Porter, Titus tangle over economy in TV debate | NevadaAppeal.com
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Porter, Titus tangle over economy in TV debate

KATHLEEN HENNESSEY
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS – Republican Rep. Jon Porter and his Democratic opponent Dina Titus tangled over votes on the economy and energy policy Wednesday in their first televised debate.

The face-off between the candidates seeking Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District seat yielded little on the candidates’ future proposals and saw discussion of policy often give way to pointed back-and-forth on past positions and their voting records.

Both candidates argue their opponents have reversed past positions to appeal to voters in the moderate-leaning, suburban Las Vegas-area district. The race, among the most competitive in the country, is a dead heat in the polls.

Porter, who is seeking a fourth term, accused Titus of reversing her position against offshore drilling for oil. A longtime state senator, Titus voted against a resolution that would have urged the administration to remove a ban on drilling in some U.S. coastal waters. She now says she supports drilling, with certain limitations.

“She wiped out the language that had anything to do with exploring for oil off the coast of the U.S. That was just a year and half ago,” Porter said.

Titus responded that Porter had prioritized oil exploration and oil companies at the expense of renewable energy development.

“I think that’s a pot-and-kettle case congressman. It’s not just a flip-flop, it’s a real flop when you do not invest in renewable energy,” she said.

The candidates are vying for office in a district battered by the home foreclosure crisis and economic downturn. They both have tried to distinguish themselves in their responses to the crisis.

Porter, a low-key former insurance agent, defended his vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, calling it a “generational vote” with historic ramifications.

“I tried to look at the perspective of what it’s like to be a small-business owner,” he said, adding that he thought “government needs to take steps especially in a moment of crisis.”

Porter also laid blame for the crisis on the unpopular Bush administration.

“I think the administration dropped the ball. A $700 billion proposal? I can’t imagine the administration didn’t see this coming,” he said.

Titus later attempted to tie Porter to his party.

“You want to blame everybody else. Who’s in charge? You’ve been there. You have to take some responsibility,” she said.

Titus said she would not have voted for the first version of the bailout bill, which failed in the House. Though she was a sharp critic of a second version that was passed into law, she said she would have supported it because it offered assistance to average Americans.

Porter attacked her explanation as unsteady leadership.

“This is another example where my opponent and I differ. First she was against it, then she was for it. In tough times like these, we have to have solid leadership that has the initiative to make those tough decisions,” he said.

The candidates debated on a taped episode of “Face to Face with Jon Ralston,” a local public affairs show. The debate was scheduled to air Wednesday night after the presidential debate.

Also Wednesday both candidates filed quarterly fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission showing how much they raised between July 24 and Sept. 30. Porter raised $387,000 during the period and ended it with $836,000 cash on-hand. Titus raised $626,000 during the period and ended up with $246,000 cash on-hand.