Iraq war veteran Roger Roth today called for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, saying there is no clearly defined mission for them.
Roth, an Appleton state representative, debated GOP rivals Reid Ribble and Terri McCormick today as the three speed toward the Sept. 14 primary for the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton.
While McCormick and Ribble agreed government officials have not clearly defined the mission in Afghanistan, they said they support funding a troop presence in that country.
Roth, who served with the Wisconsin Air National Guard for seven years and completed three tours of duty in Iraq, took a shot at his opponents over their stance.
“We either need to give our troops a mission and a clear path to victory or we need to take them home,” Roth said. “I will not continue to support a war that we cannot win. My opponents are hypocrites because they don’t agree with the war strategy, but they want to continue to fund it.”
The three met in a debate broadcast on WTAQ in Green Bay and moderated by radio host Jerry Bader. He questioned Ribble, a roofer, on his perceived flip-flop on the immigration issue.
The inconsistency came out of a 2006 interview in which Ribble questioned whether the U.S. should close its borders. He also reportedly supported a 2005 bill that likely would have provided amnesty to illegal immigrants already in the U.S.
“My stance has been consistent,” Ribble said. “There’s a lot of misinformation. The plan that I supported required illegal immigrants to pay a $2,000 penalty and back taxes, required them to undergo a background check and drug testing and would have made them get in line behind the millions of others who are participating in the citizenship process.”
Roth said he has been consistently vocal about the government’s need to secure the borders and enforce existing laws and said he has never supported amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“To allow people who’ve come here illegally and disregarded our laws to receive amnesty by paying a small fine and cutting in front of millions of people who are in line to come here the right and proper way is just plain wrong,” Roth said.
McCormick, who referred to herself as a constitutional conservative Republican, agreed with Roth. They both said they support sending illegal immigrants back to their home countries and requiring them to apply for citizenship via the proper legal process.
The Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which advocates for stricter immigration enforcement, today endorsed Roth in the race. It alleged Ribble, while serving as president of the National Roofing Contractors Association, "supported the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill that would have paved the way for amnesty."
When the debate conversation turned to abortion, it was McCormick who stood apart from the others. Ribble and Roth said they oppose abortion in all cases, while McCormick said she supports exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother. All three candidates are endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life.
Despite their differences, Ribble, a roofing contractor from Sherwood; McCormick, a businesswoman from Greenville and a former state representative; and Roth, a homebuilder from Grand Chute; spent most of the debate agreeing with each other’s stance on the issues. They largely had only subtle differences in how to execute changes.
“We’re in a Republican primary so everything gets pushed to the right,” Ribble said. “We’re all trying to out-right everybody. The real opponent in this race is Steve Kagen, and with him there are plenty of differences to point to.”
The candidates agreed the current national health care package does not address the root problems of increasing health care and prescription drug costs. Ribble said repealing the health care law is futile because as long as President Barack Obama is in office, he will veto a bill that would do so. He said his focus will be to “defund” the current plan so it is impossible to implement and then repair the existing health care system.
Roth said he will fight to repeal the federal health care plan. Not only do lawmakers need to show citizens that they care, but they need to plan ahead for a change in administration that could come with the 2012 presidential election, he said. The best way to do both is by repealing the law and creating a sound reform package to replace it, he said.
McCormick said both her opponents’ ideas are based on a five-point plan she authored to replace the reforms.