Obamacare in crosshairs at GOP Senate forum

Five seeking to take on Jeff Merkley square off in Bend

GOP Senate candidates face off

For the first time, the five GOP candidates hoping to unseat Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., met Tuesday night in a joint forum hosted by the Deschutes County Republican Party.

They are state Rep. Jason Conger of Bend, Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby, Portland attorney Tim Crawley, former Linn County GOP Chair Jo Rae Perkins and Mark Callahan from Salem.

The candidates answered questions in a packed room at the Shilo Inn on topics that ranged from the timber industry to foreign policy.

But the No 1 issue for all candidates was governmental overreach --especially when it comes to Obamacare.

Conger: "We just got a front-row seat to watch the beginning of the train wreck that is Obamacare. The good news is that America is ready for a new direction. If you listen carefully, you can actually hear the soft sound of the tide turning. I think in 2014, that sound is going to become a roar from the electorate."

Wheby: "The main concern I have about the health care law is it destroying the doctor patient relationship, which is key."

Perkins: "We are throwing out a plan that was not broken -- it needed a tune up, that's what it needed. I am a fan of high-deductible catastrophic care insurance. Save some money. Let's get rid of the Obamacare Act."

Crawley: "When it has the opportunity to make uniform standards across the country, it will do so."

Callahan: "The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is not choice. The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is tyranny."

It was still "friendly fire" among the candidates Tuesday night, but that might change as the primary moves closer.

On May 20th, voters will decide which candidate will run against Merkley in the November general election.

Whoever it will be has some fundraising catching up to do: Merkley already has raised $3 million.

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