It was the event of the night in East Texas. Close to 1,000 people in attendance at the first public debate between Congressman Democrat Max Sandlin and his opponent, Republican Louie Gohmert. Contentious at times -- the match-up at Turner Auditorium at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches covered an array of topics.
That included the War on Terror, Social Security, and what each would do to bring federal dollars to East Texas.
Our Joe Terrell was the moderator, joined by three panelists: one from our sister station KTRE 9, the Nacogdoches paper and the SFA student newspaper. You can watch the debate exclusively Tuesday night here on KLTV at 7 pm.
As a preview to what you'll see then, one of the most tense moments came when the two candidates discussed the negative campaign ads, running on TV, radio and through the mail.
Democrat Max Sandlin: "We need to run on issues that are important. We need to talk about what we're going to do to create jobs in America and not overseas. We need to talk about what we're going to do to get insurance for our families. We need to talk about what we're going to do about prescription drugs. That's what we need to focus on in the campaign, and not negative attack ads."
Republican Louie Gohmert: "[Sandlin] says I care more about China than I do about the United States and [in a campaign ad] put my name in front of a red Chinese communist flag and that was the first negative ad of the whole campaign. And for someone who's been in the Army and taken an oath to defend this nation, to have my name associated with a red Chinese flag is abominable."
It was a divided house with each candidate having about the same number of supporters in the audience. When asked who won, the voters we talked to were adamant their candidate had won.
You can attend the second public debate between Republican Louie Gohmert and Democrat Max Sandlin next Monday at UT Tyler's Cowan Center at 7 o'clock. It will be broadcast the next day, again in its entirety, only on KLTV, at 7 pm.