Iowa Congressman Steve King says it’s too soon to say if he’ll agree to debate his likely challenger in the 2012 Election, former First Lady Christie Vilsack. King, a Republican who’s served in Congress since 2003, has refused to debate many of his previous opponents.
“I wouldn’t take a position on that at this point,” King told Radio Iowa Monday. “I would remind people that I did debate my first opponent, Paul Shomshor. The other candidates…it tactically would not have been the right thing to do.” In 2010, King chose not to meet face to face with Democratic challenger Matt Campbell saying Campbell had not “earned the right” to debate.
Vilsack, meanwhile, said last week she would welcome a debate on the issues. “I would be happy to debate. I think it’s going to be a spirited campaign. We need to get into a room and have a serious conversation about the issues that are important to Iowans,” Vilsack said. King and Vilsack are expected square off in the new fourth congressional district. Vilsack formally launched her campaign for the Democratic nomination last Tuesday.
“I’m really dedicated to making sure that this is a conversation and that we do it in a civil tone,” Vilsack said of the likely matchup with King. “I just want to be a problem solver and not a partisan fighter.” King said he’s not completely opposed to a debate, but he adds there are plenty of other ways for voters to find out his political views.
“If anybody thinks I don’t want to debate for some reason, remember that I’m out there engaging in debate every day on the floor of the House of Representatives,” King said. He notes that former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, now the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, will be going before the House Ag Committee soon to discuss the 2012 Farm Bill.
“This is going to be pretty interesting with her husband, the Secretary of Agriculture…what kind of philosophy will emerge from him as we mark up the new Farm Bill? I think it will be an interesting race for Iowans,” King said of his likely showdown with Christie Vilsack.
“What I don’t know at this point is what she stands for and what positions she might be willing to take when and if the time comes.” The new fourth congressional district includes the cities of Ames, Charles City, Mason City, Sioux City, Fort Dodge, Storm Lake, Carroll and Harlan.
Josie Cooper, KSCJ, Sioux City also contributed to this story.