It wasn't as interesting as the R Senate debates this week because there were fewer direct attacks on other candidates.
Other than that, however, there wasn't any significant difference between the two forums - all of the R candidates are running against brown people and for big business.
"Highlights" in no particular order:
David Schweikert blamed his 2008 loss to Congressman Harry Mitchell on the "toxic" environment for conservative Republicans engendered by the passage of TARP and the financial sector bailouts (on the plus side, even though he probably didn't realize it at the time, the makes Schweikert one of the few Rs to admit that the blame for the economic meltdown falls upon the Republicans' failed economic ideology and upon the Rs' keepers on Wall St.)
Lee Gentry, also a 2008 candidate, attributed his somewhat lackluster showing (706 votes, fewer than his number of signatures on his nominating petitions) to "building momentum" and equated himself to Michael Jordan when he was cut from his high school hoops team but went on to greatness anyway. I kid you not...
Chris Salvino wants to address issues along the U.S./Mexico border by building a high wall topped with razor wire and closely spaced blockhouses all along the border. Sort of a 21st Century Maginot Line, something that didn't work so well for the French in 1940, but...
Susan Bitter Smith blamed Arizona's economic woes on undocumented immigrants, saying that getting rid of them will cure all.
All of them hate Health Care Reform, wanting to repeal the bill passed earlier this year and replace it with tort reform and "the free market." Most of them mentioned tort reform even before they spoke about patients.
Misspeak of the night - Gentry with "we are a nation of native Americans and legal immigrants" and everybody else should take a number. I'm pretty sure Native American groups, some of which are in CD5 (Salt River Pima/Maricopa Indian Community), might have something to say about that one...
In a series of yes/no questions, all of them opposed extending Unemployment Insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed, earmarks, the DREAM Act, tax credits/incentives for solar and renewable energy efforts (unless existing energy sources, and corporations, are protected) and favor a Constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage (except for Gentry, who pledged to fight for LGBT issues if elected. It was the only serious break with Republican orthodoxy in the hour.) One candidate, I'm not sure which, opposed a Constitution amendment, but only because he thought it would devalue Constitutional amendments, not because he supported the rights of freely consenting adults to enter the relationships that they choose.
In short, the hour was spent with each candidate swearing loyalty and obeisance to the main tenets of Republican thought, and swearing that they were more loyal and obedient that the others - brown people bad, President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Democrats in general bad, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy good.
Normally, I can watch one of these things find a candidate who, if not exactly "good", is less bad than the others, but not here. Other than Gentry's support of LGBT issues (and Gentry doesn't have a snowball's chance in Phoenix of making it through the primary), this bunch is reading from the same pages of the "more conservative than thou" playbook, a playbook that doesn't allow for candidates who will do anything for the districts that they are campaigning to "represent."
One interesting thing about the forum was something that *didn't* come up, something that could have afforded the assembled candidates the ability to separate themselves - abortion rights.
I don't know about the others, but Susan Bitter Smith has a pro-choice record.
It's the sort of thing that doesn't play well in Republican primaries. Given that the Scottsdale Republic was the sponsor of the forum, that omission may be a clue as to which candidate they plan on endorsing.
They probably don't want to undercut their preferred choice, before she even has a chance to become the nominee.
Not that I'm a cynic or anything... :)