PROVO Tempers sparked between the four Republican candidates for the 3rd Congressional District as they answered questions and faced criticism Saturday morning at the final Eggs and Issues breakfast held at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center's Northwest Plaza.
Joe Ferguson, Jason Chaffetz, David Leavitt and Congressman Chris Cannon met at 7:30 a.m. with members of the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce and Utah County residents in an informal meeting where each candidate spoke.
Ferguson criticized the U.S. government for trashing and nullifying the Constitution, saying, "The president is doing a terrible job, the Congress is doing a terrible job and the Supreme Court is doing a terrible job."
Mayor Lewis Billings pushed aside Ferguson's concerns about people endorsing a one-world order that would override the Constitution, asking Ferguson what he would do "to try and govern what people are doing with oil," saying that more people are concerned "with the people who control oil."
Ferguson said he would look to "increase (oil) production in our own country" and "gain access to the oil in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska."
The other candidates agreed. "When we pay for gas we are funding terrorists," Cannon said. "All the issues are solved by opening our resources."
Chaffetz called the energy deficit a "national security issue," Leavitt observed that "one quarter of every drop of oil is used by Americans" and that citizens need to learn to conserve.
Chaffetz spoke about the need to return to core principles of fiscal discipline, limited government and accountability.
"If we want different results we are going to have to elect different candidates," Chaffetz said.
Chaffetz blew past a question about the importance of seniority and criticized Cannon for missing more than 500 congressional votes, saying "seniority matters only if you vote right and only if you show up to vote."
Cannon bristled at the attack and said that if people "take a thoughtful look at (his) record" they will see "that he has moved issues forward that were important."
Cannon spoke of his success in protecting the Internet, taxing items sold online, bankruptcy reform and protecting businesses from being sued since his election to congress in 1997.
A UVSC professor approached Cannon about how his students, the new generation, often feel discouraged and overwhelmed at the thought of the national deficit. Cannon responded that the country's future leaders will also "inherit a lot of assets" and the cost of health care will diminish as health-care providers seek to make it more affordable.
Leavitt disagreed with Cannon's view, saying, "the number one problem facing the United States of America is our growing financial problem," a situation that will take "toughness" to overcome. Leavitt said his time as a Juab County attorney taught him how to make tough decisions.
Residents hit hard as they asked questions about immigration, but Leavitt drew applause when he pointed out that "the reason we don't have secure borders is that we don't want to have secure borders."
Many candidates agreed that illegal immigration must be addressed and guest worker programs established.
Saturday's Eggs and Issues breakfast is the last for this year. In 2009 the breakfasts, co-sponsored by IHC and the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce, will resume the Saturday following the first legislative session.