The two incumbent Iowa congressmen who’re running against one another this fall would, under certain conditions, support bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan tomorrow. Republican Congressman Tom Latham and Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell debated last night in Council Bluffs.

Latham voiced concern that U.S. troops are required to operate under rules of engagement that do not allow them to protect themselves.

“I honestly think that unless we actually are there to fight to win, that we pull out tomorrow,” Latham said, “because we can go after the people that we want — the al Qaida Taliban, the threats to the U.S. — with other covert operations, with drones, things like that, rather that put our men and women in jeopardy.”

Boswell mentioned a meeting he and other congressmen had with the president of Afghanistan a year ago. “You know, I said to him then: ‘We have shown you some possibilities of what you can do. We’re willing to help train your army. We’re willing to help you train your police, but you have to decide. You’re kind of at a fork in the road, Mr. Karzi. do you want to go back to where you were or do you want to go on and have the opportunity that you have ?” Boswell said. “And I said this to him: ‘It’s time to bring our troops home.'”

In terms of domestic policy, Boswell repeated his call for a hike in the federal gas tax, to address the country’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. “We’re falling very much behind,” Boswell said, “and so I think across the country and certainly on the infrastructure committee, we can’t keep up commerce-wise, we can’t move people if we don’t do those things and we certainly don’t want people to fall through a bridge like they did in Minnesota.”

Latham opposes a federal gas tax increase. “I just think this is the wrong time,” Latham said. “And how that really penalizes us here in a rural state where a lot of folks have to drive 10, 15, 20 miles to work. They can’t get on a subway like they can in New York.” The two congressmen have debated three times this week.

Last night’s debate was sponsored and broadcast by Iowa Public Television. It will be replayed this evening at 7:30 and again at noon on Sunday.