As election day approached, Congressionalcandidates Peter Welch and Martha Rainville faced off in a debate at the Billings Student Center at the University of Vermont in front of an intimate group of 32 people.The first issue at the debate, held on Oct. 24, was the Iraq War, wherein Rainville said that thinking to the past was “only politics,” but also said that, “we shouldbring the troops home with honor, but only once all objectives have been completed.”Welch also addressed the Iraq War. “We need to bring the troops home now,” Welch said. “It’s not our troops’ job to referee a civil war.”Other important issues to both candidates during the debate were fiscal matters.”We cannot have tax cuts for the very wealthy people on borrowed money,” Welch said.The debate offered a display of the differences between the candidates, but it also gave viewers an opportunity to seesome of the similarities between the candidates’ positions on certain issues, like the change of leadership in Congress.Throughout the debate, Welch advocated strongly for a change of leadership.”Things this Congress is doing are unconscionable,” Welch said.Rainville agreed that new leadership was needed. “We need a new direction and a newtype of leadership,” she said. Rainville also made sharp comments on Welch’s personal background. “We don’t needpeople with experience in going around therules…[Vermont] can choose to vote for a trial attorney and politician or for someone who built a career as a citizen soldier,” she said.Welch disagreed with Rainville’s opinion and said that, “our experiences are different. I can get the job done ina bipartisan way.” The environmental future of the country, an important issue for Vermont, came uplater in the debate. Welch came out strongly for environmental issues and said that the United States needed to doublethe mileage standards for automobiles and have incentives for alternative energy.Welch and Rainville’s Congressional race is important to many in a larger context.It is a race that could decide the direction and makeup of the U.S. House ofRepresentatives. Currently, Welch has a 10-point lead on Rainville, according to a poll by WCAX-TV.A win by Welch would aid the Democrats in gaining control of the House of Representatives after 12 years without leadership.In closing, Rainville said, “I’m not George Bush. I’m Martha Rainville!” Welch closed by reiterating an earlier point. “I believe we need a new direction,” he said.