REDMOND, Ore. - Three of the Republican candidates hoping to unseat Democrat Jeff Merkley this fall met at the Highland Baptist Church in Redmond Monday night for a forum hosted by the Redmond Patriots.
Jo Rae Perkins, Jason Conger and Mark Callahan discussed their views with the audience. The issues ranged from the Affordable Care Act to immigration.
"I call for the full repeal of Obamacare," Callahan said. "The government should not be involved in our health care. It's just one arm of the tentacle that is reaching into our lives."
"The kind of top-down, government-run, one-size-fits-all approach has got to go," Conger said.
"I'm going to guess that more than 50 percent of you in this room are not planning on an Abraham and Sara event in your lives any time soon." Perkins said. "Why in the world should you have to pay for maternity care?"
The trio also talked about gun rights.
"The point of owning that gun is to protect ourselves from the crazies that are out there -- that's the point," Perkins said.
"Expanding background checks, restricting ammunition further than it already is -- I mean, that's ridiculous," Conger said.
"Our freedoms, our rights were given to us by God. The Constitution restricts what the government can do with our rights," Callahan said.
The candidates never went after each other. Instead, they focused on how they felt on certain issues and why they think Merkley has to go.
"Merkley believes in big government as a solution to the problem, Callahan said. "I see big government as the problem, not the solution."
"When are you going to get some guts? Instead of chasing your tail around and putting your finger in the wind, we've got to have someone in there to take some action," Perkins said.
"He (Merkley) is so far out of step with the vast majority of Oregonians that he is vulnerable," Conger said.
The woman who many see as a front runner for the Republican nomination, Dr. Monica Wehby, was unable to make it to the forum.
Over the weekend, she won a straw poll at the Republicans' Dorchester Conference. Wehby beat Conger, 182 to 131.