag Memorial and Hope Rising Unveiling Ceremony at Sandy City Hall on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.

Mike Terry, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY —  Republican congressional candidate Mia Love drew a line between herself and Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in their first joint appearance Tuesday, while the six-term congressman said he's heard it all before.

Speaking at the Utah Taxpayers Association's annual conference, the Saratoga Springs mayor decided "to have some fun here" and talk about the campaign.

"I've already been described as being no different than the other six candidates that my opponent has been up against. We'll have to see about that," she said.

"This campaign is going to be about contrast. It's not going to be about personality. It's going to be about views, different views we have for where our country should be going and the visions of America's future."

In his speech following Love's, Matheson talked about reforming the federal tax code. He never mentioned his opponent but went to his bread-and-butter: bipartisanship and consensus building to get things done in Washington.

"You know me," he said. "You know how I've done this job."

Matheson responded to Love's lively rhetoric afterward.

"I run as Jim Matheson, and everybody in Utah knows that. I vote for what's right for my constituents. Party label really is not what drives any decision I make.

"This is the same old thing that's been run against me six times before when somebody says it's all about party. But Utahns respect their vote a little more than that."

Matheson and Love are vying for Utah's new 4th Congressional District seat. Matheson jumped into the 4th District after state lawmakers carved up his current 2nd District. Love bested two seasoned state lawmakers to win the GOP nomination at the state convention last month.

Love also took a shot at Matheson's Blue Dog Democrat status. He is among 26 members of Congress who consider themselves conservative Democrats.

Blue Dogs, she said, often fail to include Democrat to the label.

"If you put enough Blue Dogs in Congress, what will you have?" Love asked. "You will have a Democratic majority."

Matheson said he's as motivated as ever to serve because leadership in both parties has failed to address the day's vital issues.

"I was taught by my dad (the late Gov. Scott Matheson) to work with anyone who wants to approach public policy with an attitude of getting something done and making progress," he said. Congress, he said, needs "men and women of good will."

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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