With just three weeks to go until they would have to make a choice, voters got one last opportunity Monday night to hear a debate between the Republican candidates running for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat. Two of the better known candidates — former state Senator John Howe and former radio talk show host Jason Lewis — continued to snipe at each other. This time it was Howe casting doubt on Lewis’ pro-life credentials, saying Lewis identified himself as pro-choice during his 1990 campaign for congress in Colorado.
Videos and transcripts
Gene Rechtzigel, who just entered the race the day of the debate, used his closing statement to assert that the Zika virus outbreak was caused by mosquitos that have been genetically modified. Snopes has rated this claim as “unfounded.”
Candidates were asked about a variety of topics. Each is indexed below so you can easily find it in the transcript. Participating in the debate were candidates David Gerson, John Howe, Jason Lewis, Darlene Miller, Pam Myhra and Gene Rechtzigel.
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Opening statements | Abiding by GOP endorsement |Second Amendment rights | Term limits for congress | Illegal immigration | Is climate change man made? | Energy policy | How will you get others in congress to listen to you? | How will you go against the Washington establishment? | What are your priorities? | Repealing Obamacare|Destroying Islamic terrorism |Privatize the VA healthcare system? |Proposed zip rail project |Farm bill |Rising college tuition costs |Defunding Planned Parenthood |Deporting immigrants? |Closing Statements
Transcript by Susan Maricle
John Howe: Well thank you all for being here. I know the weather outside is a little ah inclement but ah it’s great that you’re here. And great for the people that are watching at home. My name is John Howe, that’s H-O-W-E, and you can visit my Web site at howeforcongress.com. Y’know I I’m really excited about this debate because you’re gonna hear it’s from the heart. There’s not gonna be electronic devices up here or prepared statements. You’re gonna hear the candidates talk from the house. Ah, from the heart.
Ah I grew up on a farm in Minnesota without running water. Ah worked for somebody else for 17 years of my life, and started my own business. And ah worked very hard for that. But my greatest accomplishment is my family. Y’know I’ve got three wonderful kids, and my wife Lisa and I have been together since 1989. Ah my son Jack is in the ASU for engineering, and later on this year he’ll be joining the Navy into the nuclear program for six years active and two years inactive. And my son David is looking for an Air Force nomination. And then it took me awhile to talk my wife into the last one, and we’ve got one in middle school. But ah the reason I’m running for Congress is I’m passionate about the U.S. national debt. Y’know when Obama took office we were 10 trillion dollars in debt. And under his leadership we’ve went ah y’know the debt has increased 77 percent. So now we’re 18.8 trillion dollars in debt. The last budget added another 900 billion to the debt.
And so we have to get serious. And I think you need to send someone to Washington D.C. who’s gonna address those issues. And I think you need to make sure that you’re taking somebody who has not only – I think everybody up here’s gonna say about the same thing. Y’know we’re just a couple of degrees off on where we stand on issues. But somebody who’s actually going to have the personal integrity to address those issues. And I can assure you, as a as a congressman I’m gonna address that issue.
Now I’m not gonna run away from y’know my experience. And I’ll tell ya, I was the mayor of Red Wing. And being mayor helped me be a better senator. I served in the Minnesota Senate one term. And being senator is gonna help me be a better congressman. And I’ll answer to any vote that I’ve taken, and certainly my name is in the phone book. Again, my name is John Howe. You can visit my Web site at howeforcongress.com. That’s H-O-W-E-f-o-r Congress.com. Thank you.
MOD: Okay, David, you have two minutes for your opening statement.
David Gerson: My name is David Gerson. I’m a Jewish engineer from the proud blue-collar community of South St. Paul. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in industrial engineering. And I’ve spent a career in transformation, integration and change management. And I’m running for Congress because we know that Washington is a well-oiled machine for the political elite, big business, big banks, big media, and big unions, and we will no longer accept the collusion between special interests and government.
In 2014 I challenged a six-term incumbent for the Republican Party endorsement because he wasn’t representing us. And he won that endorsement by less than 3%. And because of the success of our grassroots movement, I am one of only nine candidates for United States Congress, including Senator Mike Lee, to earn the prestigious Madison Project endorsement.
I have put my career on hold and invested my life savings into this campaign because it is a cause for me. We the people will no longer accept the status quo. We are standing up to the giants in Washington. And we will defeat the Washington cartel. Thank you.
MOD: Gene, you have two minutes for your opening statement.
Gene Rechtzigel: Hello, I am Gene Rechtzigel, running for Congress in the Second District. I believe I am running because it’s about time we have a vision. We need a vision of I believe what God wants done in this country. I believe it’s not not by mistake that the motto of on our money is “In God We Trust.” And it comes underneath, where it says United States of America. And I believe that’s for a reason. Because “In God We Trust” is the foundation of the United States of America. And the G, GOP, in my opinion, should be “God Over People.” Because I believe if we’re not going to have the motto “In God We Trust,” and protect our freedoms and our liberties that God has so graciously bestowed upon us, that G is gonna turn into “government.” In Government We Trust.
And I believe as our Founding Fathers have said, we need to dedicate ourselves. Our lives. And what we do. To preserve the values of our Judeo-Christian values and ethics. I believe we’ve forgotten Israel. I believe as Israel goes downhill, so will the United States. I believe God would take his blessing off of the United States as we forsake Israel.
I have some posters out front. Showing how Israel from 1967 Seven Day War has has been retreating for the sake of peace. I believe that needs to be reversed. It should be Israel First. Israel should be the United States of the Middle East.
MOD: Jason, you have two minutes to make your opening statement.
Jason Lewis: Thanks Glen, and thanks to all of you, and especially thank you for this chair. I had surgery just a couple of weeks ago and now the official campaign statement was “it was a herniated disc.” But as Steve Drazkowski can attest, the real reason is the DFL’s been on my back so long I had to get it fixed.” (Audience laughs)
I wanna thank the candidates that spoke as well earlier, Steve and ah great Senate candidate there, it’s very very important that these races do well and we’ve got some great candidates. And I also want to thank all of you for coming tonight. And especially the work you do on the ground. Because without you, without the activists, without the delegates who take their time and go through the endorsement process, which I believe is key for the Republican Party. Y’see the Democrats have circled the wagons in the Second District. They’ve circled the wagon for one very radical candidate. They’re not even gonna bother with the primary. We need a candidate who’s endorsed, he can go forward and win in election an election in November. A conservative who can win. And that’s why I got in this race.
Now many of you know me from my years on the radio. But let me tell you in great Paul Harvey fashion, the rest of the story. I grew up in a small family business, Lewis Motor Supply, it was in the automotive aftermarket. And some of you will relate to this. But after 55 years in business, after my granddad and my dad and I had this business, the DOT came through and built a freeway through us. We went through something called eminent domain. And if you’ve ever had your property or your business condemned, what they define as “public use” and what they define as “just compensation” is something you’ve never seen before. And with all the talk about wind farms and ZIP rails down here, preserving the rights to property is a key to preserving freedom in Minnesota and America, and I intend to do that in Washington. So I’m very very concerned about that.
But I had to go out and get a second career. I got my undergraduate degree earlier, I finished my master’s and I got into broadcasting. So when people come up to me and say, “Jason, we like what you say, we know where you stand, but how how do we know you won’t change when you go to Washington?” I look back on the last 25 years of fighting the good fight and I say, “Because I never have.” Thank you very much.
MOD: Pam, you have two minutes for your opening statement.
Pam Myhra: Thank you so much for being here tonight. It’s wonderful. And Jeff, thank you so much for all the work that you did, putting this together.
I have been calling hundreds of people. And asking them, “What are your concerns?” And I’ve been hearing a common theme. Actually, many common themes. And one of the things I’ve heard is, “Pam, I’m really frustrated.” And there are others who say, “I’m angry.” And others: “I don’t have any hope that there’s any possible way to change Washington D.C. and the federal government.”
I have hope and I’d like to share with you why I have hope and why I’m running for Congress. Five of my first six years of life, I spent in Latin America. My first language was Spanish. My family returned to the United States when I was six years old. I struggled, just struggled in school unable to read. Until fifth grade. That year changed my life forever. I had a teacher who taught me to read. I gained five years in those short nine months. I learned foundational lessons for life through that experience. One, God answers prayer. Two, the importance of working hard and persevering in the face of a challenge. And three, that there is always, always hope. So yes, I have hope.
