Two of the three candidates for governor clashed over the topic of party loyalty during a forum late this afternoon in Cedar Rapids.
During the debate sponsored by the Iowa Broadcast News Association, each was asked whether they’d back the party’s nominee if they lose. Bob Vander Plaats, a Sioux City business consultant, suggested competitor Terry Branstad — the former governor — wasn’t always a “team player” when it came to supporting Republicans.
“I believe Governor Branstad, you did endorse Ben Nelson who helped give us socialized medicine when you skipped the river into Nebraska,” Vander Plaats said, referring to Branstad’s 2000 endorsement of Ben Nelson, a Democratic senator from Nebraska who voted for health care reform this spring.”
Branstad bristled and jumped in to interrupt. “(Nelson’s) a long-time friend and I was out of office at the time,” Branstad said, charging Vander Plaats had veered away from the subject of the question.
Vander Plaats replied: “This is the on the subject… it’s about it being a team player.”
The other candidate, Representative Rod Roberts, stayed out of that exchange, but later suggested it was time to move on rather than return Branstad to the governor’s office. “Iowans are going to bring about change in 2010,” Roberts said. “Chet Culver has failed this state and the people of Iowa want a new governor.”
Branstad often presented his four-terms as governor as an advantage and Branstad also took a shot at the Democrat who is seeking a second term in his closing statement. “Iowans are genuinely fearful and concerned about Governor Culver’s reckless and irresponsible actions,” Branstad said.
After the debate was over, Branstad loudly scolded rival Vander Plaats for a misstatement during the debate, telling Vander Plaats to “look it up” to see that he was wrong.