RAY PFEIFFER/Herald photo

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and her Republican opponent Dave Magnum faced off on their differing stances on economic, political and environmental topics in a global issues forum Sunday.

Sponsored by 20 community- and University of Wisconsin-based organizations, the debate began with a question addressing the issue of greenhouse gases.

Baldwin, a four-term incumbent and member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said "current Republican leadership … are climate change deniers."

In addition, Baldwin pointed to various strategies for reducing and ultimately eliminating the United States' dependence on foreign oil.

"It involves renewables, it involves alternative fuels, and it will result not only in securing us in terms of our environmental future, but also our national security," she said.

Magnum — owner of Magnum Broadcasting Group, which encompasses eight radio stations and one television station in three parts of Wisconsin — said there is "a lot of dispute as to whether or not [global warming] is all just cyclical or whether or not mankind is causing this."

"If there's anything we're going to err on the side of caution on, it's our environment," he added.

The forum, held before a packed crowd in the Great Hall at Memorial Union, shifted also to discussion of immigration policy.

Magnum noted his opinion on illegal immigrants differed from that of President George W. Bush. A guest-worker program, he said, is not the solution.

"What we need to do is we need to have employers in this country that are knowingly hiring illegal immigrants," he said. "There has to be swift and meaningful penalties."

Magnum's proposal involves a two-year period in which illegal immigrants could "stand and be counted." After that time, he said, it would be fair to "reach a conclusion that [the immigrants] are not here for lawful purposes, and at that time, they would become a felon."

Job one, he said, is protecting the borders.

In response to Magnum's accusation that she voted against seven separate proposals to strengthen America's boarders, Baldwin said "the author of most of those pieces of legislation … has made attempt after attempt to enact very punitive legislation, including going as far as penalizing assisting someone who might be undocumented."

Baldwin also cited church groups and food pantries that assist immigrants that would have been criminalized as a result of the legislation.

Another controversial issue addressed was the war in Iraq, about which Baldwin and Magnum sparred over their differing views.

Baldwin said she was proud to be one of the first members of Congress to announce her opposition to the war before it started.

"This war is making us less safe every day we're a part of it," she said. "And we need to bring it to a conclusion."

Magnum said he was concerned about Bush's failure to change cabinet members upon being reelected.

"I appreciate President Bush's trait of being loyal, but we need to bring in new eyes and new ears," he said.

Magnum's common theme throughout the debate was an emphasis on being moderate, as he cited Baldwin as consistently siding with Democrats while in Congress.

"If we could bring somebody in that's respected on both sides … that in and of itself would re-instill some confidence in the American people."

Magnum and Baldwin will debate again Oct. 15 in Tripp Commons at the Memorial Union. The Wisconsin Union Directorate Contemporary Issues committee will sponsor the next debate, which will focus on student issues and questions.