I am living the American dream. And I’m running because I want the people of the Second Congressional District, their children and grandchildren to experience and live the American dream as well. And the opportunities I have enjoyed.
I’m a certified public accountant, a former two-term state representative with a strong conservative and prolife voting record, I live in the district and have for over 40 years. And I’m a deeply concerned mother of three.
MOD: Darlene, two minutes for your opening statement.
Darlene Miller: Good evening, and thank you all for coming out here tonight. I really appreciate you hosting us. I’m Darlene Miller, and I grew up in the Second District on a farm in New Prague. And I was one of eight children. And any of you who are on farms now, or grew up on farms, know that farming is very very hard work. And I wasn’t afraid of hard work then, and I’m certainly not afraid of it today. Although I always think, “Well maybe we just did the hard work because our parents told us to do it, and we didn’t question it at the time, we just plain did it.”
And I’m really happy to say I own a manufacturing company in Burnsville, Minnesota. Ah I have owned it for over 20 years. And located in the Second District. And I’m really really proud of my employees. I treat them like family and they have really helped us create our success. We took a company that had very old technology um old screw machines, if you’ve ever heard of those, and transformed it into a modern 21st century precision machining company. And I show people through action, how that could be done. And we all worked together and made that happen.
And I’m running for Congress because I have real conservative values and real-life experiences. And I truly believe we need to make a difference in what’s happening today in Washington D.C.. I want to bring some of those business values to Congress. Ah things like listening and implementing and taking risk and balancing a budget, most importantly. Thank you.
MOD: That completes opening statements. Now we’ll get into a series of about 5 or 6 questions. Each candidate will have 30 seconds to respond to the question. We have lots of good questions. If you use less than 30 seconds, it would be appreciated. (laughs)
JH: Well, what I’ve said before, is if everybody else is gonna abide by it, and you can guarantee me that no one else is gonna enter the race, absolutely. But what we’ve found, and it’s interesting that I made that comment, that we’ve got people in the race now that say they’re not gonna abide by the endorsement. Now, I know Jason says it’s a very important issue, but I think one of the reasons that he’s very adamant about that is, he doesn’t live in the district. I just met this gentleman (to Rechtzigel) for the first time tonight. Right on stage here, just a few seconds ago. So y’know I think the issues are too important right now, and my personal commitment too strong. I’ll take a wait and see attitude at this point, but I’m I’m gonna work very hard to earn the endorsement.
PM: Get thirty seconds.
MOD: You have thirty seconds.
DG: I’m absolutely honoring the endorsement. I’m sorry, were you talking to me?
DG: Okay. Absolutely.
GR: I would honor the endorsement because when you run against the endorsee you’re splitting the party and ah and that’s not going to be good in November.
JL: Yeah, I live a whopping two miles outside the district. I, like Michele Bachmann and Rod Grams before me, got drawn out. I’m the poster child for gerrymandering. My school district’s in the district, my wife works at the Swim Shop in Apple Valley, I’m in the district every day going to my doctor or going someplace else, so that’s just a red herring. The fact is, I’m going to abide by the endorsement, because my views best represent the district. And I don’t know why anybody else wouldn’t.
PM: Yes. I am abiding by the endorsement.
DM: I’m actually going to reach out to everyone in the process, and I would love to have the endorsement, and but I think I need to reach out to everyone in the Second District, from the activists to the grassroots to every person. And so I’m going to continue on to the primary.
DG: Absolutely. In fact, ah I have a carry permit, and obviously I don’t have my weapon here in the school, but I open carry everywhere to display our rights because it is so important that people understand that we have this right, and I will fight for our right to bear arms.
GR: The Second Amendment right is ah very important. The opposition to it is ah always blaming guns or knives or something when someone gets hurt or murdered. Um when actually it’s behavior. It’s the people. And so I fully support Second Amendment rights.
JL: Of course! I fought hard for those for 25 years on the radio, and I intend to do the same in Congress. My wife’s a former police officer, so she can tell ya all about why police men and women carry weapons. You don’t want to be defenseless. Ah one of the keys for the next member of Congress is to work on Concealed Carry Reciprocity across state lines. Because since the Heller decision and the McDonald decision, you’ve got a number of courts – the Supreme Court said that for the first time in Heller, “The right to bear arms is a fundamental right,” and yet you’ve got lower courts not abiding by that. So we need to move on some of those issues in Congress.
PM: Yes Glen. The people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and I take that literally.
DM: I absolutely support the Second Amendment. I actually had a situation personally where a police officer, when I asked him what I should do, told me to “go get a gun. Learn how to use it, take the training, and get one.” And I followed that direction. I would definitely support it in Congress.
JH: Well, here’s what makes me different than the rest here. Back in 1985 I was the security supervisor at Sears; I was also a prison guard. And I had to sue the city of St. Cloud back in 1985 for the permit and the right to carry a concealed weapon.
Now, everybody talks about it. I actually did something about it. Now, the other thing is, I don’t show off my handgun in a side. I wear that concealed. If I was wearing a handgun, you wouldn‘t know whether I was wearing one or not. It it’s not for political ah posturing. It’s it’s something to take serious. And ah you can see I did that over 30 years ago. I actually took action. And ah didn’t do it for political posturing.
MOD: Okay, next question. It’s a combination question. Do you support term limits for Congress? If you do, how many terms for the House of Representatives and how many terms for the Senate? Okay? Again, 30 seconds and we’ll start with Gene.
GR: Ah term limits is a good principle of not letting people stay in office forever. But I’m against it. Ah I believe the American voters can make up their own mind. And I don’t think we should ah second guess the American voters.
I believe there’s two groups of people. Who are in office. Those that trust the people and those that distrust the people. Tyranny comes from those that distrust the people.
JL: Yeah, I do believe in term limits. I would set it at four terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. Now that’s more than generous. It’s 20 years. But if we had that in effect right now, half of Congress would have to go home. (laughter) It works for the president, the founders called it “rotation in office,” now they didn’t think anybody would want to serve that long, so they didn’t put it into the Constitution, but they trusted people who were willing to give up power. Unfortunately, we have people in Washington today who won’t go out until they’re horizontal. We need to stop that.
PM: By the way, I received the A grade from the NRA and so in my four years in the Minnesota House of Representatives, I supported our Second Amendment rights. By voting for them.
As far as term limits go, I do support a bill that would have term limits: 6 terms in the House, which is 12 years, and 2 terms in the Senate, which is 12 years as well.
DM: I absolutely support term limits. And to be honest, I I guess I’ve never asked been asked this before, but I would say it should be the same as what our president gets, which would be 8 years. We should not have career politicians.
JH: Absolutely. I believe that ah that we should have term limits. I don’t think people should go to Congress and ah plan on retirement there. Y’know I think either 3 terms in the House and 2 terms in the Senate or some combination of it ah, no more than ah y’know 10 to 12 years of service.
Y’know you should go there as public service. And I think, I hope that’s what people are lookin at here. Who wants a job or who’s going to serve the public. And that’s what you should really be looking at when you serve.
DG: I believe in term limits. I believe that people should go to Congress, it should not be a career, they should go there to serve. However, our founding fathers understood that the voting booth was the greatest way to term limits. Your representatives, if they are not being held to their principles, and this community has has a stake in ensuring that we followed what our founding fathers set in place.
MOD: Thank you, next question. Again, 30 seconds. Do you support the passage of Kate’s Law? Bill O’Reilly popularized this law, it has to do with illegal immigration, and ah the commitment of I think felonies and a number of other things. Ah if you need additional ah explanation about Kate’s Law, ah Jeff will be glad to explain it to you.
(laughs) The ah we’ll start with Jason.
JL: Well, there’s a case in California where the poor woman was slain by an illegal immigrant. And we do have we have seen ah an uptick in crime from illegal immigration. We also, sadly, see whether it’s legal or legal illegal immigration, they have more of a of a chance on being on public assistance. In fact, ah the Center for Immigration Studies says it costs us about 113 billion dollars a year in just illegal immigration costs. Part of that policing and corrections, 84 billion of which are borne by the states.
So, the big question here is what are we gonna do about it. And it’s not just illegal immigration, I might add. We ah now have Syrian refugees the state of Minnesota wants to take in, that will cost us billions. We need to tackle that too, which all revolves around this issue.
