The two Republicans who are competing for the chance to challenge Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley debated tonight in Waverly, offering starkly different views of the war in Afghanistan.

Candidate Will Johnson of Dubuque, a Navy veteran, argued the Afghan war is unconstitutional and he’d vote to close many of the U.S. military bases that are overseas.  “As the Tea Party constitutional candidate, I know that winning’s important,” Johnson said. “But principle is even more important.”

Candidate Ben Lange of Independence said he “fundamentally disagrees” with Johnson on the Afghan war. “If you want a candidate who believes in an ostrich foreign policy, then vote for my opponent,” Lange said.  “But if you want a candidate who has learned the lessons of 9/11 and refuses to stick our heads in the sand and hope for a better tomorrow, then vote for me.” 

While the Afghan war was a point of contention between the two men, both candidates lobbed most of their criticism at Congressman Braley. Lange said he’d be a “conservative alternative” to Braley. “On every single major vote, Bruce Braley has cast his lot with Nancy Pelosi, at the expense of eastern Iowans,” Lange said. 

Johnson said Braley needs to answer “serious questions” about his record. “He believes that government is the solution.  I don’t,” Johnson said. “I believe that government tends to be the problem and the government that governs best, governs least.”

Tonight’s debate was hosted by Wartburg Television.