(Cedar Rapids, IA) You have a wide contrast between the candidates running for the open seat vacated by Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) in Iowa’s 1st Congressional District. More than a contrast really, it’s more like a wide ideological chasm. In the first debate between State Representative Pat Murphy (D-Dubuque) and Dubque businessman Rod Blum (R) we saw a classic statism vs. constituionalism comparison.
Some observations from tonight’s debate:
- Murphy’s answer to “what was your greatest accomplishment in the Iowa House?” is telling. His answer 1. raising the state minimum wage, 2. adding LGBT as a protected class in Iowa’s Civil Rights code, and 3. Voting against giving Iowans a right to vote on the definition of marriage. This stood in stark contrast with Blum’s greatest accomplishment being a job creator.
- Murphy – raise minimum wage at the Federal level… Blum – let state’s decide this for themselves. Blum used an example of North Dakota. He said that McDonald’s offers a starting wage of $15.00/hour and Wal-Mart starts at $18.00/hour because North Dakota’s economy is booming. His message you want to help lift people out of poverty, improve the economy.
- Murphy said that you would help take people off of entitlements by raising minimum wage. Blum said more people would go on entitlements as a result of jobs lost.
- Obamacare – Murphy: tweak the website and the way states are reimbursed, etc. Blum acknowledged that Obamacare won’t be repealed while President Obama is in office so he work to make it “better” by removing some of the more harmful aspects of it.
- Social security: Quote to remember from Murphy: “I will not reform Social Security.” His answer was to try to have more people pay into it. Blum offered several items he’d be willing to discuss including raising the age if need be.
- Ebola: Blum wanted to restrict travel and keep treatment confined to West Africa. Murphy said he was concerned by the 10% cut that the CDC faced in their budget. He made a statement that literally made my jaw drop – “Less government may actually be a detriment when it comes to public health.”
- Immigration: Murphy – let the children come forth and be refugees… Blum – secure the border and then fix the broken system.
- Climate change: Murphy believes that it is a man-made problem that needs government intervention. Blum believes the verdict is out on the cause of Climate Change, and what will happen in the long-term. He said we need to try to be environmentally friendly, but not at the expense of jobs.
- Social issues (unless it was during a spot where the live stream was buffering on me) was not discussed. The only exception would be Murphy’s stated accomplishment in the Iowa Legislature.
- Foreign policy – both men would likely be reluctant to support boots on the ground in Iraq. Blum stated that President Obama’s foreign policy has caused our allies not to respect us and our enemies to no longer fear us.
There was a lot of red meat for liberals and conservatives alike. Neither men made a gaffe, certainly liberals will go ballistic over Blum’s answer on climate change, but his skepticism is relatively mainstream and it is not a primary issue in the race. This race is extremely competitive and I doubt this debate will be a game changer for either men. But we certainly had a lot of red meat for conservatives thrown and tofu for liberals.