2nd Congressional District candidates talk Trump, security

September 18, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Democratic candidate for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District said she considers “the person in our White House” to be the biggest threat to national security.

Although Shireen Ghorbani did not reference President Donald Trump by name at a Monday debate at Dixie State University in St. George with Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Stewart, she said she was worried about the increasingly strained relationships with ally countries and “our overall ability to lead this nation with a level-headed and stable president.”

The debate was briefly interrupted by a man who yelled “Vaccine cause autism. Autism is caused by vaccines,” into Stewart’s mic. The man was reportedly escorted out by police and arrested.

Stewart denied that Trump is a threat.

Stewart supports most of Trump’s policies. But he said he isn’t afraid to challenge the president on things such as family separation at the border and imposing tariffs on foreign imports.

Instead, he named China as the country’s biggest long-term threat.

The candidates both agreed that the ballooning national debt is a major concern. But they differed on how they would tackle it.

Ghorbani credited the nation’s escalating federal deficit, now at $21.5 trillion, in part to the Republican tax cuts.

“Corporate tax cuts would be a really nice place to start,” she said. “The excesses that we’re spending on military contractors and endless war should absolutely be on the table.”

Job growth will cover the deficit increase from the tax cuts, Stewart said. “Because of that tax reform we have the strongest economy we’ve had since I’ve been alive,” he said.

He also suggested changes to the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Ghorbani pushed back on this idea and said the programs are earned benefits that people paid into their entire working lives.

Health care is a sensitive subject for Ghorbani, a first-time candidate who was motivated to get into the race after watching her mother die from pancreatic cancer. She is advocating for more transparency in health care billing and access to affordable health care.

Stewart blamed the rising health care costs on the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have not been successful at repealing.

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