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Rep. Blake Moore, Paul Miller square off in 1st District primary debate

By Ryan Aston - | Jun 11, 2024
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Paul Miller, left, and Blake Moore participate in a 1st Congressional District GOP primary debate at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024.
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Blake Moore gestures while speaking during a 1st Congressional District GOP primary debate at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024.
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Phil Miller gestures while speaking during a 1st Congressional District GOP primary debate at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024.
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Paul Miller, left, and Blake Moore shake hands during a 1st Congressional District GOP primary debate at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 10, 2024.

SALT LAKE CITY — Voters in Utah’s 1st Congressional District, which spans from Salt Lake City to Logan and encompasses all of Weber County, had an opportunity to hear from incumbent U.S. Rep. Blake Moore and South Ogden electrician Paul Miller during a GOP primary debate Monday.

The debate was sponsored by the Utah Debate Commission and emanated from the University of Utah’s Eccles Broadcast Center, home to PBS Utah. It was moderated by Julie Rose, host of BYU Radio’s “Top of Mind” podcast.

During the debate, Moore emphasized his legislative experience, his work in support of Hill Air Force Base and veterans, as well as the push to reelect former President Donald Trump and also extend some of the policies put forth during his administration.

Miller, meanwhile, attempted to distinguish himself from Moore by espousing his commitment to helping the state’s middle class, reducing federal spending and the role of federal government at large, as well as bringing “real change” to Washington, D.C.

The candidates responded to a series of questions and were given opportunities to rebut opponent statements. The proceedings grew contentious at times as Miller criticized Moore’s congressional record and Moore accused his opponent of misrepresenting that record.

A number of topics were covered during the debate, including the following:

Growing workforce needs at Hill AFB

Miller spoke of his desire to promote continued growth at the base. However, he also claimed that military spending should be carefully monitored, saying, “We’re spending way too much.”

For his part, Moore said it was important that existing programs like the F-35 and Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile programs continue to be funded. He also called for the repeal of the “180-day rule,” which specifies when retired armed forces members can apply to civilian positions within the U.S. Department of Defense.

Possible U.S. military response to Russian aggression

“I am anti-Russia. I don’t like (Russian President Vladimir Putin),” Miller said on the topic. “That’s a complex situation. We have an agreement with NATO and so, yes, there probably is going to be a response because we are in that agreement.”

Meanwhile, Moore said the U.S. should do whatever is necessary to preserve lives, but acknowledged that the country would respond if a NATO ally was attacked. He further criticized Russian movement during the Biden administration, as well as that of former President Barack Obama.

He also spoke about supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia but advised against entering into an “endless war.” Miller, though, questioned the end goal with Ukraine, saying that the country isn’t a U.S. ally or an entity that has an economic impact domestically.

He added that the U.S. should be more focused on immigration and the southern border with Mexico.

Solving the ‘immigration crisis’

House Resolution 2 — also known as the Secure the Border Act of 2023 — was touted by both candidates as a means to deal with immigration issues. Moore criticized Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats for stymying the legislation.

“Unless you do the border security apparatus first, Remain in Mexico, end catch and release, fix the parole authority, you will only invite more border cartel activity at the southern border. And that’s what’s been going on in this crisis over the last three years,” Moore said.

Said Miller: “I’m not here to compromise on the Democrats’ immigration policies. I think the laws that we have in place right now are the laws that we need to continue, and we just need to enforce the law.”

He also accused Moore of funding Biden’s border policies.

Reduction of health care costs

Moore said there must be a greater focus on “transparency and competition” in the health care marketplace.

“You have the choice as a consumer to make decisions virtually every day when you go to the grocery store, which tires you’re going to go put on your car. … You get a chance just to identify what’s going to be cheap or what’s going to be not. We don’t have that in the (health care) system,” Moore said.

For his part, Miller said the federal government should have less say in the health coverage that Americans have.

“We need to not always turn to the federal government to solve all of our problems,” Moore said. “I think the more regulation and the more policies around this are just going to hurt the middle class and low income families.”

Abortion

Miller stated that he would not support legislation allowing abortion up to 15 weeks and emphasized states’ rights in the abortion debate. He also clarified that he would vote yes on a federal abortion ban and described himself as “pro-life.”

“Was the Emancipation Proclamation good legislation? Well, yes, it was. Why? Because all men are created equal. Well, aren’t all babies created equal? If life begins at conception, isn’t that a baby?” Miller explained.

Said Moore: “Utah is making it very clear that we support life and we want to make sure that there is a deterrence from what existed during Roe.”

Both candidates noted that abortion probably wouldn’t be an issue that comes up during the next legislative session.

Other topics covered during the debate included working in a divided congress or with a narrow majority, whether to compromise on bills that include items that don’t fit with candidate/party beliefs, the Second Amendment and gun legislation, Trump-era tax cuts, improving partnerships between the state and federal government for the management of land, the Internal Revenue Service’s sizable presence in Ogden and the future of Medicare.

The debate can be viewed in its entirety at https://www.youtube.com/live/2xue14HAjP0?si=WIkCb58p9QpwBklZ.

Primary Election Day is June 25.

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