PM: Yes, I would support Kate’s Law. And I think that as far as the 11.5 million people that are here illegal undocumented, we should be sending the ah violent ones home first, we should be deporting them first.
DM: I do support Kate’s Law. I I don’t believe we should have sanctuary cities. And as far as the 11.5 million people here, we need to make sure that we can protect our borders and that we vet the people coming in here. And we can not just ah provide amnesty to these people. We need to make sure that they are American citi- want to be American. People. American values.
JH: We absolutely need to take action against people that are breaking our laws. And y’know one of the things we talk about, sanctuary cities, if if I’m elected to Congress, ah one of the first things I’ll do is put forth a bill that says if you’re a sanctuary city, you’re not going to receive any federal funding. Because ah y’know when when somebody ah is addressing an issue and a crime, one of the things the police absolutely need to do is identify that person and and ah for ah our cities to ah instruct the police to ah completely disregard laws of the United States is not not correct.
DG: We should absolutely defund transportation to sanctuary cities. And we should send all illegal criminals back home and they should be deported.
MOD: And Gene.
GR: Ah there is ah a huge problem but I think ah we could prevent a lot of these problems if we simply ah try to ah allow the people into the United States that are going to be law-abiding citizens I mean Obama here ah wants ah 10,000 refugees to be allowed in here. But they’re not screening them properly.
And it’s and I believe a lot of our problems can be prevented by doing ah proper screening.
MOD: And Pam.
MOD: Oh, I asked that already. All right. (laughs) Next question. Here’s the question. Do you believe that climate change is the result of human activity? Please elaborate. In thirty seconds or less. (laughter)
PM: I do not believe that ah climate change is a result of human activity. That a volcano happens and it changes our atmosphere. Ah I believe there is changes that are happening in our climate, when I was in high school we were worried about a new ice age, and ah there’s now global warming and we’re talking about in the 20 in 2030s and the 2040s of of more ah cold weather coming. And ah a cold ah a new ice age.
DM: Well, I’m I don’t believe humans really make a difference in the climate change. But y’know there is a lot of potential for innovation ah to develop different climate change ideas. Ah I certainly support a lot of those. Ah whether it’s energy savings, but we have done a lot of that. We are number one in the nation for climate change. Ah progression already.
MOD: Ah John.
JH: Well I think Mother Nature is the most powerful force when it comes to climate change, and if there’s one significant volcanic eruption ah this is going to do more to change the environment than anything mankind has done.
And that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take reasonable measures. Y’know I don’t think we need to hurt our businesses and our economy, but certainly we need to take care of ah y’know I’m a conservationist, and I believe we need to ah do what we can to ah to do the right thing.
DG: The real question is, what is the federal government gonna do about it. And unfortunately, Obama’s own data from his own studies for the policies that he is suggesting show that the impact from these programs will be insignificant, yet the impact on the economy will be great. And it will create significantly regressive taxes.
GR: Well the Paris Accord ah where they talked about the future of climate change and the big concern ah it costs ah billions and billions of dollars per year, and in that accord, the developed nations are gonna be paying and flipping most of the bill for the undeveloped nations. I am ah against that because I believe the earth is changing in ways that science has stated our magnetic field is decreasing, and as it does, the earth is heating up.
MOD: And Jason.
JL: Yeah, they confuse causation with correlation. Ah we thought we were going into a little ice age again after post–World War II, when the industrial greenhouse gasses really started to multiply, up until the seventies, then it was global warming, up until the late 1990s, and the government’s very own model show the last 15 years it’s flatlined, and they have no idea why. But they’re basing policy on it. So what do you get from this policy? You get AWA Goodhue wind farms. You get people’s lives destroyed. You get a climate power plant, or a clean power plant by this president that’s gonna cost a half a trillion dollars to lower global temperatures by 2/100ths of one degree if China and India go along. Grab your wallets.
MOD: Okay with that we will have a question from the audience on energy, I believe, Jeff
MOD2: Where’s Christy at? Christy Rosenquist has a question on energy.
CR: What would be your plan for dealing with on the electrical side of energy production tax credit ITC and regulations that are primarily designed to ah promote wind, solar and other nonfunctional renewable energy?
MOD: And we’ll start with Pam. You have 30 seconds.
PM: I believe –
MOD: One minute. Okay, one minute on this question.
PM: I believe that it’s better when we have free markets. When the government does not have subsidies or ah subsidize different ah forms of energy. That the consumers are able to pick that it makes financial common sense. Ah I believe in ah reducing the regulations and ah add adding more regulations result in increased increasing in our premiums, our bills, which will result greater hardship for those people who are on fixed in incomes and lower incomes.
MOD: Um Darlene.
DM: I certainly don’t support any additional taxes. And I do support any kind of solar wind energy, but it depends on the area. Ah having government decide that one size fits all is not the answer. It depends on the community, it depends on the the county, the state, and we are so overregulated, and they’re gonna continue to overregulate it, we need to get rid of all of that. Ah we wanna be safe, but we don’t need to be paying through the nose for overregulation.
And the other part of it is, it should be free enterprise. It shouldn’t be the government dictating how they should be done. Free enterprise would do a lot better job at this.
JH: Well, we shouldn’t build subsidies into the business model. That just doesn’t work. And and Christy, thanks for your question. Y’know I’ve worked very hard on ah trying to defeat the big wind towers, and I think y’know they just simply do not work and ah it’s not a good ah use of ah taxpayer money. And that’s what these designs are.
The the problem though is we subsidize just about every form of energy. And one of the y’know not to say that we shouldn’t have smart energy. Y’know certainly wind and solar should be part of the mix, but we subsidize everything. Having a strong energy, and getting ourselves energy independent is part of a good national security plan. So we should have a mix of it, we should be working towards ah getting en energy independent, and I applaud people that ah take measures on their own behalf to ah move towards energy independence, because we should look at that.
DG: We need to move, remove all government interference with all forms of energy. All regulations, all subsidies, and allow them to compete in the open market on their own.
GR: We need to allow the Breeder reactors to be built. Ah what they do is they will consume the waste of nuclear reactors. Ever wondering what to do with the waste of nuclear reactors? Build Breeder Reactors. Breeder Reactors put out hardly no waste. And the waste it does put out um is not that radioactive. It doesn’t ah have a great life span. And so I believe the future is Breeder Reactors.
You probably say, ah “Hey, ah can you ah protect them?” And I believe yes. Ah our country is the greatest country in the world, and I believe we ah can build Breeder Reactors and ah under ah a quality ah security measure. And I believe we need to go ahead with that. Ah and run our cars as much as possible on electricity, to answer your question: wind no, solar yes.
JL: I believe Christy’s question was, “How do you feel about the wind production tax credit?” And the answer is, it was snuck back in, it was set to expire until the budget deal last December, a couple of months ago, and they snuck it back in as another tax extender. I am vehemently opposed to that. We need a level playing field for energy across the board. As I said earlier, this is why we get the wind farms. T. Boone Pickens wouldn’t have targeted AWA Goodhue without the wind production tax credit. The same with solar. The reason our utility bills went up last year in Minnesota by 10% is because we have a renewable portfolio standard requiring that Excel gets 30% of its power by 2030 from renewable power.
Look, all of these all of these ideas were put about when we were running out of coal. We were running out of oil. We were running around out of the cheapest energy. That’s not happening anymore, as we all can attest.
So, I would undo all of those, and that’s why our tax code is full of holes that looks like Swiss cheese because some lobbyist, some interest group wants to get a credit in there. And after awhile, you and I have to pick up the burden because they’re not paying taxes for it.
MOD: Okay, at this point we’ll have an award for a free speech contest by Ernie and the student Grant Schlichting — I hope I pronounced that correctly.
MOD2: Schlechting .
MOD: Schlecting, okay, will also have a question for the candidates; keep your response to ah one minute.
MOD2: Grant, where are you? Where? Come on up.
MOD2: Every year the Hiawatha Valley Toastmasters has an annual contest for “what it means to be an American.” And Grant took third place with an outstanding presentation on what it means to be in America. I want to give you this award, you deserve it.
GS: Thank you.
MOD: And, what question would you have for our candidates tonight?
