February 10, 2016

Six Republicans seeking U.S. Senate nomination meet in Council Bluffs

Six candidates who’re competing for the Iowa Republican Party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate met tonight in a 90-minute debate in Council Bluffs. It marked the first time retired business executive Mark Jacobs joined the field in that kind of a forum and Jacobs stood out from his competitors when Jacobs said he would have voted for the recent federal budget deal, although he would have sought some changes in it.

“My entire career in the business world has been working with people who had different points of view and figuring out how you bring people together and get things done,” Jacobs said. “…We have to have the right principles, but we also have to have leaders who are able to take those principles and build coalitions and turn those into concrete results.”

Joni Ernst, a state senator and Iowa National Guard soldier, said she would have opposed the budget deal, partly because it reduced military pensions.

“I do believe in working together towards a balanced budget, but as a veteran I will not do it by balancing our budget on the backs of veterans,” Ernst said.

Sam Clovis, a retired soldier who’s taken a sabbatical from his job as a Morningside College professor, said he would not have voted for the two-year budget deal either.

“This is the very problem that we face in Washington, D.C. as we continue to kick the can down the road because we lack leadership,” Clovis said. “We lack leadership on both sides of the aisle, frankly.”

Matt Whitaker, a lawyer who is a former federal prosecutor, would have been a “no” vote, too.

“I would support a budget that makes the tough choices,” Whitaker said. “…I would support a budget that brings fundamental tax reform. You know the tax code has five times the words of the Bible and none of the ‘Good News.'”

Scott Schaben, a former soldier and car salesman, argued the G-O-P must do more to reach out to new blocks of voters, especially “millennials.”

“We have to choose our rhetoric wisely,” Schaben said. “Our competition loves to paint as the party of old, rich, white people out of touch with women and minorities.”

Paul Lunde, a lawyer from Ames, also participated in the debate, arguing the U.S. constitution should be “modernized” with amendments that make Social Security and Medicare permanent.

The event was organized by Pottawattamie County Republicans and broadcast live on WHO and KMA radio stations.

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