Final thoughts:  First.  I hated, hated the format of the debate.  It was ok up until the break, after that it seemed to be that Kevin Cooney wanted ask questions for each individual candidate based on Democratic talking points.  The last question was simply ridiculous.  I would have said perhaps that is important question in a Democratic primary debate.  Second… nobody really stood out except Grandanette, but that was in a negative way.

Anyway I know this debate did not help me towards a decision, and I would say there are probably others who feel the same way.

7:56p – Who doesn’t pay enough taxes?  Really, this is a question?

7:55p – Individual questions… Shaw asked about Tea Party – we need to reach out to all branches…etc.  Couldn’t keep up with the rest.  Nothing earth shattering.

7:52p – Raise federal gas excise tax – Cramer only if it is off-set.  Zaun – no, Young – no.

7:51p – Reaction to Staci Appel’s support of “reproductive rights.”  Grandanette – Staci Appel is the most liberal person on the face of the earth.  I am prolife.  I will fight for the unborn child… right to life from conception to natural death.  Cramer – I am for life from conception to natural death.  We need to show support for the mother… supports Ruth Harbor, he is a foster care parent.  We really need people to value life.  Schultz – I am pro-life.  We have five children, and lost one due to a miscarriage.  Wants to protect life from conception to natural death.  Kept Dr. Carhartt out of Council Bluffs while on the city council.

7:48p – Is Washington broken?  Young – I don’t want to blow up the government, but I do want to take a stick and whack it.  Shaw – I have a real track record on bringing people together.  Can’t just vote no while our economy is going off a cliff.  Zaun – I support term limits.  Send people who will make decisions based on what is right, not on reelection.

7:43p – Cramer on why he won’t introduce a social issues bill.  This election is about jobs, but based on my history Iowans should know that I stand on socially conservative principles.

7:42p – Schultz said he cut 200,000 from his annual budget in Secretary of State office.  Combined two deputy positions… addressing Jim Gibbons receiving $80,000 after his position was eliminated.

7:41p – Grandanette – education decisions are best made at the local and state level.  Federally mandated programs help the poorer students in our classes (free and reduced lunches, etc.).

7:40p – Zaun won’t support the legalization of the recreational use of drugs.  He defended his vote in favor of marijuana oil for medical use.

7:39p – I totally missed the question asked of David Young, my bad.  He did take a ding a Obama’s foreign policy.

7:37p – Shaw says unemployment benefits/welfare need to be reformed as it doesn’t motivate people to go back to work.

7:36p – Schultz asked about money spent on voter fraud investigations.  He said absolutely we’ve spent 6 cents per vote protected.

7:35p – Grandanette asked about federal role in marriage.  He points out that judges have been the ones making these decisions, not elected representatives.

7:34p – Zaun carried in the Iowa State Capitol because of the Giffords shooting in Arizona.  It is my right to carry.  Which did not violate capitol rules by the way.

7:33p – Young asked about his experience… seen as just a career bureaucrat.  “As a person of faith I’ve learned that you don’t have to sell your soul to get things done.”

7:32p – Shaw answers question re. Federal role in environment.  “When government gets involved they tend to screw things up.”

7:29p – Question addressed to Cramer, how do you win over moderates & independents since he was passed over for Board of Regents due to his marriage views.  Cramer said Iowans looking back would say that wasn’t fair, and we should be putting people into office based on their qualifications.

7:27p – Commercial break

7:27p – Entitlement spending.  Schultz we need to rework social security and medicare.  Cramer must keep promises, but have to address programs or they will go bankrupt.  Shaw – keep promises, deal with programs – block grant to states.  Young – echoes… but said we should also asset test.  Zaun – We have to have a conversation with young people with what their investment looks like.  Can’t keep going down the road.  Keep promises.  Grandanette – three tier system.  Young people don’t pay in, don’t get it.  Over 37 you stay in… etc.

7:21p: An Iowa pork program that shouldn’t be built?  Grandanette – shouldn’t bailout homeowners who build in flood zones, etc.  Schultz touts balanced budget plan.  Cramer – politicians shouldn’t decide where money goes.  We need to have processes and formulas, etc that deterimines.  Shaw disagrees with Cramer – this needs to be addressed, but we shouldn’t hand off to unelected bureaucrats.  Iowa has done a good job dealing with state-level pork.  Young – Rainforest.  I won’t raid taxpayer money for projects.  Zaun also cites the rainforest project.  If you want somebody to bring pork home, don’t vote for me.

7:17p: ObamaCare – Zaun says it needs to be repealed, but does support the provision for pre-existing conditions.  – Obamacare didn’t solve anyone’s problems, still have a bunch of uninsured.  Schultz – needs to be repealed and replaced, free market principles – buy across state lines, etc..  Cramer – it is an example of everything that is wrong with government – too much control, too many taxes, and replace with tort reform, buy across state lines, etc.  Shaw – echoes what has been said.  Says it is time to hold Staci Appel accountable on where she stands.  Young – need to get rid of it.  He has been appalled at how the President tries to change the law without Congress.

