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Pomeroy, Sand clash over bailout

The two candidates vying for North Dakota's lone congressional seat clashed Wednesday in a radio debate that frequently involved exchanges over the rivals' ties to outside groups.

Earl Pomeroy

The two candidates vying for North Dakota's lone congressional seat clashed Wednesday in a radio debate that frequently involved exchanges over the rivals' ties to outside groups.

Republican Duane Sand, who recently trailed by 30 percentage points in a recent Forum candidate poll, again accused Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., of being beholden to "corporate lobbyists" in voting for the $700 billion financial rescue bill.

Pomeroy shot back that he has broad campaign support and accused Sand of being under the sway of a "right-wing extremist group," Americans for Prosperity. The group is pushing an income tax cut measure on the Nov. 4 ballot in North Dakota, opposes farm subsidies and supported private Social Security accounts.

The debate, aired on KFGO- AM in Fargo and KFYR-AM in Bismarck, was the candidates' first on radio and the third to be broadcast.

The $700 billion financial "bailout bill" was the focus of the first question, posed by Ed Schultz, whose "News and Views" program on KFGO hosted the debate, and was a recurring theme.

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Sand sought to portray Pomeroy's vote as influenced by more than $2 million in campaign contributions from "corporate lobbyists on Wall Street" and part of a "culture of corruption in Washington."

Pomeroy counterpunched, suggesting Sand was desperate to overcome a 32-point gap in the polls. He pressed more than once for Sand to explain how his campaign, with debts of $300,000, according to Pomeroy, continues to spend.

Also, Pomeroy said the lesson of "Herbert Hoover economics" is that swift action is necessary to restore confidence in financial markets. Hoover was president when the stock market crashed in 1929.

Pomeroy noted that the controversial rescue package had bipartisan support, including both presidential candidates.

The candidates also tangled over the war in Iraq, with Sand accusing Pomeroy of voting last summer for a "retreat from the battlefield" in a vote for redeployment of troops, a charge that drew angry denials from the incumbent.

Pomeroy said the vote was to send a signal to Iraq that the United States' commitment of battlefield troops in the conflict was not open-ended. "We are not staying forever and we want to make clear they're not going to stay" forever, Pomeroy said.

The candidates also were asked what cuts in the national budget they were prepared to make, given the growing budget deficits and federal debt. Neither suggested any solutions.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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