THORNTON — Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall squared off Tuesday with the Republican and Libertarian candidates vying for his 2nd Congressional District seat during an hourlong forum that touched on Iraq, North Korea, health care and immigration.
Udall, Republican Rich Mancuso and Libertarian Norm Olsen made similar points about international issues while speaking to about 40 members of the Northglenn-Thornton Rotary Club at the Radisson Greystone Castle hotel.
Each candidate said diplomacy would be the best tool for dealing with North Korea, which claims to have tested a nuclear weapon earlier this week.
They also endorsed a quick withdrawal from Iraq.
“We liberated them. Why aren’t we out now?” Mancuso said. “We will never see democracy in a nation that is based on one industry. ... Their industry is oil.”
But the candidates split when asked about reforming health care.
Udall suggested letting individual states devise programs to cover their residents’ medical needs. The most successful state programs could be models for a comprehensive national program.
“Let’s see who comes up with the best approach,” Udall said. “There is a role for government ... in deciding how the market should operate.”
Mancuso and Olsen staunchly argued that health care must be run by the private sector. Olsen suggested using a high-deductible health insurance that covers major health procedures only.
In their opening statements, Udall and Mancuso both made a point to say that U.S. immigration policy needs an overhaul to control millions of undocumented workers entering the country.
At several points, Mancuso and Olsen criticized Congress at large for unchecked spending and promised to be fiscally conservative if elected.
“I want a representative in Congress that’s going to say ‘I draw the line’ and refuse to increase the debt burden on our children,” Olsen said.
Udall argued the three candidates have more agreements than disagreements. He and Mancuso vowed to push for alternative energy as a way to wean the United States off its current petroleum consumption levels and ultimately make the country more secure.
Green Party candidate J.A. Calhoun didn’t attend the forum.
Brad Turner can be reached at 720-494-5420 or by e-mail at