The Five Seasons Republican Women of Cedar Rapids are hosting a Republican debate between Dubuque businessman Rod Blum and Independence attorney Ben Lange. The two are vying for the Republican nomination in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. The debate is being held at Kirkwood Community College and is co-sponsored by SourceMedia Group, the parent company of KCRG-TV9 and The Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Former State Representative Tami Wiencek will moderate the debate. In addition to being a former legislator, Wiencek was a news anchor for KWWL TV, which covers most of the newly reconfigured 1st Congressional District. Wiencek currently works for Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa. Organizers with the Five Seasons Republican Women said they sought Wiencek to moderate the debate because she’s a female Republican who has television experience. Not being from the district also meant that she was impartial.
Candidates being introduced.
Both candidates have a lot of loud supporters in the room.
Blum points out that Lange has notes. Asks if that’s allowed. Organizers say that most people use notes. Lange offers not to use his notes. Blum supporters encourage Blum to “wing it.”
1st Question: What makes you best prepared to take on Congressman Braley in the fall.
Lange: I’ve built the strongest team. Talks about having 200 county organizers. There is an opportunity to win this fall, and support a candidate that can win.
Blum: I’m not a career politician. Calls Braley a 57 year old career politician and attorney. Do we want to run a 32 year old lawyer against a 57 year old job creator.
Lange counters strong. Calls it fake contrasts.
This is going to be a lively debate.
Question 2: What will you do to encourage job growth and improve the economy?
Blum: Talks about the 70’s under Carter. Sites Reagan. Cut business taxes. We need to do what Ronald Reagan did. Reduce regulations. Repeal Obamacare, etc.
Lange: Politicians like to talk about corporate taxes, but most small businesses are LLC’s, which pay individual rates. Supports cutting corporate rates, but must cut individual taxes.
Question 3: Braley voted for Obamacare. Do you support repeal, and what would you replace it with?
Lange: I support repealing Obamacare, but we have to do more than just repeal it. We need to address the actual healthcare problem. Conservatives need to support patient based healthcare. Transparency with cost. Tort reform.
Blum: In regards to quality, US has the best in the world. We need to find a way to reduce the cost. Talks about only being able to get two bids for health insurance in his business. Give free market a chance. No incentive to save money in current system.
Question 4: Top education priorities?
Blum: Get the federal government out of education. Needs to be locally controlled.
Lange: Talks about his three little girls. We have a great education system in Iowa. Nobody care more than the parents. We need to have education policies come from local school boards, not the federal government. We need to encourage savings for college, not debt management.
Blum supports vouchers and charter schools.
Question 5: Bush and Obama criticized about taking getting involved in foreign conflicts.
Lange: We need to put forward a policy that supports democracy across the world. If no threat to America’s national security we need to be cautious.
Blum: US military needs to be the best and strongest in the world. I also believe in the constitution. Every war since WWII has been unconstitutional. We should not be involved in nation building. Should always require a vote by congress.
Lange: Bush got authority from Congress, Obama did not with Lybia. Said there was no threat to US from Lybia.
Question 6: What should our relationship with Israel be?
Blum: Supports Isreal. We don’t need to get involved militarily to support Israel, they can handle it themselves. Should the US go to war against every county that starts building a nuclear weapon.
Lange: Talks about recent trip there. Our foreign policy must also match with out ideals.
Blum: Nations that trade with other nations will not go to war with each other, we need to focus on trade.
Question 7: How should congress solve public debt issues?
Lange: We borrow $0.40 cents of every dollar we spend. Braley didn’t support balanced budget, but all of a sudden he does in an election year. Balanced budget amendment. Cap percentage of GDP, we need long term budget planning.
Blum: We are about to have another debate on raising debt ceiling in December. We are on the same track that Greece and Italy are on and look at what’s going on over there. Revenues up 20% since 2001. Spending up 100%. Repeal death tax, extend Bush tax cuts, supports constitutional amendment for balanced budget.
Lange: We need a new generation of leaders. National debt is the most critical issue in the country.
Question 8: Personal philosophy on the constitution.
Blum: Greatest document in the world besides the Bible.
Lange: We will see how the court rules on Obamacare in June. Every piece of legislation should have to site the constitution as to why the laws that they write are constitutional.
Question 9: Immigration reform?
Lange: We are all for immigration, just not illegal immigration. We need to secure the boarder. We can’t fix the problem until the boarder is secured. We need to shut off the magnet.
Blum: Heart goes out to those people who want to work to support their family, but it has to be legal. Build the fence. We need to turn off the magnet, jobs. Talking about Marshalltown, said local teacher there said class is 80% hispanic, 40% here illegally. Will not give them welfare benefits.
Question 10: Partisanship getting worse with each election. Do you intend to work will all members of congress, what step will you take to work with Democrats.
Blum: Will not compromise my principles, but says he will support things that move the ball towards his goalline.
Lange: Most voters in 1st District are no party voters. We will not compromise principles. When the election is over we are all Iowans. We need to work together to abide by our principles to lower the national debt.
Blum: Leery of bi-partisan legislation
Question 11: Type of public service you want to be.
Lange: Debate prep consisted of changing crib sheets. I’m just an average guy, there is nothing special about be.
Blum: I can make the tough decision. Stand up to DC, will even stand up to Republican leadership if necessary.
Lange: I’ll outwork Bruce Braley.
Blum: I have 20,000 miles on the constitution van. People are upset. Frustrated. We are at a tipping point. If we do the same thing today as we did yesterday and we expect change, that’s insanity. I’ll take the average American salary. I’m term limiting myself. We need a different kind of candidate.
Lange: This is important. Not a lot of differences when it comes to policy, so it comes down to who can win in November. I’ve build a wide coalition of people around the district.
On substance, I think Blum offered more specifics, while Lange focused more on his ability to win in November.
On style, I think Lange came off as more likable, while Blum seemed a bit angry at times.
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