GS: So the question I have is I know I’m at (inaudible) and so for me it’s a lot about getting my voice heard and being able to present myself. So my question is, are you going to present yourself in Congress that’s gonna made people listen to you, and how you are going to be able to push forward your policies for not only Minnesota but for America?
MOD: I will start with Darlene, one minute please.
DM: Well! I am not a politician, I’m a business leader, a business owner, and I’m really not about talk. I’m about solutions. So when I get to Washington D.C. I intend to use some of my business traits: to implement and to listen and to balance a budget. So that’s how I feel I will manage in Washington D.C. and get my word across.
JH: Well, Grant, that’s a great question. And I’ll tell ya, that’s where having a little experience in the legislative body means a lot. Because you need to push as hard as you can. Now you’ve got some members up here saying they’re gonna go join the Freedom Club. Y’know there’s a time and a place where you hold leadership accountable, when they promise you something they’re not doin it, or they’re not doing the right thing. But I tell ya what, if you’re just gonna go up to Washington D.C. and thumb your nose at everybody and not get anything done, all you’re gonna do is minimize your constituents. Y’know you need to move the ball forward. So you need to push as hard as you can without alienating people. Because in the end, we need to make America work. We need to get the economy goin. We have serious national security issues. So we need to work together, and it isn’t just about ah y’know it isn’t just about you as the person and makin a name for yourself. It’s about getting the hard work done. And sometimes you can do a lot of that behind the scenes and working very hard.
I was very successful in getting legislation passed ah in the state house, and and it was about doing common sense things. Like the yellow flashing arrow when you come to a stop light and you want to take a left hand turn; if no one’s comin the other way, you can take a left hand turn. Because of my legislation.
So again, it’s common sense, and you have to push as hard as you can.
DG: Well, I think I’ve set an example. I’ve been having town hall meetings, dozens of them, across this congressional district and getting out and talking to people. And that’s the job of a representative. You also need to use your voice and get on the media and reframe the debate from the liberal media and our failed leadership, and I set a great example on Up and At ‘Em, I explained how we can advance our true conservative principles, how we should have defunded Planned Parenthood, and forced Obama to justify shutting down the government to fund a private organization which was illegally and immorally harvesting baby parts.
GR: I believe we need to fix the trouble in the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party is the problem of America, not so much the Democrats. The Republican Party, the establishment, uses a majority vote system. And it weeds out the grassroots. So all of a sudden the grassroots Republicans wonder, “Why should I go to the polls and vote for a candidate that I don’t believe in?” Well the problem is is because the establishment does the endorsing. Not the grassroot Republicans. This country would be totally different today if the grassroots were being represented the last 30 years. We would have had different presidents, we would have a strong Congress, but that’s not happening. So what would do we need in Congress? We need to lead with conviction.
And, Congress needs to decide when life begins. Because the courts can’t figure out when life begins. When does life begin? Does it begin at birth or does it begin at conception?
JL: Well, the answer’s fairly straightforward. You’ve gotta put principle above party. Um for years and years in this country, we’ve had this red-versus-blue tribalism where the the tribes and the parties get together and they do what’s best for them instead of doing what’s best for the nation. There’s a lot of talk about “getting things done.” Well, they got something done in December: they undid the only spending cuts that were actually working, the budget sequestration, and they replaced it with increasing the deficit 680 billion dollars. They got together and they got something done. Well, it depends on what you’re getting done. Whether it’s worth it.
I’m willing to work with anybody in Congress, as long as they agree with the principles I’m going to espouse. I don’t care what party they’re from. And I’m not gonna be just a Big Government Republican that says “Let’s cut the Democrat programs but let’s keep ours.” That’s how we got in this mess. Big Government Democrats, and Big Government Republicans. Let’s be honest. The debt has grown, skyrocketed under Obama, but it’s tripled since 2001. The budget has doubled since 2001. So let’s disabuse ourselves of placing party above principle. And get back to governing the nation.
PM: I will represent myself in the same way that I represented myself in the House of Representatives. As your voice. That’s why I’m abiding by the endorsement. That’s why I’m making hundreds and hundreds of phone calls. Is because I want to represent you.
I’m a certified public accountant, which is a skill set that is really valuable when you think about the financial difficulties our our country is in. I’m also an experienced legislator. And had four bills that were unanimously passed in the house, and signed into law by the governor. And so I will be listening. Listening to you first of all. And listening to my colleagues, and working together to make government work for us.
MOD: Okay, now we will have a questions that will allow one candidate to answer for one minute. Other candidates, if they wish wish to speak to the question, need to put up their “rebut” card. Okay. Is that clear? So one minute, one question (audience, MOD laugh) please let me ask the question before we we but so one minute to the first ah candidate and then the rest of the candidates have 30 seconds if they want to respond to the same question. And you put up your “rebut” card and I will call on you, ah depending on how quickly you put the rebut card up. Now (laughs) just kidding.
Ah. Okay. First question goes to John. Ah how do you not become a part of the Washington problem? Second part of the question, what gives you your strength to go against the establishment? There were multiple submissions on this question.
JH: Well, thank you
MOD: One minute.
JH: for the question. I think I’ve got a record of standing up and being independent. I mean, how many people in here I guess ah in the senate district when I didn’t abide y’know when I challenged the leadership? I mean, the actual Republican machine made phone calls against me ah in my own senate district. Because one of the things I proposed when I was a senator was I wanted to ah reduce our overall tax from 6.875 down to 4.9. Actually, when you figure in local option sales taxes it’s like 7.22. But lower that to 4.9 and eliminate the personal income tax. Well Governor Dayton didn’t like it because it ah didn’t provide new revenue for him. But ah the Republican Party didn’t like it because they had a mantra of “no new taxes.” And obviously, it was expanding the sales tax and lowering the the base. So I have not only have a record of that, and I’ve got more instances to ah don’t have time to share them here, but I actually am a very independent voice, I’m a very conservative voice, and I can tell ya, servin in the senate, you know the people that you work with, not all of ‘em are true conservatives.
MOD: Any rebuts? Okay. Seeing none, we’ll move to the next question. Again, one minute ah and this is for David. What makes you the most qualified ah to serve in Congress?
DG: What makes me qualified is that people know where I stand on the issues. They know that I will uphold my principles, people know me, they have seen me for three years, I have developed the relationships down here, I have met with people at dozens of town hall meetings, I am going to follow the Constitution, they have seen me stand up for what I believe in, no matter the cost.
MOD: Ah John, for a rebut? Thirty seconds.
JH: Yeah I I think that, again we’re all gonna say about the same thing here. But you have people that just talk. And talk is real cheap. Now you’ve got a couple of people on the stage here that have actually had to legislate. And we’ve had to answer for our votes. Now, people are gonna try and misconstrue those or whatever, but you call and you talk to us about our votes, and hold us accountable. And let us let’s let’s ah have that discussion.
MOD: Okay, any other
JL: Let’s have that discussion. (audience laughs)
MOD: Darlene, go ahead.
JL: Go ahead.
DM: Y’know I think it makes a difference that I have the real-life experiences. I haven’t been in politics before, but I’ve definitely been in business, and working in Congress is like running a business. And you have to bring those same values there. You have to listen and you have to work across and you have to implement. All those things are absolutely critical. And I really feel that my business background, my hard work background, growing up on a farm, will make a difference when I get to Congress.
JL: Well, you have to be willing to stand by your principles. I mean, I’ve had my 15 minutes and everybody knows where I stand. I’ve said it time and time again, I haven’t changed my positions, I’m willing to take that to Washington, because this country is at an inflection point.
But John, if you want to play the experience card all the time, you might want to tell the folks why you voted for a Mark Dayton bonding bill in 2012 that Representative Drazkowski, who’s endorsed my campaign, called “a blank check for Mark Dayton,” and created the DEED corporate slush fund.
MOD: Ah, Gene.
GR: Well, we’ve heard of microeconomics, we’ve heard of macroeconomics, but we need to hear something about universal economics, the universe, what’s holding us all together and that. And I believe Second Corinthians 3:17 really sums it up: “Now the Lord is a spirit. And where the spirit of the Lord is, there is a liberty.” Second Corinthians 3:17.
PM: Thank you.
MOD: Thirty seconds.
PM: The reason why I believe I’m the most qualified is I have the experience, having served in the legislature for four years. People can see how I voted. I have stayed with the course, I have been a conservative and ah done those particular values that we have. And also, I’m a certified public accountant. And again, those are a lot of the big issues that we’re facing in our nation.
