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US House Candidates Stress Contrasts Before Debate
Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Kim Gillan highlighted their differences
BILLINGS – Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Kim Gillan highlighted their differences over guns and health care as they headed into their second debate in Montana's U.S. House race on Tuesday.

Daines launched a new ad criticizing Gillan for being opposed to gun owner's rights, raising taxes and backing President Barack Obama's health care law. Gillan's campaign responded by saying Daines was diverting attention from his allegiance to a Republican budget that drastically alters Medicare and cuts college aid.

The exchange highlights a rise in rhetoric from both sides with five weeks until Election Day. Montana's sole House seat is up for grabs after incumbent Rep. Denny Rehberg decided to run for U.S. Senate.

Libertarian David Kaiser was not invited to the debate hosted by Montana State University-Billings and Billings Gazette Communications because he polled below 5 percent in a September voter survey. That poll by Lee Newspapers of Montana showed Gillan down 8 percentage points to Daines, 46 to 38 percent with 14 percent undecided.

Kaiser said in a statement that he represents an alternative for people tired of sending the "least of the worst" candidates to Washington. He pledged to break a cycle of corruption and overspending in Congress if elected.

For Gillan, the face-off offers the chance to cut into Daines' apparent lead if she can convince voters of her contention that Daines is a member of the Republican party's radical wing.

The first debate between the candidates was a relatively tepid event, with Daines avoiding direct mention of his opponent even as Gillan sought to draw him out as a supporter of Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's budget plan.

Daines has not backed away from the link to Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee. He said Tuesday he was honored to benefit from a $250-per-person fundraiser that Ryan hosted on his behalf at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., in August.

Gillan has served 16 years in the Montana Legislature, hitting her term limit in the Senate this year. She's hoping to fill a seat last held by Democrats in 1996 and to be the first woman elected to the state's congressional delegation in 72 years.

Daines waged an unsuccessful 2008 campaign to be Montana's lieutenant governor but has never held political office. His political interests date back to the 1984 GOP convention, when he was a delegate for Ronald Reagan.
On 10-03-12, Just Jean commented....
I’ve watched Sen. Gillan over the years. She’s smart, articulate, and seems to be fair. However, I’m supporting Steve Daines for two reasons: he has impressive credentials in business development, understanding what it takes to build and run successful businesses (good paying jobs, folks!);…
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