7:12p: Role of U.S. in the world.  Young cites Washington Post editorial that said that President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.  Peace through strength.  Zaun also cites Reagan, but said we should address foreign bases.  Grandanette proud of being American, proud that we have a strong military.  Schultz cites 9/11, but said it is time to bring our troops role.  Congress has to be an active role.  They should declare war before we send troops overseas.  Cramer I want to have a strong military so we don’t have to use. it.  Energy policy – decrease dependence on foreign oil.  Shaw – we have to be very judicious in how we use military.  We need to stand tall with our troops.

7:07p: Gun control: Shaw – recent shootings are not the result of loose gun control, but other reasons (mental illness, etc.).  Young – tired of hearing about tragedies, but is a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment.  Process of keeping people from having a gun should be adjudicated, not decided “willy nilly.”  Zaun – I am not going to be supporting gun control.  We need to support mental health services.  Grandanette – this is not a gun issue, this is a mental health issue.  Gun-free zones do not work in schools.  Schultz – It would break my heart to lose somebody I love in a (shooting), but we must protect the 2nd Amendment.  Address the problem – mental illness.  Cramer – even before their was a Constitution we had an unalienable right to defend ourselves.

7:01p: Government shutdown: Cramer – government shutdown happened after Republicans offered a full budget, but wanted a delay in individual mandate and Congress to have to live under the rules of Obamacare.  Obama shut it down.  Shaw – There really wasn’t a government shutdown.  Should have gone after spending instead of Obamacare.  Young – it cost us more to shut the government down than to let it run.  If we follow the law we shouldn’t have government shutdowns.  Zaun – upset about vets being blocked from their memorials.  We need to have a discussion about what is “essential” as so many “non-essential” employees didn’t go to work.  Grandanette – shut it down.  Schultz – we wouldn’t be talking about this if we had a balanced budget amendment.  The government shutdown was just kicking the can down the road.  Implement penny plan.  Cut one penny from every dollar we spend.

6:55p: Farmer subsidies: Schultz – problem with Farm Bill is that 80% of it went to food stamps.  Cramer – Government provides the role of providing a floor.  Get rid of subsidies, but provide a floor.  Shaw – Farmers would rather have market-driven solutions.  Obama is hurting farmers with tearing apart the renewable fuel standard.  Young – help actual farmers.  Zaun – I supported RFS resolution in Iowa Senate.

6:51p: Ag/Enivornmental concerns:  Grandanette get rid of EPA, let farmers do what they do.  Schultz also get rid of EPA, and leave regulations to the state, let farmers do what they do best.  Cramer said farmers are concerned about topsoil.  EPA regulations impact a variety of businesses.  Seconds other candidates.  Shaw: I’m the only one who grew up on a farm.  Young: Any of us here are going to be strong supporters of agriculture.  EPA is out of touch.  Zaun disputes Shaw’s claim as he grew up on a small farm growing up as well.  He wants farmers to make decisions on the state level.

6:47p: Grandanette against minimum wage.  Schultz believes states should determine the minimum wage.  Cramer this is an example of a government doesn’t understand how to create jobs.  Shaw also speaks out against one-size-fits-all approach.  States should decide.  He said this is a way to distract from their horrible record.  Young, says that if minimum wage goes through it needs to be tied to tax breaks for small businesses.

6:44p: Discussing minimum wage.  Zaun wants living wage, but accomplished through economic pro-growth policies.

6:42p: Shaw disagreed with premise of question that Congressional freshman can’t accomplish anything.  He touts similar priorities as the rest.

6:41p: Cramer take the foundation that Tom Latham has built.  A five year plan to balance budget, and deal with uncertainty in the economy, deal with regulations.

6:40p – Schultz – we can not continue to spend the way we are.  Fight for a balanced budget amendment, and pass the penny plan.

6:39p – Grandanette – tackle spending, Obamacare.

6:38p – Zaun – tackle spending… non-negotiables – elderly, disabled & vets.

6:37p – Top two issues: Young – National debt and economy.  I know the tools of oversight.

6:36p – Matt Schultz discusses debt.  Robert Cramer gives standard “I want to build a bridge between reality and Washington, DC.” line.

6:35p – Grandanette gives most creepy opening statement ever… “I want to get into your soul…. I’m Mr. G, vote for me.”

6:33p – David Young touts Grassley connection.  Brad Zaun – we need to send people to Washington, DC who does not make decisions based on re-election.  First time I’ve seen Joe Grandanette in a suit.

6:32p: Shaw says he can take the heat in a targeted congressional district race.

6:31p: Opening statements, Monte Shaw starts off.

6:25p – Hi welcome!  This is a hotly contested race, and this debate will help candidates race their name recognition.  A Loras College poll released last week that Brad Zaun is leading the back at 17.4% ahead of Robert Cramer by 9 points.  The number here to consider though is that 50.3% of Iowa 3rd Congressional District Republicans are still undecided.  Zaun is still way below the 35% threshold in order to avoid a convention decision.

However it seems as though social conservative voters, in particular, evangelicals are rallying around Robert Cramer as he touted a number of endorsements from faith-based leaders today.

Original: I am going to live blog the Iowa 3rd Congressional District Race debate between Robert Cramer, Joe Grandanette, Matt Schultz, Monte Shaw, and Brad Zaun  hosted by KCCI TV 8 tonight at 6:30p (CDT).  You can watch it on channel 8 if you are in the viewing area, on their website, or on their mobile app.  Be sure to refresh your browser for updates and the most recent update will be at the top.  I’ll get started shortly before 6:30p.

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