MOD: Ah John, under the rules that were given to me, ah if one candidate mentions something negative to another, you can respond to that in the next question. Ah using your 30 seconds. Rather than a back and forth on the same question in order to move this forward.
The next question will come from I believe a student in the au audience. You will have ah one minute – ah, oh, who’s the candidate? Gene will have one minute to answer, and 30-second
rebuts are appropriate. I believe Jeff has the
MOD2: Yep, I got it right here. Ah this is Matt Brewer, he’s from Ms. Loeschke’s
AP Government class here in Cannon Falls. And it’s two-part question.
MOD: Gene, you’ll have one minute to respond to the question. And again, any rebuts would have 30 seconds. Gene?
GR: Ah the priorities ah would be ah security, number one I believe we need to be strong, peace through strength as Ronald Reagan did, I believe ah as far as ah our economy, a 12% flat tax, ah with a $12,000 deduction on a, and then also a fair tax system, ah right now it’s ah House File ah 25, the Fair Tax System, and it ah basically has the states implement the sales tax. Ah that would encourage ah savings and ah and also ah a gold standard should be considered because we have runaway inflation um that’s low right now, I know, but there’s huge deficits that are going on.
MOD: Darlene? Thirty seconds.
DM: Well I think that the three top issues that I’m hearing about from the people in the Second District is number one is jobs and the economy. People have a real fear of losing their job, not having a job, being underemployed. And so that’s critical. And then along with that fear, I’m also hearing fear of ISIS, ah it’s a real fear, and they’re concerned our government’s not protecting us, and the third thing for me is mental health. I I really feel we need to address that problem that is happening out there today.
MOD: Jason: 30 seconds.
JL: Yeah, you’ve gotta restore the economy, and get some sort of semblance of economic growth. Through one quarter of the Reagan years, we were growing at 8.3%. GDP in the fourth quarter, we just found out, was .7%. Median wages are down 4,000 from at the end the beginning of the recession. And now at the beginning of the recovery, they’re still down 4,000. We’ve gotta reform the tax code, get rid of the carveouts for GE and the corporate welfare, quit substituting bailouts for bankruptcy, and have a flatter fairer tax, reform healthcare, audit the Fed, their monetary policy is giving us these credit booms and busts, and now we’re getting a bust, and of course, we’ve gotta secure the homeland.
MOD: Pam, 30 seconds.
PM: I believe that we need to have responsible spending. And we need to reduce the interference of government in our lives. Particularly in the area of businesses, because that will give us the opportunity to have more job creation.
And we need to secure our borders and protect our country.
MOD: And John. Thirty seconds, and you can re rebut the previous comments.
JH: Well, first off the national debt is the number one issue. It affects everything we do. It affects our national security, it affects our trade deficit, with China, y’know we owe China almost two trillion dollars now, we need them to buy our U.S. debt, but when it comes to bonding, Jason you’re just ah showing your naivetivity (sic) there with ah not understanding how roads and bridges get built. Y’know the reason you bond for projects like that is because you don’t have one one group of people paying for a benefit that the next 20 or 30 years, someone’s gonna use. So you spread that out so everybody that enjoys that improvement gets to pay for that improvement.
MOD: Okay, next question. Ah under the same rules. Ah do you support tbe repeal of the Affordable Care the Affordable Healthcare Act, Obamacare? If you do, what new ideas would you propose to fill the healthcare void left by the repeal of Obamacare? Since I wrote a small book on Obamacare, and why we why it won’t work, I will answer the question and if you agree, just say “ditto.” (laughs) No, just kidding. (laughter) No, one minute and this question goes to Jason.
JL: Well, of course. You’ve gotta repeal Obamacare, but it’s a great question because just saying “repeal” is not enough. We’ve gotta go back to when this problem started. All the way back to World War II, with wage and price controls, when businesses could not give employees a raise, so they started granting them healthcare at work. Then we changed the tax code in the 1950s, so that now the only place you got healthcare was at work. Well guess what? Somebody turns 50, 60, and they have diabetes, and they lose their job, all of a sudden they’re thrown in the individual market for the first time, trying to buy healthcare and they’ve got a pre-existing condition.
We need to change the tax code, we need to buy healthcare across state lines, but most importantly, we need to undo the mandates, the ridiculous essential wellness benefits, that pray that pay for all sorts of gambling addiction counseling, keeping Baby Huey on your family plan until he’s 26, this has driven up the cost of healthcare, combined with community rating, and we’ve seen young people getting priced out of the healthcare market. So let’s treat it like any other form of insurance. Where you can take it with you. Let’s get the costs down. You can buy a real catastrophic policy, not the kind President Obama thinks you need, and all of a sudden you solve a big chunk of this problem.
MOD: Ah Darlene, 30 seconds.
DM: We need to repeal Obamacare. It has failed us in all directions. The cost, is it’s costing all of us more, every one of us, plus any of us who supply to our businesses, to our people, it you no longer can keep your doctor, like we were promised we could, and I would not say we’re getting better care.
Some of the things we could do is have insurance across state lines, we could do small groups, put them together, there’s a lot of innovative ideas we can come up with to reduce the cost instead of paying the absolutely ridiculous cost we’re paying today.
PM: Yes, it should be repealed in its entirety, and replaced. We need to have health insurance similar to car insurance. Where we keep it even though we might lose our job. It’s portable. And that it does go across state lines. That ah as an individual, we can pick what we want, what we need. And what we choose. Just like we do when we get a car insurance policy. We pick the particular policy we want.
MOD: Seeing no other rebuts –
JH: There we go.
JH: Ah certainly ah the ACA is not working. Comp – you know if you look at Dakota County, or in Goodhue County, we have one option. We have the highest increase in premiums. Y’know when the president said, “If you like your program, you get to keep it, if you like your doctor, you get to keep it.” Well guess what? I didn’t get to keep my insurance policy, I didn’t get to keep ah my doctor. Everything changed.
And so competition is the answer. Government is not the answer. And ah certainly buying insurance across state lines, that was one of the problems when I was runnin the Sears stores. So we we need to definitely work on that issue. Ah but we need to have free market, a one size fits all is not the answer.
MOD: Okay, ah Gene.
MOD: 30 seconds.
GR: Okay, I just want to add that ah basically Obamacare ah the requirement that you have to carry it harms the the poor people. And it takes away their freedom. They have to pay $675 approximately as a penalty, and also or 2.5% of their income if they do not take it. So it definitely must be repealed.
MOD: Okay, seeing no other rebut cards, we will go to the next question. Pam, this is for you, one minute. Islamic terrorism is the number one concern of Americans today. What steps would you take to destroy Islamic terror terrorism in America?
PM: As I’ve been calling the people across the Second Congressional District, this has been one of the very top priorities that they have named. It is their fear of Islamic terrorism. And security. They worry about, their safety, even going to the Mall of America or the Burnsville Center.
First of all, what we need to do is we need to secure our borders. We’ve heard of it of ah people coming in. We need to secure our borders. Then we need to have a plan. An effective plan and resolution, and with great resolve, to go forward and destroy the enemy.
MOD: Gene, 30 seconds.
GR: Ah you ah have seen my posters out front. And I believe we need to ah attack ah Islamic terrorism as it is. It is terrorism, and the best way of doing that is that Israel police the Middle East. I believe that’s what we need to get back to, as in 1967, people felt the most secure, and people ah 60% of the people back then believed government did the right thing most of the time, right now only 19% of the people believe that government is doing the right thing.
JH: ISIS absolutely must be defeated. But you know, we need to have ah the people defend the people of, especially the men of fighting age, defend their own country first. We need to require that, and they have to demonstrate that. Y’know America cannot be the world’s police officer. We have to have countries that are gonna stand up and and fight, but we can also build coalitions. But we must defeat ISIS. There is no other option.
JL: We need to put pressure on our so-called Sunni allies. The Sunnis outnumber the Shia in the Middle East 9 to 1; we’re allied with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, but when we need them in Syria for instance, Saudi Arabia goes to Yemen. They look the other way as the Abbas school teaches radical version that that becomes al-Qaeda in Iraq or ISIS in Syria. So we need to put pressure on them and tell them to step up to the plate.
