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Candidates tackle NAS' future in local appearance

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
May 19, 2002
The future of Naval Air Station Meridian, Lauderdale County's largest employer, was among the issues that bubbled to the surface Saturday as U.S. Reps. Chip Pickering and Ronnie Shows jousted in the beginning stages of a fierce race for Congress.
One of the two incumbents will be elected in November to represent Mississippi's redrawn 3rd Congressional District.
Pickering, R-Miss., said he feels "very confident" about NAS-Meridian's future.
But Shows, D-Miss., said Pickering could have helped prevent a future base closing in Meridian by supporting a move to take base closure-related legislation out of a defense authorization bill so Congress could debate it separately.
Pickering said the bill would have done nothing to help prevent base closures. Shows disagreed, saying, "His and my opinion is completely different about that, because I think it does. I think he's way off to say that it doesn't."
The two debated the future of NAS Meridian and other issues during a live talk show on local radio station WNBN, hosted by Harrison Lewis.
Shows and Pickering sat in front of two microphones in WNBN's crowded mobile home studio on 23rd Street and exchanged views for nearly two hours. Both fielded questions from Lewis and local callers.
Pickering said the debate was just the beginning of the race.
Shows agreed.

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