LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democrat Steven Horsford and Republican Danny Tarkanian put their differences on display during a weekend debate at a Las Vegas synagogue, touching on foreign wars, Medicare and abortion.
The contest in the 4th Congressional District race came Sunday, at a brunch hosted by the Temple Sinai Men's Club in Summerlin.
"This is a house of the Lord, let's keep it respectable," moderator Howard Beckerman said before the sparring began.
Both candidates told the audience of about 80 people that they supported Israel. But on other questions, they parted ways.
Tarkanian, son of the legendary UNLV basketball coach, had strong words against the war in Afghanistan, saying American troops' work there is done and wartime dollars need to be brought back the U.S.
"Our country is going broke because of the amount of money we are spending there," Tarkanian said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Horsford, the state Senate majority leader, said he supported withdrawing some troops, but qualified the answer.
"But let's be clear, we have to make sure that we protect the United States and our interests around the world and I will continue to do that because I believe in a strong military," the Democrat said.
On the issue of Iran, both candidates said strong economic sanctions are needed for the country. But neither said they were willing to send troops there.
Medicare was another hot topic for the House hopefuls, and both rushed to say they'd protect Medicare. But they disagreed on how vouchers should factor into health care policy.
"I don't believe that we should allow our parents and grandparents to be out on their own," Horsford said, according to the Las Vegas Sun. "A voucher says, 'Here's a set amount of money for you to go out and meet your health care needs. Above that, you're on your own.'"
Tarkanian argued that vice presidential contender Paul Ryan's plan allows consumers to choose between a voucher and Medicare.
"Paul Ryan's plan is not just a voucher plan; it's an option," Tarkanian said. "Isn't that a great way to get started?"
Some of the most passionate comments came when Beckerman asked about abortion and the emergency contraceptive morning-after pill.
"I believe through my faith that life starts at conception, and if life starts at conception you have to do what you can to preserve life," said Tarkanian, a Catholic. But he also said, "I certainly don't think we can do anything to prevent the morning-after pill from moving forward and wouldn't do anything to do so."
Horsford answered the question with one of his most forceful responses of the morning.
"I support women's rights with their doctor to choose what they do with their bodies," he said. "I as a husband and as a father of a daughter cannot tell them what is in their best interest. They have to decide that for themselves."
Horsford and Tarkanian are vying to represent the brand-new 4th District, which stretches across Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.
It has a Democratic voter registration advantage and is about 27 percent Hispanic and 16 percent black — demographics that could favor Horsford, Nevada's first black Senate majority leader.