12th District Republican candidates square off at forum

Trading only a few jabs before a conservative audience in Evans, four Republicans seeking to take on 12th Dis­trict U.S. Rep. John Barrow in November tried to distinguish themselves from one another Saturday.


Evans attorney Wright McLeod accused Augusta businessman Rick Allen of “benefiting from stimulus funding” used for one of his construction projects.

Allen fired back that the mortgages the real estate attorney closes on to “put food on the table” were being bought “every day by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” the federal housing agencies.

Allen levied a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission over McLeod’s financial disclosures.

Moderator Phil Kent, a former editorial page editor for The Augus­ta Chronicle, gave state Rep. Lee Anderson a chance to address the role of the Federal Re­serve Bank, which Anderson confused with federal revenues in a Statesboro debate.

“I would believe that they need to be audited annually so that we would know exactly what they are doing,” Anderson said.

Kent asked McLeod to explain why a Republican would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson in 2008 or make a large contribution to Rob Teilhet, a former Democratic candidate for Georgia attorney general – points raised in earlier debates.

“What’s not being said is that I’ve donated to many, many Republican campaigns,” McLeod said.

Asked about her recent allegation that McLeod was “tracking” her by filming her recent speech to a Republican women’s group, Dublin lawyer Maria Sheffield said she appreciated the other candidates’ unwillingness to seek “gotcha” moments on film to use against one another.

"If someone is behaving that way, I think it’s perfectly OK for me to put it out there,” Sheffield said.

The four candidates drew applause on how they'll address several key issues.



RICK ALLEN: “The best way to cut entitlement spending is to grow the economy and create jobs … Once we get the economy growing, we’ve got to audit every area of this government and we’ve got to ask the tough questions.”

LEE ANDERSON: “We have to get the federal government mandates and regulations off our businesses where they can create jobs. I’m the only candidate that’s willing to say I’ll cut each and every department 5 percent to 10 percent.”

WRIGHT MCLEOD: “My opponent said he’d cut 5 percent to 10 percent of discretionary spending. That doesn’t work,
do the math. You’re making the minimum payment on the
credit card but the balance continues to go up.”

MARIA SHEFFIELD: “There are certain agencies that we need to look at eliminating: the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Social entitlements are unconstitutional from the beginning.”


ALLEN: “What made this country great is a decentralized government. The best way to stop it is for our electorate to get out there and send John Barrow back wherever he’s from, and send Obama wherever he’s from.”

ANDERSON: “The main thing you do is repeal the entire Obama health care, period. The second thing is I’m fed up, just like you are, with our Supreme Court justices. We need to have more conservative Supreme Court justices.”

MCLEOD: “Create a capitalistic environment within the medical community … You have to have skin in the game or you abuse the system. There is a need for a safety net. I just don’t think that safety net can be best handled by the federal government.”

SHEFFIELD: “You introduce legislation to repeal the bill. It is a tax on the American people, the largest tax the world has ever seen.”



ALLEN: “The tax code is not fair and equitable. The bottom line is you’ve got the government on the one side doing everything they can to restrict business, then on the other side they’re going to give money over here, to who we want to give it to, so we can create jobs. Folks, that’s just wrong. It should have never happened.”

MCLEOD: “Fifty percent of the electorate pays nothing. There are plenty of options out there – the fair tax, the flat tax … Wright McLeod is trying to shift from an income-based to a consumption-based economy. I just want everybody to pay something.”

ANDERSON: “I have no problem whatsoever with a fair tax. The government can’t stand it because the government has to know exactly how much money they’re going to get every year.”



ANDERSON: “Let the local banks have more say-so in loaning loans, so they could help the people they know the best.”

MCLEOD: “I’m for a free market. I want the banks to have the right to make good loans or bad loans. Get rid of the Dodd-Frank Act and let the free market capitalist system take over.”

ALLEN: “The federal housing administration was started by Carter, then it was on steroids under President Clinton. We were all a part of the problem. The only way to correct it is the free market process. The only way to solve this problem is to get the regulations out of the way.”

SHEFFIELD: “Dodd-Frank is strangling (banks) and their ability to make loans. It’s created so much red tape and regulations they don’t want to make loans. We absolutely have to repeal that legislation.”



SHEFFIELD: “When we commit to going into war it’s important that we just don’t jump and run. When we do that, it allows countries who don’t like us very much, or in this case, terrorists, to go in and take control of the country.”

MCLEOD: “The idea that we can go into Afghanistan and build roads and bridges and everything is going to be hunky-dory could not be further from the truth. Colin Powell said it correctly, ‘If you break it, you own it.’ ”

ANDERSON: “I think it’s time to bring the troops home and take care of ourselves. We must get our own country back on track.”

ALLEN: “We have enemies, we have people that want to stop our way of life. We have to deal with those enemies. I was taught to love your neighbor, to try to help in every way, but you know, folks, we don’t have the money and this pace is unsustainable that we’re on.”



ANDERSON: “We should shut down the whole Department of Education … Get the paperwork off the teachers’ backs where they can educate our children … We must get back to where there’s some local control.”

MCLEOD: “Show me in the Constitution where the federal government has power over education. It’s just not there. In my opinion, No Child Left Behind is unconstitutional. Absolutely, positively, education decisions don’t need to be made in Washington, D.C.”

ALLEN: “No Child Left Behind was created because the students couldn’t read, couldn’t write, couldn’t do basic math. The wrong approach was for the federal government and the bureaucrats in Washington to legislate that they had to meet certain standards. We have a responsibility as parents to educate our children. We need to put that responsibility back into the home. This government is devastating to the family.”

SHEFFIELD: “The Department of Education was created under Carter as payback to the National Education Association. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. I’m a proud student of public education. My parents never expected they would have teachers teaching to a test, teachers changing answers on a test to ensure funding stays in place. We need charter schools, religious schools, home schools.”

SLIDESHOW: 12th District Republican forum