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Published: Wednesday, 9/29/2010

Kaptur, Iott move swiftly to remedy debate flubs

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Marcy Kaptur and Rich Iott held their first televised debate Monday night at Bowsher High in Toledo, during which the rivals split on government's role. Marcy Kaptur and Rich Iott held their first televised debate Monday night at Bowsher High in Toledo, during which the rivals split on government's role.
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Marcy Kaptur's campaign said Tuesday that the congressman misspoke in a debate Monday night when she said both General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC had repaid their government loans, and the Rich Iott campaign Tuesday clarified that the challenger supports the 1964 Civil Rights Act - a stance he would not take during the debate.

Steve Fought, a spokesman for Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo), said that GM repaid the loan that it received, about $6.7 billion, from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, but that Miss Kaptur erred in saying that Chrysler's loan was repaid.

He blamed the verbal flub on Miss Kaptur trying to say too much in too short a period of time.

In the first televised debate of the hotly contested 9th Congressional District race Monday night, Mr. Iott (R., Monclova Township) - backed by local Tea Party activists - said the bailouts of the automakers were an intrusion by the federal government into private enterprise and said the companies should have had to face the consequences of the marketplace.

Miss Kaptur said failure to support the auto companies would have cost thousands of jobs and affected 45,000 people regionally who depend directly on the car industry, and that it would have amounted to surrendering an important national industry.

"Both companies, both Chrysler and General Motors, have now paid back the loans that they got," Miss Kaptur said during the debate.

In fact, Chrysler has not repaid its loan, although its leadership has vowed to do so.

And some dispute whether GM's payback was a true payback. GM received about $55.7 billion, of which $6.7 billion was a loan and about $49 billion was equity in the company.

Matt Parker, a spokesman for Mr. Iott, said that GM used other TARP money to repay the $6.7 billion.

"They used government money to pay back the government, and the federal government is still 61 percent owners of GM and 9.9 percent owners of Chrysler," said Mr. Parker. "That's not what capitalism is all about."

Department of Treasury officials said Tuesday that GM, Chrysler, GMAC, and Chrysler Financial have received a total of $82 billion from the federal government. Of that, $11.2 billion has been repaid, along with $2.7 billion in interest.

GM's loan repayment of $6.7 billion was paid out of its own cash reserves, which had been replenished with a $49 billion cash infusion from TARP, Treasury officials said. The old Chrysler company received a loan of $4 billion in late 2008 from the Bush administration, of which $2 billion was repaid. The new Chrysler company was lent $6 billion, which is due for full repayment in 2017. Federal officials said interest payments are current.

In response to a question during Monday night's debate about whether he supports the 1964 Civil Rights Act, or would support it if it came up for another vote, Mr. Iott didn't respond directly, leading the Kaptur campaign to proclaim that Mr. Iott did not support the law.

"I think that the Constitution says that all people should be afforded the same rights in any situation that is a public situation," Mr. Iott said Monday night. "I wasn't there, I couldn't tell you what happened back then."

Tuesday, Mr. Parker said Mr. Iott supports the law that made it illegal for restaurants and hotels and other businesses that offer public accommodations to refuse service to anyone based on race.

"He didn't make his position clear, but he supports the Civil Rights Act," Mr. Parker said. He said Mr. Iott was in a "nerve-wracking" situation as a first-time candidate confronting an opponent with 28 years in office.

The Kaptur campaign said Mr. Iott's unclear comment on the 1964 law revealed an "extremist" viewpoint.

"Rich Iott, on the other hand, made it clear last night that he would take America backward to a time when African-Americans were systematically denied the right to vote and barred from the rights of full citizenship," Mr. Fought said.

He said it was "amazing" that Mr. Iott claims to have knowledge about the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution in the 18th century, but knows nothing about the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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