Two of the three Democrats running for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination say American troops should not be deployed to Ukraine — but candidate Mike Franken says if Russia uses nuclear weapons, plans should change.
Franken, a retired Navy Admiral, said this weekend that the United States and “like-minded countries” must respond to help “pick up the pieces” if there’s a nuclear strike on Ukraine.
“We cannot let the use of weapons of mass destruction against a large population and a democracy ever be used and go without retort,” Franken said. “…You have to have a red line in life, otherwise you are not a first rate nation, otherwise you are not an American, you are not a leading democracy of the world.”
Candidate Abby Finkenauer, a former congresswoman, praised the sanctions the U.S. and its allies have imposed on Russia and she said Ukraine should be provided with the weapons and humanitarian aid it needs.
“I support making sure that we are doing everything we can, short of sending in U.S. troops, to support Ukraine,” Finkenauer said.
Candidate Glenn Hurst, a physician from Minden, said the focus should be on working with European allies to support Ukraine and helping to resettle refugees in the United States.
“We absolutely should not be sending U.S. troops to Ukraine,” Hurst said.
The candidates made their comments this weekend during a televised debate hosted by KCCI in Des Moines, KCRG in Cedar Rapids, KTIV in Sioux City and KWQC in Davenport. The three candidates are competing to run in the General Election against Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who is expected to win a GOP Primary race against state senator Jim Carlin.
The debate among the three Democrats highlighted their different views on ethanol policy. Hurst said it’s time to scale back the emphasis on ethanol because the auto industry is shifting to electric vehicles.
“We can, as a state, either try to squeeze every little last drop out of ethanol as we can,” Hurst said, “or we can take a progressive idea of introducing a third crop into our duopoly of corn and soy and make it a profitable crop for Iowa farmers.”
Finkenauer said the Biden Administration made the right move to allow E15 sales this summer, but she said the move should be made permanent.
“This is a time when we should be using what Iowa does best,” Finkenauer said, “and we should be making sure that we are supporting that industry.”
Franken said he supports year-round sales of E15 as a temporary solution, but he said the focus should be on finding alternate uses for ethanol as fuel for planes and ships or for power generation in Iowa.
“Giving Iowa a different environmental perspective and not villanize our farmers,” Franken said.
The three U.S. Senate candidates will meet in one more televised forum on Thursday, May 19 on Iowa PBS.