The verbal jousting was sharp tonight as the two major party candidates for governor met in their third debate of the campaign season.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle repeatedly questioned whether his Democrat rival, Chet Culver, was chief executive material. Nussle ridiculed Culver’s record as Secretary of State, especially Culver’s delay in declaring Iowa in President Bush’s column in the 2004 election. Nussle suggested the office was so insignificant it should be abolished. Nussle also suggested Culver’s political success was due in large part to his famous last name. Culver is the son of John Culver, a Democrat who served in the U.S. House and Senate from 1965 to 1980.
Culver countered by attacking Nussle’s record as a Republican member of Congress. Culver criticized the federal budget deficit accumulated during Nussle’s tenure as chairman of the House Budget Committee. The candidates also had an opportunity to ask one another questions. Culver used his first turn to say he didn’t want to talk about the “negative aspects” of the campaign. Instead, Culver asked Nussle to tell voters something they might not know about him. Nussle replied that Culver should have come up with a “more profound question” than that.
In closing statements, Culver again touted his “Iowa experience” for the past 20 years in contrast to Nussle’s 16 years as a congressman. Nussle’s comeback: pointing out that Culver was raised in Washington, D.C. because he was born when his father was in congress.