Iowa’s third district congressional candidates met in a often times contentious debate last night in Belle Plaine. Republican Stan Thompson said Democrat Leonard Boswell has accomplished little in his eight years in Congress, and hasn’t gotten any bills through that bear his name partly because Republicans control the debate agenda. Thompson says the district would be better off with a Republican congressman who could move up the ranks of power. Thompson singled out Senators Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin as “difference makers” since they’ve both served as chairmen of Senate Committees. Boswell responded. Boswell said Grassley, when he served in the U.S. House, wasn’t able to get any bills passed with his name on them, either, because Democrats controlled the debate agenda then. Boswell says he’s proud of the work he’s done in Congress, and told Thompson he co-sponsored over 50 bills that have become law. One of last night’s testiest exchanges sounded a lot like the 1988 Vice Presidential debate, right after Boswell called Grassley one of the politicians he admires. Thompson went on the attack. “To borrow a line from another debate — Senator Grassley I know. He’s a friend of mine, and Congressman Boswell you’re no Senator Grassley,” Thompson said, reminiscent of the Lloyd Bentsen line against Dan Quayle in ’88 — when Bentsen said Quayle was no J.F.K. The crowd broke out in boos and applause. “I know where you got that,” Boswell told Thompson. “How many years somebody has waited to say that — you’re no Senator Grassley?” Boswell said. “And you know what? Stan, you aren’t either.” The crowd erupted again. The two major party candidates are in a rematch. Thompson, who is a Des Moines attorney, lost to Boswell in 2002. Boswell moved from his farm near Davis City to Des Moines to run in the newly-created Third Congressional District in 2002. Boswell was first elected to Congress in 1996 and is seeking his fifth term. Thompson has never held elected office.
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