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Jim Matheson, Mia Love trade familiar barbs, sidestep questions in KSL debate

SHARE Jim Matheson, Mia Love trade familiar barbs, sidestep questions in KSL debate

SALT LAKE CITY — Some KSL radio listeners wanted the mics for Rep. Jim Matheson and Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love turned off when they didn't directly answer a question during a debate Tuesday.

Moderator Doug Wright didn't do that, but he could have a couple of times as the 4th Congressional District candidates sparred for the fourth and final time before the Nov. 6 election.

Matheson and Love traded some of the same barbs, though they came across much more subdued than in the previous three meetings.

They clashed on each other's political records, Matheson's 12 years in Congress and Love's nine years as a city councilwoman and mayor.

Love, a Republican, sought to tie the Democratic congressman to the Obama administration. Matheson countered that guilt by association isn't going to work. He said Love fails to do her homework on issues. She said he has a "condescending attitude" about her political experience.

Love sounded more measured in her responses, though she didn't directly address some specific questions and reverted to her list of talking points. The tactic prompted a bemused laugh from Matheson at one point during the hourlong debate.

"Once again, my opponent has just given you 90 seconds of generalities and didn't answer your question," he said.

That remark came after Wright asked the candidates what role lobbyists should play in making laws.

Love said she would listen to people of the district and make sure Utah has a voice in Washington. But then she went on to say Congress needs people who will balance the budget and that Matheson believes taxpayers are an unlimited resource.

"I think what we need is leadership," she said. "A lobbyist would not need to come to me."

Matheson said he's always concerned about the undue influence lobbyists have in Washington. He said steps have been taken toward greater accountability and transparency. He said he talks to people in Utah to gather information on issues rather than relying on Washington lobbyists.

Love talked around whether she would favor or oppose reinstating the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding sexual orientation.

"I'm going to trust the boots on the ground to tell us what the best practices are to make sure we keep Americans, our military safe," she said. "'Don't ask, don't tell' has worked in the past, and if that's what our military engineers say works, then I am absolutely for it."

Matheson said the policy should not be reinstated.

"I think it's the right thing to do. Anyone who wants to put their life on the line for this country, I think they should not suffer from any discrimination for doing so," he said.

Regarding gay marriage, Matheson and Love both define marriage as between one man and one woman.

Tuesday's debate comes a day after a new Deseret News/KSL poll shows Love has taken a six-point lead, 49 percent to 43 percent, over Matheson after trailing by 15 points in June.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy