As she did in their first two debates, congressional hopeful Christie Vilsack continued her seemingly desperate method of attacking Steve King at every opportunity. During their hour-long debate in Hampton on Tuesday, Vilsack included a criticism of King every single time she spoke. The conservative congressman kept a running total of what he called her “baseless attacks”, which totaled around two dozen.
“I thought Mr. King did a fabulous job of explaining himself and his positions,” said Hampton native Kent Craighton. “I don’t think she offered anything. I found it interesting that she thinks you just go into a room and come up with a balanced budget. I don’t think she has any clue how Congress works.”
The crowd of around 200 attendees at the Windsor Theatre in Hampton was split fairly evenly in their support. That was by design. There were few, if any, undecided voters in the crowd. The event was sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.
“Well, our point was to make sure that the candidates had a forum to talk about their ideas and their concept in a way that the audience would listen,” said chamber director Brook Boehmier. “In Franklin County, we want to hear what’s going on. Some people may think we’re a Republican county, but Obama carried the county four years ago.” The GOP holds the voter registration edge in Franklin County, 3,107-1,242.
Unlike the first debate, Mrs. Vilsack avoided calling King a “bully” and an “embarrassment”, but she once again blamed him for everything from the deficit, the debt, the lack of immigration reform, the stalled farm bill and the Iowa Hawkeyes struggles in their passing game. OK, not the last one.
When the former first lady accused him of not being a leader for the renewable fuels industry, King reminded her that, despite her husband being the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, the renewable fuels industry has come out solidly in support of Congressman King’s reelection.
“I am grateful for the compliment that she’s given me that a person in Congress should be the champion of renewable energy,” King replied. “How about the wind energy championship that was awarded to me by the American Wind Energy Association? They know what they’re doing. How about the support of the ethanol industry? They know what they’re doing. How about the support from Farm Bureau, as a Friend of Agriculture? They know what they’re doing.”
King later added that Vilsack was insulting the renewable fuels industry by implying they don’t know what they’re doing. When they were debating the farm bill, King said he has been working for a long time to get the bill passed and political games are stalling it. He also landed a nice jab at Vilsack’s husband. “We’re working to get this done and I think you know who’s taking leadership on it and it’s not the USDA,” King said.
One of the more interesting moments of the debate came during the discussion of Voter ID. Vilsack said she is in favor of making sure everyone has a chance to vote and there “isn’t any evidence of a great deal of voter fraud”. That is despite one of her fellow Democrat congressional hopefuls dropping out of the race in Maryland last week after it was discovered she voted in two different states in 2006 and 2008. Vilsack’s statements drew a strong rebuke from Congressman King.
“I don’t agree. I completely don’t agree,” he said. “I think they need to be citizens of the United States of America in order to have the right to vote…I’ve testified in the United States Congress on voter fraud. It is not a gimmick. It is not a story. It is real and it is affecting the destiny of this country and it’s got to stop and Matt Schultz has got the right plan. We need picture ID in Iowa.”
King used his closing remarks to remind Mrs. Vilsack that the 5th Congressional District, which he currently represents, has reelected him by a wider margin each time he has run.
“The people that know me best support me the strongest,” Congressman King said.
“I thought it was great,” said an elderly Hampton resident named Laverne, who did not want to provide his last name. “I think Congressman King won because he knows what he’s doing. He explained everything. She didn’t explain any of her stances and she just kept attacking him. I don’t like that. It’s unbecoming.”
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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