During a radio debate Friday, the Republicans who’re running for Iowa’s first district congressional seat offered varying grades on the way President Bush has waged the war in Iraq. Brian Kennedy, a long-time Republican strategist who ran Governor Branstad’s 1994 re-election campaign, said he would have voted to go into Iraq, but Kennedy said the intelligence leading up the war as “bad” and other mistakes have been made.
“I think there’s a legitimate concern that there weren’t enough troops sent there,” Kennedy said. Kennedy said that’s why he proposes a bigger active duty army so there’s not as much reliance on part-time guard and reserve soldiers in the war on terror.
Mike Whalen, a businessman from the Quad Cities, also found flaws in the military’s strategy. Whalen said the “shock and awe” air assault may have won the initial battle in Iraq, but the military isn’t well designed for “nation building.” “I think that we have to remember that our democracy wasn’t something that we concocted overnight or in a few weeks or in a few years,” Whalen said.
Bill Dix, a Republican from Shell Rock, called establishing democracy in Iraq a “noble cause” and he offered no criticism of the way President Bush has conducted the war. “I’m standing with our president in this effort to secure our nation’s future,” Dix said. “I believe it’s the right thing to do.” Debate host K-U-N-I public radio then had the Democrats who’re running for the same congressional seat speak.
Bruce Braley, a lawyer from Waterloo, made a special pitch to workers who’re concerned about “outsourcing.” Braley said he’ll fight for “fair trade” laws which both protect American workers and prohibit the exploitation of foreign workers. “I’ll make the pledge to you on the radio right now: I will not accept a congressional pay raise until congress does something about (the federal) minimum wage,” Braley said.
Rick Dickinson, an economic development official from Sabula, said there are only “nuanced” differences between the candidates on issues. He argued that their main differences are in experience. At the age of 24, Dickinson was elected mayor of Sabula. “That’s where the bug bit me about the passion for public service and bringing people together for a common goal,” Dickinson said. Dickinson went on from there to become a county supervisor, then he served two terms in the Iowa House. For the past 10 years, he’s been director of the Greater Dubuque Development Corporation.
Bill Gluba, a real estate agent from Davenport, is launching his third bid to win a seat in congress. “I’m the Democrat who took on (Republican Congressman) Jim Nussle in the last congressional race when no one with any experience was willing to step forward,” Gluba said. Gluba served one term in the Iowa House and two terms in the Iowa Senate before serving as a Scott County Supervisor. “I can quite frankly say I am the most experienced politically experienced,” Gluba said.
Denny Heath, a Democrat from Clinton, ran for the first congressional district seat in 2004, too, and Heath stressed the need for tighter controls along the U.S./Mexico border to stop illegal immigration. “There are people who will make this a divisive issue, try to make it something ethnic which it is not,” Heath said. “We have people coming across the border who are felons, drug dealers.” He proposed bringing home many of the troops that are overseas to stand guard on the border, and Heath predicted the problem would be solved in just a few days.