HELENA — To give voters a look into the minds of the three Republican U.S. House candidates, the Gazette State Bureau asked each five specific questions, on health care, the economy, the federal budget and abortion.

The candidates — Helena engineer and author Eric Brosten, Bozeman business executive Steve Daines and U.S. Marine Corps veteran and student Vincent Melkus of Hardin — are vying for the GOP nomination for Montana's only House seat.

The winner of the June 5 primary election, just four weeks away, will take on the winner of a seven-way Democratic primary and Libertarian David Kaiser of Victor in the November general election.

Daines is the prohibitive favorite in the Republican primary. He has been campaigning for almost 18 months and his opponents are political newcomers with minimal campaigns.

We posed separate sets of questions to the Democratic and Republican candidates. Questions for the Republican candidates were chosen to perhaps show differences that might matter to those voting in the Republican primary as well as to the general public.

We also tried to ask questions that wouldn't get a predictable answer, and tried to get to the reasoning behind the answer.

We asked each candidate to answer all five questions in 300 total words or fewer. If a candidate went well over the limit, we edited for length while trying to preserve the essence of what was said.

The answers that appear are the candidate's own words. Some candidates answer the questions directly and succinctly; some do not.

We'll have more coverage of this key race as the June 5 primary election nears. We hope this Q-and-A format offers a good initial platform of information on which to judge and choose the candidates.