The first three debates between Iowa Congressman Steve King and challenger Christie Vilsack were almost mirror images of each other. Vilsack continuously criticized King, while he focused on discussing the issues. The fourth debate, held Thursday night in Orange City, was much like the previous three in regards to Vilsack’s attacks.
However, this time Congressman King parried Vilsack’s attacks by using her own statements against her. At one point, he said Vilsack was “partially informed”. Also for the first time, the candidates were asked about their stances on gay marriage and abortion.
Christie Vilsack has tried her best to avoid social issues, since her pro-gay marriage and pro-choice stances are out of sync with most of the voters in Iowa’s new fourth congressional district. However, she could not avoid the topic on live television during a debate in Iowa’s most conservative area, Sioux County. Vilsack did try to soften her stance as much as possible.
“I am pro-choice,” Vilsack admitted. “I think abortion should be safe, legal and rare.”
The congressional challenger then tried to change the topic at the end of her answer by demanding Congressman King express his views on contraception. King did not take the bait. Instead, he hammered Vilsack and President Obama.
“Unlike my opponent and unlike the president, I know when life begins. It begins at the moment of conception,” King said. “When President Obama said this issue was above his pay scale…I was appalled.”
King also took his opponent to task on sex-selective abortions. Back in June, Vilsack was asked about the practice during an episode of “Iowa Press”. She claimed Iowans were not talking about it and she did not consider it an important issue. Sex-selective abortions, usually targeting female fetuses, are prominent in China and they are increasing in the U.S.
“She said Iowans don’t care. I think Iowans do care and I think it matters to those girls who were aborted because they weren’t a boy,” King said.
Regarding same-sex marriage, the former First Lady of Iowa said, “I think when two people love each other, they should be allowed to marry…regardless of gender.”
Congressman King disagreed and said history has shown the best way to raise children is through holy matrimony of one man, one woman. He added that the issue should be decided by the people, not the courts, as was done in Iowa.
As she has done in previous debates, Christie Vilsack accused Congressman King of being responsible for the nation’s deficit, debt, lack of Farm Bill and for not being a champion of wind energy and renewable fuels. King laughed off the claim, thanking Vilsack for believing he’s more powerful than President Obama and Nancy Pelosi combined. King also reminded Vilsack that Iowa’s Fifth Congressional district, which he currently represents, is number one in the nation for renewable fuels and industry groups have overwhelmingly endorsed his candidacy.
On immigration, Mrs. Vilsack said she supports “a path to citizenship”. Congressman King pounced on that statement.
“We cannot be a country with an eroded rule of law. I am for the rule of law. Mrs. Vilsack is for amnesty,” King said.
Three polls released on Thursday show interesting numbers regarding this hotly contested race. Two left-leaning pollsters show Vilsack gaining ground on King. Public Policy Polling puts the race at King 48%-Vilsack 45%. A poll commissioned by Vilsack’s campaign claims the race is even closer, at 46%-44%. Another poll, commissioned by the conservative American Future Fund, shows Congressman King maintaining a 48%-41% advantage.
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