Four candidates competing for Idaho's Republican gubernatorial nomination squared off in a debate on Wednesday, and the performance from a pair of eccentric long-shot candidates has since lit up the Internet.
The Republican incumbent, Gov. Butch Otter, was joined onstage by state Sen. Russ Fulcher, who came dressed for the part in a suit, Harley Brown, a biker clad in leather, and Walt Bayes, an anti-abortion activist sporting a western-style khaki shirt and a beard that would make the members of ZZ Top jealous.
A few serious issues were discussed, including Obamacare and abortion, but it was the eyebrow raising remarks from Brown and Bayes than have generated such publicity.
Bikers "are cop magnets like a Playboy bunny wearing a mini skirt that gets hit on all the time," complained Brown at one point. "They pull us over without probable cause and they bring out the sniffing dogs and they search us and our bikes, even when we're not flying our colors. If you're a leather clad Harley Davidson driver, the cops are going to zero in on you like a heat-seeking missile."
Brown also defended his penchant for off-color remarks, which he calls his "Harley-isms."
"I hit everybody: Jews, Polish people, Irish, Italians, religious jokes and black jokes," he said. "I don't like political correctness. It sucks. It's bondage... I'm about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punchbowl. And I'm proud of it."
Brown also surprised some by declaring his support for same-sex marriage. During his time as a taxi driver, he said, "I've picked up my share of the gay community. And they have true love for one another. I'm telling you, they love each other more than I love my motorcycle...I'm glad they want to get married and live like that."
According to the Idaho Statesman, the debate was broadcast with a 30-second delay because organizers were worried about Brown's frequent profanity.
Bayes offered a few zingers of his own. " I honestly think half of the Republican Party is Democrats and half of the Democratic Party is Communists," he said.
He also said he'd once been jailed for homeschooling his 16 children. "They told me we couldn't home-school. I prayed about it. I stood on my hind legs like a man. I told them what I thought of them," he said. "Well what would you do if they came out to take your kids? Well, you'd shoot them. What else would you do?"
Neither Brown nor Bayes is considered a serious threat to Otter's reelection bid, but Fulcher may be another matter: he's been endorsed by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, a favorite of conservative activists in the state who are hoping to oust Otter in the primary.
Otter, perhaps hoping to avoid a one-on-one confrontation with his most serious rival, insisted that all of the candidates be included in the debate.
"A statewide debate that excludes candidates is an exercise in elitism," Otter said, according to the Statesman. "If some candidates don't meet your personal expectations, don't vote for them. But if they qualify to be on the ballot, they should be able to participate in the process."
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