QUEENSBURY -- One thing was clear from the 20th Congressional District debate on Tuesday evening: Voters are engaged and paying attention to the contest between U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, and Republican challenger Chris Gibson.
A standing room only crowd packed the Queensbury High School auditorium that seats 860 people.
Voters simply couldn't contain their enthusiasm and frequently broke out in cheering for one candidate or the other, despite repeatedly being asked by the moderator, and a few times by the candidates, not to applaud.
The candidates didn't disappoint those who came looking for heated exchanges.
Murphy criticized Gibson for being opposed to raising taxes on the foreign operations of multinational companies. Murphy said raising those taxes will make U.S. operations more competitive with foreign branches of the same corporations.
"And, Chris, I think you should reconsider that position like you did on the small business bill, and come out and be in favor of making it easier for companies to invest here," Murphy said.
Murphy suggested Gibson "flip-flopped" by coming out in support of the small business bill after his campaign issued a press release weeks earlier saying Gibson was against it.
But Gibson said it was a miscommunication.
"You know the issue with the Small Business Administration, that was my fault," Gibson said. "I don't hide behind my staff. I didn't communicate to them, and it was my fault."
But he said he supports the bill because of the things he hears from small business owners.
Gibson, on the other hand, criticized Murphy for voting for the final health care reform bill after voting against an earlier version.
"You know, he said he was a fiscal conservative, but he didn't represent us in that way in Washington, D.C.," Gibson said. "He sided with Speaker Pelosi and flip-flopped on that health care bill. It's ironic that he called me flip-flop."
The candidates disagreed on whether temporary tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year should be extended.
Murphy said the tax cuts should be extended for families earning less than $250,000 a year, but expire for those earning more than that.
Gibson said the tax cuts should be extended for everyone.
They also disagreed about policy on gays in the military.
Murphy said the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should be ended.
Gibson said the issue has been "politicized," and that Congress should wait for a report from a military commission before deciding what to do.
But the candidates also found areas of agreement, including supporting President Obama's strategy in the war in Afghanistan.
The debate was sponsored by the Warren County League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women, Adirondack Chapter.