WEST JORDAN -- Rep. Jim Matheson's main argument against his GOP opponent Mia Love is that she is an extremist who is out of touch with what the majority of Utahns want to see happen in Congress.
Love used that same argument about the six-term Democratic congressman on Monday, arguing that his votes have aided President Barack Obama and the Democrats' agenda in D.C. instead of putting Utah above his party.
"We can't give Jim Matheson another term in office because we simply can't afford it," Love said, speaking at her campaign headquarters. "He is not who he used to be."
Love stated that since Obama took office, Matheson has voted to increase the nation's debt limit four times, voted for the $787 billion stimulus plan and increased each citizen's portion of the national debt by $20,000.
Congress, including many Republicans, also voted to raise the debt ceiling and for the stimulus.
Love argued that any one of those items is enough to show that Matheson is not looking to be independent of his party or the president. Another term of Matheson will mean a Utah vote will go toward supporting the Democrats and their agenda, she added.
"He has not been a check and balance to Barack Obama," Love said.
Matheson argued that his record speaks for itself in that it shows he is fiscally responsible in his votes and that he is trying to vote for what he thinks is best for Utah.
"I voted for Jason Chaffetz's cut, cap and balance bill. I voted to cut spending on specific spending bills throughout my career. I voted for every balanced budget amendment that has come before Congress. I think that is critical," Matheson said. "I even voted for Paul Ryan's line item veto bill."
Matheson stated that anytime he voted for raising the debt ceiling in the past it has been coupled with measures to truly cut spending. He also defended his vote for the stimulus bill, noting that the recession was hitting Americans so hard he felt it was best to return tax dollars to individuals' pockets.
As far as Matheson's support for Obama, Love claimed that Matheson will vote for Obama in the November election -- she says that also shows Matheson is not in step with the pro-Romney majority in Utah.
However, Matheson would not say if he was voting for Obama. Rather, he stated that the race in the 4th district should be about him and Love and not about the presidential candidates.
"When it comes to voting in the 4th congressional race, the people will be choosing between me and my opponent. There is a presidential race on the ballot and there is a congressional race on the ballot," Matheson said. "I am not Barack Obama and my opponent is not Mitt Romney."
Without disclosing who he will vote for, Matheson did say he would be the first to reach across the aisle to help Romney if he were elected. Matheson said that Romney would need statesman-like legislators in Washington for his policies to succeed and that he would look forward to being one of those statesmen. He said he isn't confident Love is up to that job.
"She wants to get rid of student loans; Mitt Romney and I don't. She wants to eliminate the department of energy; Mitt Romney and I don't. She wants to take away foreign military aid to Israel; Mitt Romney and I don't. She wants to get rid of the department of education; Mitt Romney and I don't," Matheson said. "There is issue after issue after issue where I think I take a mainstream view that is not about Democrat or Republican, it is about doing the right thing and ultimately I think the people in Utah know that about me."
Matheson also has criticized Love for proposing dramatic changes to the federal budget. Earlier this year Love distributed a plan to Republican delegates in the 4th congressional district stating she would look to cut the earned income tax credit and federal student loan programs to help decrease federal spending. Matheson argues those types of cuts will hurt Utahns and that Love's plans are dangerous to Utah's future.
Love has backed off on that plan, saying it is a starting point for discussions. She argued that at least she is putting out a plan to look at making major cuts to the budget while Matheson has yet to release any such plan.