By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News
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Dicks, 69, and Cloud, 53, sparred before 250 to 300 people during a fast-paced forum sponsored by the Clallam County League of Women Voters in a cavernous, cathedral-like setting inside Sequim Community Church.
Dicks and Cloud were slated to appear together for a forum only on education at Tacoma's Whitman Elementary School on Wednesday night, but no other general face-offs between the two were planned, Dicks spokesman George Behan said.
On Wednesday morning, ballots went out to 378,674 voters in the 6th Congressional District, which includes Clallam, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, Mason and Kitsap counties, and part of Tacoma in Pierce County.
It was also a day for Dicks, who lives in Belfair, and Cloud, a Tacoma attorney who lives in Gig Harbor, to differ face to face before a lively audience.
With Cloud's words often cheered and clapped-- despite moderator Cathy Claney's admonition against such demonstrations and her threat to cut the debate short -- Cloud said he wanted to "change this country and change the world" and urged dependence more on individual initiative.
"I intend to try to get this country moving again to get out of the habit of looking to sugar daddies in Washington," he said, frequently referring to Dicks as Norm.
Dicks pointed to his experience as a long-term member of Congress and what that has done for his constituents, and said his clout could grow.
He predicted he would become the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee if he is re-elected and if his party stays as the House majority.
Dicks told of his work on salmon restoration, said the tear-down of the Elwha River dams -- which is to begin next September -- will bring needed jobs to the area and criticized Cloud for wanting to shut down the federal departments of Education and Energy, which he said could affect jobs at Battelle Marine Science Lab in Sequim and the generation of new alternative-energy jobs nationwide.
Cloud said vital functions in those agencies could be absorbed by other federal agencies and that his proposal made him the candidate with ideas on how to fight the federal deficit, expected to exceed $1.4 trillion this year.
Dicks said that deficit was largely due to the economic policies of former President George W. Bush, prompting jeers.
"We were losing 900,000 jobs monthly," he said, suggesting that a bipartisan infrastructure construction program should be enacted.
Dicks touted his bipartisanship in recently cobbling together $700 million in defense cuts with Republican C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., in the House and frequently cast himself in the mold of the late Washington Sens. Henry "Scoop" Jackson and Warren Magnuson.
Cloud hammered at Dicks for voting "99 percent of the time" with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Said Dicks: "I don't know if Mr. Cloud is listening. I cut $700 million."
The candidates also differed sharply on health care reform legislation Congress passed this summer.
Cloud said he "absolutely" would repeal it, prompting booing and clapping from the audience.
"Premiums are going up now," he said, adding that the health care system "cannot offer more services for less money and expect the services to be the same quality.
Cloud said "Obamacare" would raid Medicare "to the tune of $500 million."
Dicks said the legislation would guarantee health care to 32 million uninsured Americans and create health care clinics for low-income Americans.
Asked about the Second Amendment, Cloud called the Constitution one of the most perfect documents every written.
The Second Amendment's granting of the right to bear arms, he said, was formed as a check against government, "to keep us from being subservient when that government grows wicked."
Dicks responded that he supports hunting for sport.
"I would do more to enhance the National Guard," he said.
Dicks defended his use of "earmarks," calling them one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, and said he championed a ban on earmarks for private companies.
"He takes your money and flushes it down the influence-peddling toilet," Cloud responded, calling it "downright corruption" and criticizing Dicks for helping to procure funding for Intellicheck Mobilisa, a Port Townsend-based maker of wireless identity systems.
On illegal immigration, Cloud said he is tired of "watching people skate across our border with their finger in the air" and of those who brand as racists others who call for tougher immigration enforcement.
Dicks suggested there should be options other than deportation for 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in this country if they don't have criminal records.
Continuing their litany of disagreements, Dicks said the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should expire but that cuts should remain for the 98 percent of other Americans, while Cloud said they shouldn't expire for anyone.
Cloud argued that 48 percent of all revenue generated by all businesses would be taxed at a higher rate if the tax cut is not extended.
Dicks and Cloud returned to their opening themes in their closing statements.
"I believe we need to do more to create jobs in this country," Dicks said, noting the departments of Energy and Education need to be part of a job-creation strategy.
Cloud said "Norm" had 34 years to do what he was claiming he would do if re-elected to an 18th term.
"His time is up," said Cloud, who is making his fifth run to unseat Dicks.
Senior Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.