Whenever two lawyers who would be congressmen get together in a room, there's bound to be disagreement.
Tom Draschil and Chris Cannon proved that Wednesday night in a 3rd Congressional District debate sponsored by the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce. The two Republicans found plenty to argue about in the first of four scheduled debates before the June 25 primary election. Words flew Wednesday as the format lent itself to interruptions, interjection and plenty of banter.
"You're a lawyer," Draschil said to Cannon during a particularly heated disagreement over a point of free trade law.
"You're a lawyer too, Tom," Cannon shot back.
The exchange prompted a woman in the audience to shout, "That's the problem." And so it went.
Regardless of who wins the primary, the 3rd District will be sending another lawyer to Congress. Draschil, Cannon and incumbent Democratic Rep. Bill Orton all graduated from the BYU law school.
Though the candidates are seemingly conjoined on many issues, the crossfire Wednesday revealed some fundamental dif-fer- ences between Cannon and Draschil. Each was surprised at some of the other's philosophies that emerged as issues were delved into for the first time in the campaign.
Most obvious were their beliefs about the right to bear arms, wilderness and free trade.
Draschil said the Second Amendment allows people to arm themselves as a protection against government tyranny. He's not opposed to citizens owning military-style weapons, save pocket nuclear arms, because a "bolt-action .22 is not going to do much."
"It doesn't make sense today to use defense against the federal government as a rationale to have guns," Cannon countered. He said he can't justify owning assault rifles for personal protection, although he believes a gun in every house would deter crime.
Early into a long and winding discussion on southern Utah wilderness, Cannon thought that maybe he and Draschil had found some common ground. But it didn't happen.
Draschil said the issue is simple: Does the federal government have the right to own and control land in Utah? His answer is that there should be zero acres of federal wilderness in the state.
"We should be backing the federal government out of an area they never had business being in in the first place," he said. Draschil said the land does not belong to the federal government and for Utah to give it up would be a compromise in principles.
Cannon said wilderness is not an ownership issue. The fact is, he said, the federal government already owns much of Utah. The question is how much land should be designated as wilderness. Cannon said he supports the Republican congressional delegation plan for 1.9 million acres.
"It is not a compromise of principles. It's a compromise of what land should be put in and what land shouldn't," he said.
Trade issues, particularly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Free Trade Agreement, have been an area in which both candidates knew they disagreed.
To put it in caveman terms, Draschil say GATT and NAFTA bad; Cannon say GATT and NAFTA good.
Draschil said NAFTA hurts Utah's cattle industry because of an influx of Mexican and Canadian beef. He attributed falling beef prices to the imports.
Cannon said Mexico and Canada account for a minute percentage of incoming meat products. Meanwhile, U.S. beef exports are booming. Prices are plummeting because of "an overabundance of cattle in America," he said.