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Obama-bashing, government-shrinking the themes at 10th District GOP debate

From the start of Saturday night's 10th Congressional District Republican Committee debate in Winchester, it was evident political jabs would be directed at several elected politicians. Two of the targets had seats on stage, 10th District Republican candidates and state Dels. Bob Marshall and Barbara Comstock, while the third holds office about 65 miles east in Washington D.C. – President Barack Obama.

Comstock and Marshall are viewed by many party leaders as the two front-runners in the six-Republican field seeking the GOP nod to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf. The two state lawmakers have nearly 30 years of legislative experience between them – the vast majority of which come from Marshall's tenure – and Comstock is often tagged as the natural successor of the congressman she once worked for as legislative counsel.

That considered, the four lesser-known contenders were determined to implant their names, their views and talking points in the consciousnesses of the 200-person crowd at Winchester's Millbrook High School.

“We need citizen legislators. We need term limits. We don't need career politicians,” said candidate Marc Savitt, a Frederick County resident and president of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals. “This election needs to be about new ideas, not who can raise the most money.”

Howie Lind, a former U.S. Navy commander and chairman of the 10th Congressional District GOP Committee, said he's “the only candidate in this race who is a non-establishment conservative who can win in November.”

Lind quickly struck a harsh tone, assailing the president for what he calls Obama's “radical, leftist” agenda -- a sentiment he weaved into several responses and speeches throughout the debate.

“It's time to take a stand to face up to Barack Obama and his radical agenda,” he said. “He's destroying our country economically, militarily, culturally.”

Rounding out the field of candidates were Stephen Hollingshead, a former advisor in the Bush administration and former chief operating officer for Americans for Prosperity, and Rob Wasinger, a former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback.

Marshall, a hard-line conservative who represents portions of Prince William County and Manassas Park in the General Assembly, said 10th District conservatives need someone who “will not waver on the right to life, who will defend real marriage, who will work to end police state surveillance and our dependence on foreign oil and who has defended Virginians against Obama.”

Marshall took digs at Comstock for what he views as her weak stances on abortion, same-sex marriage and the current Medicaid expansion fight.

Moreover, Marshall knocked Comstock for supporting the nomination of a gay man for a state judgeship and said she favors the sale of birth control pill over-the-counter -- comments to which Comstock did not respond.

A third-term delegate, Comstock stayed largely above the fray during the discussion. She touted her pro-right to work legislation and bills she has supported that ensure competitive bidding for public infrastructure projects. These measures, she said, have saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I've been tested by fire. When I've had elections, I've been attacked by the Clintons, Planned Parenthood, the unions, NARAL and a motley crew of big taxers and spenders. I fought back for our conservative principles and I won,” Comstock said.

Like her opponents on stage, Comstock bashed President Obama, whom she said “simply doesn't believe in American exceptionalism” and has been meek on foreign policy.

Key Republican platforms such as repealing the Affordable Care Act, shrinking government and the federal debt and establishing a select committee to investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks were constant themes in the debate supported by every candidate. The U.S. Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development were a few major sects of government the candidates said should be eliminated or significantly restructured.

None of the candidates wanted cuts in federal spending to come at the expense of the military budget.

“Government has two jobs, fundamentally – build our roads, defend our country and then it needs to get out of your lives," Wasinger said. "We need to go through government and cut as much as we can.”

On immigration reform, the candidates agreed securing U.S. borders needs to be step one.

Comstock said reform needs to be addressed not strictly for security reasons, but to celebrate immigrants who went through the process legally and are now proud, hard-working Americans.

“We have to continue to be open and welcoming and have a system that works so that [legal immigrants] can be rewarded for coming here and working within the system,” she said.

Hollingshead pointed out that children of “illegal immigrants” are citizens of the U.S., according to the Constitution.

“I don't think anybody is saying we're going to deport parents of citizens of the U.S,” he said – the only statement of the evening that drew a few boos.

Virginia's 10th Congressional District, which spans from McLean through portions of Fairfax, Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick counties, has been represented by Wolf since 1981. The GOP nominee will be selected April 26 through a firehouse primary and then square-off against Democrat John Foust in the November election.

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Yes, we can expect a strong bipartisan government congressperson in Barbara Comstock.  A woman who is obsessed with Hilary Clinton conspiracies from the 90’s and who led the defense fund for Scooter Libby.

She chaired the fund to defend Scooter Libby, the man who outed a under cover CIA agent.  Any person in NoVa who works for the government should run away from Comstock.

She is a rabid partisan who thinks its her turn.

Yeh- great choices you have their Loudoun GOP.

You are not alone cowbell, and I think it was made clear last fall.  I don’t know if I encountered anyone who was excited for McAuliffe.  I ran across plenty who were disgusted by the thought of Cuccinelli achieving higher office. 

If they run Marshall or anything close to Marshall, they can kiss the district goodbye.  It will already be tough in an area where the population centers have gone for Obama, Kaine, and McAuliffe. 

Leave it to the Virginia Democrats though to run a real dud and give the GOP a shot.  Unfortunately the current slate of GOP contenders appear to be much more of the same garbage you heard from Cuccinelli, George Allen, Romney, etc.  Like I said before, Hollingsworth seems to be the only one who dared step outside the usual talking points.  I’ll be checking him out, but am prepared to be disappointed overall.

Comstock and Marshall are viewed by many party leaders as the two front-runners.

While that may be technically true, there is a pretty big drop off between number one (Comstock) and number two (Marshall.) I haven’t made up my mind yet, but in terms of fundraising, party endorsements, mailings and phone calls, Comstock got an early head start.

I’ve received a ton-and-a-half of contact from the Comstock camp. A few mailings and I think one phone call from Marshall supporters. And absolutely nothing from anybody else that I can recall.

While the loudest is not necessarily the best, it does give some indication of who is most capable of running a strong enough ground game to keep that seat in GOP hands.

If the republicans truly want to win, they need to stop talking social issues. Very simple, Less govt, less taxing and more cuts. Talk about fixing the income tax system. As an Independent, I will not vote for a republican who’s priorties are social issues.

Just because a candidate exceeded expectations, doesn’t mean they “won” the debate. Just because Mr. Hollingsworth can talk the talk doesn’t mean he is any more prepared than the rest of the candidates to actually perform the job. Several of the lesser known candidates had never been physically seen in the 10th, some had popped into a few events, others are known legislators and activists.

So Hollingsworth is the only one able to think independently and willing to say something that won’t be popular with the entire room?

At least one guy acknowledged that government’s role is to facilitate commerce, e.g., infrastructure development.  I’m sure he won’t want to pay for it, but nice to hear anyway.

Everyone else sounds like they just repeated the same nonsense you hear on conservative radio, except Marshall who took his usual hard line on social issues over anything else.  He probably will also try to sell you that domestic drilling will reduce demand for foreign oil.  Someone should ask if he plans to nationalize Exxon, because that is the only way that plan works.

Why is it that this on-line paper thinks that mentioning the truth about Obama and his policies is bashing instead of just telling it like it is.

Another article on the debate: http://thebullelephant.com/stephen-hollingsworth-wins-crowd-10th-district-debate/

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