With yet another poll showing Iowa’s U.S. Senate race a virtual dead heat, the two candidates squared off in a high-stakes television debate Saturday night in Davenport. The Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register “Iowa Poll” released late Saturday afternoon found Republican Joni Ernst had the support of 47 percent of those surveyed and Democrat Bruce Braley was one-point behind, at 46 percent. At the end of Saturday’s debate, Ernst accused Braley of having a “failed record.”
“I disagree almost completely with Congressman Braley and President Barack Obama on just about everything,” Ernst said. Braley attacked Ernst for saying the E-P-A should be eliminated and for suggesting privatizing Social Security might be an option for younger workers. “Senator Ernst is fond of saying things that sound good, but when you look at what they mean to Iowans, they don’t make Iowans better off,” Braley said. Ernst shot back. “When you talk about your words, behind closed doors at a fundraiser in Texas, you poked fun at Senator Grassley for being just a farmer without a law degree,” Ernst said, getting cheers and applause from her supporters in the audience at St. Ambrose University.
Braley countered by bringing up the Oklahoma billionaires who made their money in the oil industry. “You attended two secret donor meetings in California that were hosted by the Koch brothers. You called them ‘wonderful’ at that meeting,” Braley said, as Ernst laughed softly into her microphone. “You credited them with launching your senate campaign and these are the same Koch brothers who have seven different organizations attacking me right now in Iowa.” The two candidates agreed on one issue during the hour-long forum.
Neither would support an effort in congress to undo President Obama’s executive order which has granted temporary legal status to young adults who were illegally brought into the country when they were under the age of 16. They both said the U.S. must do more to stop Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria, but Ernst questioned Braley’s commitment to the effort. “Just earlier this year in June after Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, was taken by ISIS he voted against funding any combat actions in Iraq and yet now he’s asking that congress come back to reconsider that. I’m not sure where to go with that and I know that he twice voted to defund our combat troops while they were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Ernst said.
Braley responded: “Senator Ernst knows that that’s just not true. What I voted for was to end a decade-long commitment of US troops and I made it very clear that I supported pay increases for those troops and was not going to de-fund them and Senator Ernst also knows that the vote she’s talking about was a bipartisan vote where Republicans and Democrats had concerns about who we were going to be helping and what threat we were going to be addressing.”
Saturday’s event was hosted by the Quad-City Times and K-W-Q-C T-V and held at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. The third and final debate between these two candidates is scheduled for Thursday in Sioux City.