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Hampton students grill Rothfus with policy questions

| Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014, 11:51 a.m.
Republican U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, representing District 12, spoke to Cliff Stevenson’s AP Government and Politics class at Hampton High School on Dec. 18.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Republican U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, representing District 12, spoke to Cliff Stevenson’s AP Government and Politics class at Hampton High School on Dec. 18.

The students of Cliff Stevenson's Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics class did not go easy on U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-12) when he visited their class at Hampton High School.

The class of seniors grilled him on topics including the abortion issue, women's rights, marijuana and economic policy.

“Being an AP class, I think they have more interest in the policy questions, which I did encourage,” Stevenson said.

Rothfus, 52, of Sewickley, was re-elected for his second term in November. He visited Stevenson's AP class on Dec. 18 to talk about his position as a congressman representing the 12th District and opened the floor for questions from the class.

“High school was like yesterday to me,” Rothfus said. “I never thought I'd run for anything, but a local congressman visited my class in high school. That may have sparked my interest.”

Students asked questions that focused a lot on how and why Rothfus voted a certain way, and Rothfus answered personably to students.

He said the government-spending bill that passed through Congress in December was the toughest he ever has considered.

“The process is broken,” he said. “They're holding good and critical spending (hostage) to the bad and wasteful spending.”

Rothfus emphasized his office's role in directly serving constituents.

He said over the past two years, his office has resolved 1,000 cases ranging from Internal Revenue Service issues to passport and visa problems.

“It's hard to control what's going on in Washington,” Rothfus said. “I'm just one of 435 congressmen.

“But I can control what's going on in the district.”

Stevenson said his students enjoyed the visit. The congressman made a positive impression on the students, regardless of their political leanings, he said.

“He came across as fairly reasonable in his stances and not too ideological,” Stevenson said. “He had some practical answers to some of the questions.”

Stevenson said his students tend to be cynical about the government in action because of special-interest groups.

Rothfus represents all of Beaver County and parts of Allegheny, Lawrence, Westmoreland, Cambria and Somerset Counties.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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