- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 17, 2004

U.S. Rep. James P. Moran and his Republican challenger, Lisa Marie Cheney, debated yesterday about the national deficit, stem-cell research and affordable prescription drugs.

Mrs. Cheney, 39, answered most questions by criticizing Mr. Moran — a Democrat who has represented Virginia’s 8th Congressional District for seven terms. She criticized the congressman’s past behavior and said he has embarrassed his constituents.

“Our voice in Congress has been tainted,” said Mrs. Cheney, a lifelong Alexandria resident during the debate at the Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria. “We deserve better. I will be a positive voice for us and not embarrass us.”

Mr. Moran, 59, has been criticized for voting in favor of legislation that helped MBNA Corp., a credit-card company that gave him an unusually low interest rate for a nearly $450,000 loan in 1998. He also faced scrutiny for comments he made about the Jewish community and the war in Iraq last year.

When asked yesterday how he can be an effective legislator when he is forced to repeatedly deflect criticism, Mr. Moran responded: “I’ve tried to stay on the issues that I feel matter.”

Independent candidate Jim Hurysz was not invited to participate in yesterday’s debate, but he still showed up to hand out fliers.

The 8th District, which is strongly Democratic, includes Arlington County, the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. Election Day is Nov. 2.

During the debate, Mr. Moran criticized the Bush administration and said the Bush tax cuts have been the major contributor to the deficit.

Mrs. Cheney, who is not related to Vice President Dick Cheney, said Congress could save $20 billion by eliminating 2,000 pork-barrel projects.

Mrs. Cheney said she only supports adult stem-cell research.

“Facts have shown that adult stem cells are proven to be the most beneficial,” she said.

Mr. Moran said he opposes the position held by some churches who say stem-cell research is akin to abortion and noted that embryonic stem-cell research could cure diseases.

“It verges on criminal to shorten lives for politically inspired acquiescence to religious extremism,” he said.

Mrs. Cheney said working toward medical-malpractice reform will help lower the costs of prescription drugs. Mr. Moran called the Medicare bill passed in Congress last year an “abomination” that hurts senior citizens.

When asked about rising oil prices, Mr. Moran stressed the need for energy-efficient cars, a measure he supports but said the automakers were able to defeat in Congress. He also said he would support a gasoline tax to help pay for mass transit and other transportation needs.

Mrs. Cheney said Congress should push for alternative fuels.

Both candidates stuck mostly to party lines when describing their positions on issues including abortion, the war in Iraq and tax cuts.

When asked what differs between them and the presidential candidate they support, Mrs. Cheney criticized President Bush for supporting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex “marriage.”

“I don’t support discrimination,” she said. “That was a mistake the president made.”

Mr. Moran said he voted against the war in Iraq, unlike presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry who voted in favor of it.

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