State Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, and Vaughn Ward, a Marine reservist, only have five days left to convince voters he is the Republican who should face Democratic incumbent Walt Minnick in Idaho's 1st Congressional District contest in November. In the last 20 days, the two men have debated each other five times, with each instance displaying the pass each man holds for his positions. Labrador and Ward will square off for the final time prior the May 25 primary election Thursday afternoon on a live AM radio program.
Austin Hill, host of The Austin Hill Show which can be heard on weekdays on AM 580 KIDO, will have Labrador and Ward on his show between 5 and 6 p.m. Mountain Time as part of his "Take Back America" rally, which will be broadcast live from Legend's Sports Pub and Grill in Boise. The debate can be watched live at Legend's or listeners can tune into 580 on the AM band in the southwestern portion of the state or via the Internet on station's website. Hill's show will also feature the writer of the local political opinion website IdahoConservativeBlogger.com and a political correspondent from Arizona.
Listeners can expect sparring between Ward and Labrador as each man tries to score political points as the primary election winds down. A portion of the debate could center on Ward's comments about Puerto Rice made during a debate with Labrador Tuesday in Post Falls. Puerto Rico is Labrador's birthplace and has, like the issue of the repeal of the 17th Amendment, oddly come to the forefront during forums featuring both candidates. In Tuesday's debate, the question was posed by a member of the audience if Puerto Rico should become the 51st state of the United States. Both men agree, in principle, that Puerto Rico should not be granted statehood at the current time as the country struggles with many serious issues, including a struggling economy and high unemployment figures.
During the exchange on issue, Ward made a comment which has sparked comments from several local media outlets and political commentary websites. “The problem with extending statehood to some, to any other country, is it then the infrastructure requirements. … It is not time to grow the United States, not today, not tomorrow. I don’t see a time when we would. We’re 50 states, I want to stay at that. Let’s focus on America first," said Ward. Labrador responded, looking to correct and take a swipe at Ward. “I just need to correct, Puerto Rico is not a country, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. It’s about time that we took some civics lesson and we learn what Puerto Rico is.” Ward responded, saying “I really don’t care what it is, I mean it doesn’t matter.”
"Obviously you don't," said Labrador. The exchange between the two men can be seen in this YouTube clip:
(Disclaimer: video was posted to the YouTube account of Collin Mansfield, son of Dennis Mansfield, Labrador's press secretary.)
Ward will benefit from star power before the election, as Sarah Palin on Friday visits the Qwest Arena in Boise to stump for Ward. Mansfield told IdahoReporter.com that Labrador will also receive an endorsement from a political figure Friday in downtown Boise, but refused to say from whom. He did say that it is somebody with ties to local politics.