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September 7th, 2012

Vilsack Relentlessly Attacks, Fails with Facts in First Debate

Christie Vilsack is shredding her image of the nice, pleasant former First Lady of Iowa and the congressional hopeful seems perfectly fine with that. Throughout her first debate with Congressman Steve King, the normally mild-mannered Vilsack sounded like a well-seasoned Democrat attack machine.

Just minutes into the debate, she called King “a bully” and “an embarrassment to the people of Iowa”. King admitted during the debate that he was taken aback by Vilsack’s negative tone. Afterwards, the Fifth District Congressman said he came prepared to talk policy, not counter attacks from the hardcore left.

“I didn’t get around to rebutting that, didn’t see the need to do so,” King said afterwards. “There’s probably not a name that she’s called me that you can’t find on a left wing website. I think that’s where the debate preparation came from is the left wing websites.”

The debate aired live Thursday evening on WHO radio. Newscaster Gary Barrett served as the moderator. Barrett was also surprised how quickly Vilsack went negative.

“I think Christie Vilsack wanted to show that she wasn’t just another nice woman or another nice candidate up against Steve King and it gave her the forum to do that,” Barrett said. “I don’t think that she answered some of the questions as well as I would have liked, especially when we started talking about Obamacare. Her answers were a little bit too short and too general. She wanted to pin Congressman King down to specifics but her answers were a lot more generic.”

Some of Vilsack’s attacks are easily proven false. Others reach beyond the realm of reality. For instance, Iowa’s former first lady has repeatedly criticized Congressman King for not balancing the federal budget. There are 535 members of Congress. To blame the lack of a balanced budget on one U.S. House member is completely baseless. The more likely culprit can be found within the Democratic Party.

“This balance that we’re looking at right now, $16 trillion, this is Barack Obama’s. Over $5 trillion of that added on his watch in three-plus years,” King responded.

Congressman King is a supporter of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which Vilsack calls “a gimmick”. The State of Iowa, which Vilsack’s husband governed for eight years, has a balanced budget amendment. King also noted that the Democrat-led U.S. Senate has not passed a budget in more than 1,200 days. The congressman says he can point to 10 votes he has made that would have saved the country more than $17 trillion.

“If the rest of Congress had followed my lead, we not only would have a balanced budget for multiple years in a row, we would have paid off our national debt,” King said.

Vilsack also claimed the State of Oregon is saving $4 trillion by creating a healthcare cooperative. Last month on “Iowa Press” she claimed the number was $1 trillion. Oregon’s state budget is $38 billion. If they did not spend a dime on anything for the next 105 years, then they would save $4 trillion.

Since Congressman King supports the Fair Tax, Vilsack has also decided to attack him on that issue. However, Vilsack’s own statements reveal she is woefully ignorant on the issue.

“He’s one of the nation’s leading advocates for the so-called Fair Tax, which would basically tax us by 23%,” Vilsack said during the debate. “That is going to be devastating to middle class families who will be paying more at the grocery store, paying more for medications, paying a dollar more for a gallon of milk when they go to the grocery store.”

A key element of the Fair Tax is the prebate. In fact, it would likely have few supporters without the prebate. Basically, the prebate provides all U.S. residents with a monthly stipend equivalent to the tax they would pay on goods and essentials. Using 2010 calculations, a family of four would receive $559 every month from the prebate, totaling $6,702 annually.

Vilsack criticized the Fair Tax during Thursday’s debate and last month during her speech at the Iowa State Fair soapbox. Both times, she failed to mention the prebate. found out why she left out this important element. During the post-debate news conference, Vilsack admitted, “No, I don’t know what the prebate is.

In fact, Vilsack conveniently omits all of the positive aspects the Fair Tax. Along with not knowing what the prebate is, Vilsack never mentions the Fair Tax replaces federal income taxes including personal, estate, gift, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes.

It is obvious Christie Vilsack knows just enough about the Fair Tax to criticize Steve King, and that is all that matters. This is exactly the kind of politics that Vilsack claims she is against. Early in the debate, Vilsack said she is not a “partisan warrior”, but Thursday’s debate proved partisan, distorted politics is how she will run her campaign.

Overall, the Vilsack campaign probably feels a little better about Thursday’s debate than the King campaign. The congressman was clearly not expecting the onslaught of negativity Vilsack launched.

“I think he came prepared to talk, probably to be a little more wonky and that’s what I really think took him by surprise,” moderator Gary Barrett said.

There are at least six more debates scheduled between the fourth congressional district hopefuls. The next one takes place Saturday at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Spencer. Congressman King continues to push for a Lincoln/ Douglas-style debate, but the Vilsack campaign refuses. A debate originally scheduled to take place in Ames was cancelled because Vilsack refused the Lincoln/Douglas format.

About the Author

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor’s office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad’s 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for

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