Republican Terry Branstad and Democrat Chet Culver each defended their records as governor, and criticized the other’s performance in office during their final face-to-face debate of the campaign.
Branstad, a four-term governor, is seeking a return to the office for a fifth term. Culver is seeking reelection to a second term. Branstad suggested Culver lacked the capacity to effectively govern.
“Governor Culver, you’ve tried hard, but the results speak for themself,” Brasntad said. “The status quo is not good enough. I know we can do better.”
A few minutes later, Culver suggested Branstad was a serial promise-breaker.
“He’s broken promises not to raise taxes. He’s broken promises to create jobs,” Culver said. “For example, in 1994, (Branstad) said he’d create 300,000 new jobs — came up 245,000 jobs short.”
When the candidates were asked for specificis on state efforts to help businesses create jobs, Culver began the exchange by touting state-by-state rankings in a national publication.
“Forbes magazine just said that Des Moines, Iowa, is the best place in America to do business and we have the 4th best state in America to do business. Those jobs are coming to Iowa: Aviva, Google, Microsoft, IBM — good wages, good benefits. There’s not a state in the country that can compete with us right now and in my second term, we’re going to go from being the third-best-run state in America to the absolute best-run state.”
Branstad replied: “First of all, I don’t read all the Wall Street magazines and that sort of thing, but I can tell you I’ve been traveling all over the state of Iowa. I’ve been to all 99 counties and there are 114,000 people out of work. There are a lot people hurting in this state. I know we can do better. I will focus on it day in and day out, year in and year out — not just before the election.”
The two differed on what percentage of the state’s economic development efforts should be aimed at recruiting out-of-state companies to Iowa and what percentage should be devoted to helping existing Iowa businesses grow.
“I believe it should be 50/50,” Culver said. “…I think we have to take care of our Iowa-based companies, large and small, to address their needs, help them expand and create new jobs, but at the same time, we need to be very hands on and aggressive to bring new businesses and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”
Branstad said growing from within would be his focus. “And most the ones that are growing are small companies growing. Bigger companies are reducing,” Brasntad said. “We have seen big companies like Principal Financial Group getting rid of its health insurance (division) and also…Wells Fargo has reduced a division there.”
The debate was sponsored by The Des Moines Register and broadcast statewide last night on Iowa Public Television.