General Petraeus said, just a few weeks ago, that he wouldn’t put troops in Syria because they would support the Sunni rebels there that he doesn’t trust. So if we don’t get that handled real soon, we’re gonna have a big problem.
DM: You’re right, I’m hearing this as the number one issue also. And I would encourage us ah to agree with the Safe Act, protect our borders, we all know that we cannot vet these people properly now, and the Safe Act says it has to be done through all three agencies, we need to make sure that we know the people who are coming into this country are not ISIS people and are not gonna harm us.
MOD: David, 30 seconds.
DG: We need to secure our southern border, we need to end the visa waiver program, we need to ensure that refugees do not come in from countries where we cannot properly vet them, we need to have the best intelligence in the world by working with our allies, and we need to cut off the head of the snake. Anytime we know of any kind of threat to us anywhere in the world we need to take out the leaders, we need to take out the training cells, and ensure that we – number one job of the federal government is actually done, and that is to provide our national security.
MOD: Ah the next question will come from Jeff, it was submitted by a veteran who was not here. And the same rules apply as far as responding. And Darlene, you’ll have one minute. Jeff, do you want to ask the question?
MOD2: Yeah. Ah this question was submitted through our Web site and it comes from Bruce Yernberg from Red Wing. Hopefully I didn’t butcher that too bad. Ah here’s what he wrote.
A Vietnam veteran, I served my country with honor. VA medical centers in Minnesota have properly and respectfully given me excellent care for years. I’m probably still living because of the care I received. His question is, many of the Republican candidates for president have favored abolishing the VA health system by turning it over to what he calls “private, for-profit greedy healthcare sector.” Do any of the GOP CD2 candidates favor abolishing and privatizing the VA healthcare system?
MOD: Darlene, one minute.
DM: Well, I certainly appreciate ah your service ah Bruce, number one. And it’s good to hear that we have good healthcare here. Ah my brothers were also part of our veterans, and one of them got his healthcare in St. Paul. And it was good too. But we hear about a lot of areas where it isn’t good. Or where there isn’t available healthcare through the vets. And I think we have to do a combination. We have to make sure that if it’s not available, they can go to private healthcare, or if they’re not being seen like they’re supposed to be, they have alternatives.
And that’s I think what we’re hearing from many areas. Where these people are standing in line forever or they’re not getting in to get their prescriptions filled, or whatever is needed. So in that case I’d favor them being allowed to go to public healthcare.
MOD: Jason, 30 seconds.
JL: Yeah, I I mean pursuant to the question and thanks for your service. I had two brothers in Vietnam, one of whom is now getting his healthcare in a serious way from the VA, and he gets good healthcare. But not everybody does. And part of the problem with the VA is it’s almost a precursor in some ways to what the president is trying to do. Their idea of giving free healthcare to everyone, in this case servicemen who certainly deserve it, is to penalize the providers and tell them to work for free. Or keep cutting provider payments, like they are in Medicare. And what you have and what you get, then, is rationing. You get less care for a growing number of people. So I would be in favor of allowing some form of a premium, health insurance premium, so folks that couldn’t get their healthcare at the VA could go to the private sector. Absolutely.
JH: Well Glen, you served with my brother Jeff. Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Howe, and and certainly I think we do need to take care of our veterans. I would not be in favor of of dismantling the Veterans Administration hospitals. I think the option, and like you’ve heard here before, is to give options, additional options to veterans if the travel is too far or if the care is not being what it wants. Or what’s needed. It gives them an option. And ah it provides some form of ah relief to someone who doesn’t feel they’re getting properly taken care of, because we should take care of all of our service veterans, and Bruce I appreciate your service.
MOD: Any other? Seeing no other rebut cards we will go on to the next question. This goes to John. Same rules apply. Ah since this is a critical issue in the ah in the district here, I’ll read the full question. Governor Dayton and Olmsted County favor a high-speed Zip rail passenger train between the Twin Cities and Rochester. This train could, if it is at grade level, cut CD2 in two and cause horrendous hardship to the residents in its path. And if it is an elevated bed, the cost will more than double, even triple.
According to proponents, this project is to be funded by private investors – would you believe communist China – ah, that’s part of the question – and no state or local public funds are to be used. However, the FRA will be involved, and if any federal funds are in play, the horrors of eminent domain may apply.
Ah will you oppose this project, and what can you do to keep the federal funds out of this project? John, one minute.
JH: Certainly I would not support the project and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that federal funds aren’t available for that project. Y’know one of the things that you hear from ah people that ah like government solutions to y’know problems is ah we’re gonna get federal dollars for that. Well you maybe get federal dollars for the creation, but not for the operation, for the continued operation. And y’know. I mean to say this off the top here but y’know if you look at the land acquisition or what it would take to build a Zip Rail or high-speed rail, you could probably provide bus service for a few hundred years just ah just in what the acquisition cost is gonna be. So I don’t think there’s a demonstrated need here ah again it’s a y’know it’s a solution in search of a problem and ah I would not support it.
JL: Y’know I fought really hard against the AWA Goodhue Wind Power Farm with my column in the Star Tribune, on my radio program, and thanks to the people down here, who actually did the hard work, we stopped that for now. The same is true here. I mean what’s 4.2 billion among friends, right? (laughter) That’s supposedly the cost not to mention the E5 visas where we hand out green cards like candy to anybody who throws in some money, and there’s been a number of scandals there.
Part of the problem is, when it comes to transportation at the federal level, is we’ve adopted this mass transit account in the Highway Trust Fund. And that’s where your federal gas tax dollars are going, being siphoned off for these rail projects. And that’s why we keep they keep saying “We’ve gotta raise taxes” but we don’t build roads.
DM: I would definitely ah oppose this Zip line. Again it’s a government oversight, a government deciding what we should do in this community rather than letting the people of the state or the county or the communities decide what’s best for them. Instead of putting that money into a Zip rail, what about our bridges and our roads. And our other infrastructure that needs to be improved. We need to get government to stop deciding in D.C. what needs to happen here.
MOD: Gene, 30 seconds.
GR: Ah we need to go ahead with the superhighway system, not a Zip Rail. We need to double the lanes on 494, 694. We need to have a ah superhighway system going from major city to major city across this country. And we better do it quick because time is money, and the people’s money is ah going basically nowhere. And going ah in the negative when you have to sit and sit in ah freeways that aren’t even moving.
DG: Transportation is inherently local and we need to get the federal government out of transportation, and there’s a conservative bill out there that does just that. It’s called the Transportation Empowerment Act. What it does is it lowers gasoline taxes from 19.3 cents to 2.9 cents over time, and transfers responsibility back to the states where it belongs. We need to get behind these true conservative solutions and move back to local control and ensure that we follow the Tenth Amendment.
MOD: Pam, 30 seconds.
PM: Thank you. Gas taxes are collected on people who drive cars and trucks. And those taxes, those revenues, should be used to build roads and bridges. Not transit.
DG: Well, there’s one key to that before you can do anything. And that is to get food stamps out of the Farm Bill. Until you do that, you cannot have a discussion about true reform or any kind of discussion about how to make any kind of reforms to farm policy. So the first thing is we have to eliminate that from the discussion, it needs to be talked about on its own.
And when I go around our district and talk about our farmers, they are overwhelmed by the federal involvement in their farms. And we need to talk about how we’re going to get the federal government out of every aspect of farming.
MOD: Darlene, 30 seconds.
DM: Well I agree, the Farm Act ah was just implemented again in 2014, but when 80% of it does not involve farmers, there’s a problem. We need to make the Farm Act the Farm Act. Not, like you said (to DG) part of the SNAP Act or the Food Stamp Act.
MOD: Gene, 30 seconds.
GR: Well, one thing about that is the shipping. Ah I believe the exports going out of this country ah I believe the unions and the union shipping ah has to be I think 50% of it. I’m not positive on this, has to be our own ships, at union prices, and if another country wants to use their own ships, they can’t do that, so the farmer is in a catch-22 between ah shipping and selling their product to other countries as exports. Another thing is a strong dollar!
JL: Y’know the 2014 Farm Bill is about 956 billion dollars made up of crop insurance, commodities price supports, and primarily food stamps, over 730 billion dollars. We just need to reduce food stamps! We’ve got 600,000 Minnesotans on food stamps! Fifty million Americans! It’s been skyrocketing under this president. That’s what we need to do to help reduce the overall cost.
And I would add one more thing. Someone who’s who’s ah y’know wealthy, well off, ah doesn’t need a farm subsidy, someone who doesn’t farm full time for instance, they ought not get a commodity support or a farm subsidy either.
JH: Well certainly I don’t think our government should be in the process of pickin winners and losers. I I’m a person that actually grew up on a farm. And know what it’s like to combine a field and haul corn to the to the elevator. So ah y’know farmers feed America, I I don’t think farmers get ah certainly the the respect that they deserve ah and I think we need to have a market-based we need I I think that ah we need to shift from that, food stamps certainly are an area that we need to look at.
MOD: Okay, we’re gonna go on to the next question. David, you had your rebut card up?
DG: Oh, I’m sorry.
MOD: Okay, the next question will come from the student again, Matt, and Jeff will ah introduce the question the same rules apply, and the question will go to Gene for one minute.
MOD2: Yeah, Matt’s a rockstar apparently in Ms. Loeschke’s class, right? So he has a question about college tuition costs.
MB: What are your plans for rising tuition costs? How can they be made more affordable?
GR: Well first of all we have to ah ah look at ah the tuitions in light of paying off the loans, the student loans, that ah students take on. And and it’s getting ah I believe a bad rap. Ah the student loans is because um there are students that aren’t doing too good in college or don’t take college seriously. And ah and so what happens is they don’t pay off their student loans, they ah I heard of one case where y’know a student dies and obviously they can’t pay it off, because of suicide and stress and so on, so it’s a very complicated thing. Ah that that the ah student loans need to be fair. Ah and and I believe they need to be used wisely. Um. (Inaudible).
MOD: Jason, 30 seconds.
JL: Y’know, you look at the Democratic response to this and it’s almost classic. College tuition has gone up faster than fuel, than gasoline, than groceries, than even healthcare in the last 30 years. It’s the single fastest growing cost to mid to middle-income families, and even higher-income families. So naturally, what do our Democratic friends propose? “Well, let’s subsidize it. Let’s take the student debt bubble of a trillion dollars, and have the government pay it down.” Now we’ve gone down this road where we’ve had these trillion-dollar bubbles before, and Wall Street slices and dices them, we subsidize it, and then they go bust.
We are doing a massive disservice to young people by telling them they absolutely have to go to a four-year liberal arts school that costs $25,000 a year, to get a degree in sociology and then come out with a debt of $200,000 that they can’t service. We need to focus on trade schools, and some other vo-tech schools and have people do some real jobs sometimes as well.
MOD: That went a little over, but okay. Pam. Thirty seconds.
PM: Thank you. The best thing we can do about college tuition is have really great jobs for students once they graduate. More government involvement in colleges is what has caused all these tuitions to go up so high. But to have a job once you get out, and to be able to put your college education to use, rather than work at a pizza shop or at a Starbucks. But to be able to actually get a great job. And how can we do that? By government getting out of the way and reducing all the regulation that we have on our businesses. So encourage the creation of new jobs.
MO: Darlene, 30 seconds.
DM: I think we need to make our schools accountable for what they teach to make sure there’s real jobs available for when they get out of school. And again, this becomes ah a state, a local issue, not a federal government issue. I worked with ah Dunwoody College of Technology and another school to create a program called Right Skills Now. And those people are employed in manufacturing in high-paying sector high-paying manufacturing jobs. Again it’s business working locally with the schools.
MOD: Ah John.
JH: Well you know. One thing that’s in our mandate to do is, is to fund the University of Minnesota. That is ah a land grant university. Ah one of the things the legislative body tries to do when we fund higher education is we put limiters in there. We always get accused of y’know not fully funding higher ed or or whathaveyou, but you put limits to how much they can increase tuition when you’re doing these funding formulas. And ah it is a difficult equation.
Y’know when I went to college y’know it was less expensive but ah y’know I I had to work three jobs to pay it off. And I’m very proud that one of the first things I did when I started working fulltime was to pay off my student loan.
MOD: And David.
DG: Y’know education used to be sacred here in America. And now unfortunately there are many cartels that are involved. And one thing that would directly lower the cost of higher education is to break up the accreditation cartels.
MOD: Okay; seeing no other rebut cards that haven’t already spoken? (laughter) We’ll go on to our last question. Before your final comments, and it has to do with Planned Parenthood and abortion. Ah abortions make up only 3% of the services performed by Planned Parenthood. The agency’s main services include providing contraceptives, pap tests, breast exams, test and treatment for STDs. And sexual education for men, women and teens. Will you move to defund Planned Parenthood solely based on the abortion aspect of their services? This question goes to Pam, one minute.
PM: I am prolife, and I respect life from conception to natural death. And I have been appalled, as many of the people in the Second Congressional District, by the revelations that happened last fall. And yes, I would move to defund this private organization, ah Planned Parenthood.
MOD: David, 30 seconds.
DG: Planned Parenthood illegally and immorally harvested baby parts. There is no way that I would allow taxpayer funds to go to this private organization.
MOD: Jason, 30 seconds.
JL: Yeah, Planned Parenthood says “Well, we don’t take government money to fund abortions,” but of course money is fungible, they take the government money to fund all these other things you mention, so they can perform more abortions. Of course you defund Planned Parenthood. It’s 500 million dollars that can go to another women’s health group if need be who can provide services without those horrific harvesting of body parts.
MOD: Darlene, 30 seconds.
DM: I’m definitely prolife and would defund Planned Parenthood and agree, those funds can need to be there for women, but not in conjunction with abortions.
MOD: Gene, 30 seconds.
GR: I believe we need to go on the offense here and ah define I think, Congress should finally take it upon themselves because the federal courts can’t seem to know how to do it or when to do it. Is when does life begin. And I believe ah Congress needs to decide when life begins.
MOD: John, 30 seconds.
JH: I’ve been on record, I am prolife, and ah I hope that people do check out people’s records because y’know Jason Lewis is now running in Minnesota CD2 and he wants to say that he’s considered prolife. Well he ran before in CD2 in Colorado, and ah he suggested that most people would consider him prochoice. And so ah y’know I think you need to find out where people’s records really are.
MOD: Okay, I’ve just been informed that we do have time for one more question, so the last comment that it was the last question was just a tease. Okay? And this question will go to Darlene Miller. You have one minute. Ah and the question is, how would you deal with the over 11 million illegal immigrants presently in the U.S.? What steps would you support to deal with the illegal alien immigration problem in America going forward from this point?
MOD: One minute
DM: first of all, we have to get our system in place for the legal immigrants that are here, so that we can get a better process and a faster process. But as far as the 11 million illegal people that are here, we need to put them at the back of the line they need to pay a fine, they may need to pay back taxes, and then we need to vet them properly before we’d ever consider even starting ah to work with them to stay here.
MOD: Seeing no other rebut c- oh. Pam, 30 seconds.
PM: You were so quick, I’m sorry! (laughs) Ah the first thing that we need to do is we need to secure our borders. And stop the inflow of illegal al- immigrants. And we also ah we need to revise our our visa system and ah there are about 40% of the people here illegally are actually ah they came here legally in the first place. And so we need to revise our our system.
And we also, of the 11 million, which Darlene didn’t say, we need to we need to deport those who are right away the priority of those that are violent. And deport them right away.
MOD: John, 30 seconds.
JH: You can’t reward people for breaking the law. And certainly they need to go to the back of the line. And we need to make sure that they are follow the rules and and ah and if if people are breaking our laws, they need to be deported.
MOD: Seeing no other rebut cards, ah we will move to closing statements. Ah you will have three minutes for your closing statement, and we’ll go in the order that was drawn randomly, ah first ah would be John, with three minutes for your
JH: No actually, I’m gonna I opened so I get to close last.
Off camera: Reverse order.
JH: It’s a reverse order.
MOD: Oh. Okay.
JH: Thank you.
MOD: All right. Thank you. Ah then we’ll start with Darlene. Three minutes.
DM: Well again, thank you for having me here today. I appreciate all the questions, I wish we had more time to go through all the issues. Y’know policy really really does matter. And right now, here, we are at the lowest rate of new startup businesses ever. And this is due to government overregulation. Y’know we need to encourage anyone who has a dream to start a new business, even if they’re it’s in their garage, to help them, and then when they grow up, make sure they stay here in America, do everything we can. This problem is gonna hurt us for decades and decades to go on.
