Six candidates vying for the Iowa Republican Party’s 2014 U.S. Senate nomination gathered tonight in Des Moines for a discussion of “ObamaCare” and the federal government’s finances.

The forum sponsored by Americans For Prosperity and National Review was the first time the candidates have stood together on the same stage at the same time and faced questions. When asked whether the recent federal government shut-down was a smart strategy for Republicans, David Young was the only one of the candidates to directly defend it.

“I was proud to watch the House of Representatives and the Senate fight ObamaCare — defunding it, delaying it, repealing it,” Young said. “You know, Ted Cruz was on the floor for 21 hours and it was so nice to see, finally, the senate deliberating…We need to do more of that.”

Matt Whitaker said he was “disappointed in the solution.”

“We cannot continue to manage this government by crisis, going from debt ceilings to fiscal cliffs and doing it all over again three months later,” Whitaker said, “and that’s where we’re heading with this.”

Sam Clovis criticized Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s role in brokering the deal that ended the shutdown and Clovis blasted what he called a “carve-out” of $2 billion for a project in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky that was inserted in the final compromise.

“Is that compromise?” Clovis asked. “Is it compromise kicking the can down the road? Is that the compromise that Iowans want from their next senator?”

Joni Ernst said politicians need to “stand on principles,” but they also need to “work together.”

“I don’t believe any Republican member of congress wanted to see a government shutdown or for us to default on our obligations,” Ernst said. “But I do believe they brought to light what is the tragedy of ObamaCare and what is our $17 trillion debt.”

Each of the candidates condemned the Affordable Care Act. Scott Schaben argued advocates of ObamaCare have a “hard time selling their product” and suggested “150 years ago those people would have been drug out of D.C. behind a horse.”

Paul Lunde, the other candidate invited on stage, frequently used the forum to tout some of the books he’s written.

“You can go home, you can get it on your computer, you can open up a book and you can see exactly what I’m proposing to do,” Lunde said.

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Scott Brennan noted the phrase “middle class” was not mentioned during the debate, but Texas Senator Ted Cruz was touted as the ideal for Republican senators to follow. Congressman Bruce Braley is the only Democratic candidate who is seeking Iowa’s senate seat in 2014.