Democrat Nicole LeFavour sought to paint Republican incumbent Mike Simpson as a man who doesn’t respect the needs of women voters Sunday night.
The four-term state senator and representative said that Idaho has one of the highest levels of pay inequity of any state and that Simpson isn’t doing anything to address it. In the Idaho Public Television debate, she pointed to Simpson’s vote against the Lily Ledbetter bill that removed the statute of limitations on bringing pay-discrimination lawsuits.
But it was LeFavour’s personal criticisms — she also complained that he called her by her first name instead of “Senator” — that made Simpson roll his eyes and chastise her for her comments on rape.
LeFavour said Simpson co-sponsored an anti-abortion bill that would have redefined and weakened the exception for rape by changing it to “forcible rape.”
“For many women it’s been a rough year to watch Congress,” she said, “and I’m sorry you have participated in that.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, because it’s absolutely not true,” Simpson said.
He said he did support stopping federal funding of abortion. But when he saw the bill’s language on forcible rape, it stopped him. “I thought rape by definition is forcible,” Simpson said.
Simpson said he went to leadership and had the language removed.
“To try to tie me to statements made by other Republicans is just beyond the pale, Senator,” Simpson replied.
LeFavour challenged Simpson’s reputation for seeking bipartisan and moderate solutions, such as his effort to reduce the federal budget deficit with both spending cuts and additional revenue. She pointed to his opposition to the stimulus package and health care reform, and his support for the Rep. Paul Ryan-authored budget solution, as examples of partisan voting.
Simpson said then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi put the Ledbetter bill up for a vote three days after it was introduced, with no hearings or chance for amendments.
“How can I represent my constituents when I can't even propose amendments?” Simpson asked.
The two disagreed most on how to control the deficit and improve the economy. Simpson said it’s critical that Congress get the $1.3 trillion deficit under control with cuts, entitlement reforms and new revenue generated by lowering tax rates and eliminating tax breaks. If we don’t, Simpson warned, “We will be Greece.”
LeFavour said Congress needs to create more jobs to spur the economy, instead of lowering taxes for people on Wall Street. She pointed to cuts at the Idaho National Laboratory as an example of how Idahoans already have been hurt.
“They simply are going to shift taxes to your family here in the state,” she told the debate audience.
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