Dan Newhouse mocked the Seattle Seahawks' victory over Clint Didier's Washington Redskins at a Tuesday night debate, while Didier fought back against claims in a Newhouse TV commercial.
In between, they discussed issues.
The two men seeking to be the Mid-Columbia's next representative in Congress took questions for 90 minutes from Chiawana High School students on topics including Hanford, education and national security.
Newhouse, a Sunnyside farmer and former state agriculture director, and Didier, an Eltopia farmer and former NFL tight end, were able to respond to statements made by the other candidate, a departure from some previous forums.
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The audience of 300 people was allowed to weigh in with applause and, sometimes, groans.
Didier does not want to cut Hanford spending but thinks enough is being spent on cleanup, he said. He then said he is willing to spend whatever it takes to clean it up. He would like to see more accountability to make sure the money is being spent wisely with maximum productivity.
"I want it cleaned up, and I want it ASAP because I've got grandkids that I want to have a safe environment," he said.
The private sector needs to lead the cleanup without the federal government looking over its shoulder, Didier said. He pointed to a 2005 shutdown of construction on part of the vitrification plant to study whether it could withstand a strong earthquake.
"My answer would have been are those tanks in the ground strong enough to withstand a 10.0 earthquake?" he said of the two-year shutdown. "If they're not, we need to get back to building the glassification plant."
Newhouse pointed out that the cleanup is already being led by private businesses. The federal government has a commitment to clean up the waste left over from helping win the Cold War and World War II, he said.
"I've talked to contractors, I've talked to union officials, I've talked to management, strides are being made," Newhouse said. "Not enough yet."
The country needs to increase the size of the military to Reagan-era levels, Didier said. But he denounced military operations like the fight against ISIS, saying the country should use special forces to take out threats, as was done in killing Osama Bin Laden.
"We've got men and women willing to take these people out, and it would be a far cry cheaper than what we are doing today," he said.
The United States should be concerned about the United Nations because of the threat of a "one world" government taking away guns, Didier said.
Newhouse responded that it is important to work with other countries, but added that the UN has become a "liberal think tank."
The country has to take action against agencies that threaten it, he said.
"Would you rather take it to them, or wait until they bring it to us here?" Newhouse asked.
Didier pointed out a veteran in the audience he talked to at a party where he watched Monday night's football game, getting in an endorsement for the team's controversial nickname.
"I'm glad to say 'Redskins' tonight because there's a lot of native Americans that are very proud of that name," he said.
Newhouse was busy at a candidate forum in Moses Lake and missed the game, he said.
"It would have been good to see the Seahawks win," he said.
Both candidates denounced Common Core standards.
"To me, that is a top-down approach from the federal government, which frankly has a very dismal track record in education," Newhouse said.
Didier used his response to contradict a teacher who talked about democracy before the debate, getting some of the loudest applause of the evening when he said the country is a republic. Common Core would cost $45 per student per test, with six tests required, he said. He then called for abolishing the federal Department of Education.
"I believe Common Core is going to be a big failure for America," Didier said.
A combination of solutions -- including federal grants, funding from the private sector and more internet-based education -- will be needed to deal with reducing student loan debt, Newhouse said.
"We are falling behind other nations around the world," he said. "We need to concentrate on educating our populace."
Many students graduate from college unable to find work, Didier said.
"We really need to look at the institutions that are teaching our kids how not to be an American," he said.
Didier later said he believes the government has a moral responsibility to pay the elderly what they have paid in to Social Security, countering a claim by a Newhouse TV commercial that he wants to phase out the program.
But Didier has repeated the claims about eliminating Social Security as recently as this week, Newhouse said.
The Benton and Franklin Republican parties advised students who were leading the debate.
Robert Gutierrez, Chiawana's social studies department chair, came up with the idea for the debate in June. Students in a dozen classes then researched the election and generated questions for the debate. A committee narrowed the questions down to 10, and students who had their questions asked received a $10 gift certificate to the school store.
Earlier Tuesday, Newhouse picked up the endorsement of Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the only statewide elected Republican in Washington, who told the Herald's editorial board that supporting him is an easy choice.
-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom