Oregon Public Broadcasting

Major-party candidates for the 1st Congressional District met up Sunday night for their first debate of an abbreviated special election season.

110811_district1_candidates_small.jpgJohn Rosman / OPBRepublican Rob Cornilles will face Democrat Suzanne Bonamici in the race for David Wu's seat in the House of Representatives.

Their debate, televised on KATU, was sponsored by the Independent Party, which is offering its members a chance to pick one of the two candidates to support in the special general election. Voting ends January 31st.

Democrat Suzanne Bonamici was asked about the ways in which her policy views differ from those of her Republican opponent, Rob Cornilles.

Bonamici said she saw several differences. "My opponent has said he'd rather cut Social Security and Medicare rather than the defense budget. I believe those are the wrong priorities. I believe a woman has the right to make her own health care decisions without interference from politicians. That's another place where we differ. I also believe in a balanced approach to the debt and the deficit. We must not cut our way out, we must not tax our way out. We have to have a balanced approach."

Cornilles countered that he'd represent an independent voice for the district.

"If I'm going to be a 98% voter with my party, I'm going to be the David Wu version of the Republic party, and that's not going to be helpful to our district. As it relates to Social Security and Medicare, I've never said we should cut Social Security and Medicare. It's an entitlement our seniors deserve and have earned. They've paid into the system. It needs to be protected, it needs to be preserved. I'll fight hard for that - unlike Senator Bonamici, who supports the affordable care act, which effectively takes $500 billion out of Medicare. I think that's devastating to that program, which seniors want," Cornilles said.

The candidates spoke about issues like education policy, immigration, and trade.

Voting for the special general election ends January 31st.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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