I am a true Second District person, have lived here forever, ah and truly believe I know the people in the Second District. My family lives here, my business is here, and I’ve listened to a lot of the people and I know their hopes and fears and their dreams. As I said, the economic fear, the fear of ISIS, all of that is real, and we need to go to Congress and make a difference, stop government overregulation, stop the talk and do meaningful policy. It’s not about just being there without creating a solution.
And I truly believe that when I win in November, I can go there and make a difference with my business experience. I know how to listen. I know how to implement. And I know how to balance a budget. I’ve done it for 20-plus years. And in my business. And it’s the same in D.C. We nee people who are willing to step up and act and really be a part of every persons here.
Life. Life. It it really takes someone who is just like every one of you to make a difference in Washington D.C., and I can be that person. Thank you.
MOD: Pam, three minutes, closing statement.
PM: Again, thank you so much for having us here tonight, it’s been wonderful. I have been calling hundreds of people. And I think as I’ve gone through the room, I have talked to many of you. And one of the things that people have said is “I just don’t trust politicians or candidates. It’s just a lot of talk. They never do what they say.” But I’ve also been honored, blessed and privileged to hear so many of you say, “I trust you, Pam. Because you do what you say. You are trustworthy.”
They know my background. They know my experience. I’m a certified public accountant, I’ve worked for many years at KPMG, an international public accounting firm. I’m a former two-term state representative with a strong conservative and prolife voting record. I have scorecard ratings from, hundred percent from the Taxpayers League. Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. The Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. An “A” rating from the NRA. And the Elected Woman of Excellence Award from the National Foundation for Women Legislators.
As I served in the legislature, I had four bills that were unanimously passed. I know how to make government work for us. To get the job done.
In my first election, I ran against a strong Democrat incumbent. Who had won 56% of the vote in the previous election. It was a three-party or three-person race. And I defeated both of those gentlemen with over 50% of the vote. In my re-election, it was a really bad year for Republicans, and many lost their seats. But I won with a strong margin. I’ve been proven to be electable. I am trusted, experienced, and proven to be electable.
I’m not gonna sugar-coat this. As conservatives, we must, we must hang onto this seat. In Republican hands. And we can’t talk our way to victory. We can’t buy our way to victory. We need a person who is trusted, experienced, and a proven provenly electable. And I’m that person. Thank you.
MOD: Jason, three minutes.
JL: Y’know, for over 20 years, I’ve been with you fighting the good fight. Back in 1998, when there was a billion-dollar bonding bill, and size does matter, we went to the Capitol and started our tax rallies, our against bonding bill rallies, because it was bankrupting the state. I’ve been out there every step of the way.
When I was working to help Michele Bachmann get elected. When I was doing all of the things on the radio that you’ve known — that you now know. I was there. I was the conservative, the consistent conservative, who was there. That’s what you want in somebody in Congress. Somebody that you can count on. And that’s why we’ve got more legislative endorsements than anybody else. That’s why Michele Bachmann asked me to introduce her when she announced for president in 2011. That’s why Steve Drazkowski’s endorsed this campaign. Dan Hall. Dave Thompson. That’s why we’ve got over 750 donors in this district, 90% of them, I should say, are from the Second District. Seven hundred and fifty donors. More than anyone. So I’m glad to come to come here to represent the Second District for you, and do what needs to be done in Washington.
There’s a lot of talk about grassroots. We are the grassroots. You and me. We are the fight against the establishment. So I want you to join me. In the endorsement effort and help get things done.
Y’know John mentions the life question. Twenty-six years ago, I told somebody “I believe life begins when the heartbeat begins.” And somebody said, “Oh, you must be prochoice. That must be it.” And he’s running off with that. Y’know when I met my wife Leigh, she was making calls for Birthright. When I wrote my book, I argued why Roe v. Wade was horrible, unconscionable, constitutional law. I have done more radio shows on the life issue than anybody could possibly imagine. With MCCL and others.
So please. Let’s get back to the real issues at hand, on what we disagree with, like stadium subsidies, big bonding bills, Common Core, and taking pay as a government employee when the government shuts down while state people are going without theirs. I’d like to see somebody on this panel address those issues.
But look. The bottom line is this. I’m not gonna promise you anything but two things. One, I will not be a Congressman who brings home the pork. I’m gonna fight it. And two, I I am going to take the fight to the opponent in the fall, because we need a conservative in the Second District who can win, and I’m gonna be the one. Thank you very much.
MOD: Gene, three minutes, closing comments.
GR: Well I believe health is very important. Ah I think GMO is ah out of control. That is generic modification of genes. One example is the Zika virus down in Brazil. And ah y’know what the people aren’t being told about the Zika virus Zika virus is that this mosquito ah didn’t just happen on its own. It is a generic modified mosquito that they thought would be good to create a male mosquito that would ah breed with the female mosquitoes and then the mosquitoes are supposed to die. But that didn’t happen. There’s tetracycline used a lot in Brazil in cat food, in animal foods and so on.
So these mosquitoes have ah used this tetracycline to stay alive and when they sting ah human beings, the human beings are getting Zika virus where pregnant women are giving birth to babies that have a small head.
Ah GMO is having worse effects upon the people and we need to stop this because believe it or not, Florida is talking about releasing these same mosquitoes to fight other mosquitoes and so it could come to America here. And I believe that is important. GMO. I think Monsanto is out of control. Ah corn, soybeans, GMO! I believe we need to label ah what foods are GMO.
This is about freedom! People have a right to know what they’re eating. They have a right to know what’s in their food and they have a right to know if the food was raised free range or not.
Privacy ah I believe ah people have a right to be forgotten. When they’re surfing the Web, they have a right to be forgotten. Economy, 12% flat tax with consideration of a fair tax over a three-year period. Security, Israel first. We need to ah get back to the policies back in 1967, where Israel can do better than we can in taking care of the Middle East. I believe ah that’s most important, and I believe the Republican Party needs to look in the mirror and start to use a proportional election of delegates.
MOD: David, closing comments.
DG: I am David Gerson, and you know me because I have been fighting alongside you in the trenches for three years. You know me because you’ve come to one of my dozens of town hall meetings and you’ve looked me in the eyes, and you’ve asked me the difficult questions. You know me because you’ve heard me on Up and At ‘Em, explaining how the Republicans should have defunded Planned Parenthood and forced Obama to justify why he shut down the government. You know me because you’ve heard me on At Issue with Tom Hauser define our true opponent, the Washington cartel. You know that my cause is building this grassroots movement because Washington is only gonna change from pressure from the outside, when the people stand up and hold their representative accountable.
You have seen me fight the fight that no one else will fight. You have heard me speak the difficult truths that needed to be said. And what I am most proud of, over this three-year journey, is I have earned the trust of this community. And together, we are setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men across this district. And we are gonna inspire this nation with what a group of concerned citizens can accomplish.
I am David Gerson, and I am going to Congress to represent us. We the people no longer accept the status quo. We have stood up against the Goliaths in Washington, and we are going to take our country back.
MOD: John: closing comments, three minutes.
JH: Well, thank you all for being here, and y’know I I just met Gene tonight, I’m glad he wasn’t Sam Kinison and I didn’t hear a bunch of screaming, ah y’know, I hope this election comes down to integrity and character. Y’know, I know Jason likes to attack me, that’s great. Ah y’know when we had the government shutdown, I donated my paychecks to the the food shelves. In Wabasha County, Goodhue County, and Winona County. The counties that I represented. And I can show the cancelled checks. But y’know, it’s one thing to say something and do another. Y’know Jason walked off his radio show, treated everybody like they’re unintelligent, said “I’m out of the system. I’m no longer gonna participate.” Well now he’s back looking for a job. Y’know and he says he does all these things for Republican caucus er causes, it’s because he lines his back pocket. If he really wanted to help the Republican Party, maybe he should run against Betty McCollum in his own district instead of carpetbagging in this district. I’m gonna tell ya, that’s gonna be a huge general election liability for our for our CD. We can’t afford to put that at risk.
Y’know Thomas Jefferson wrote that the care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, shall be the first and only object of good government. Let me repeat that. The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, shall be the first and only object of good government. Now, I have a record of reducing taxes, I have a record to stand on. I’m very passionate about the debt issue. I think it’s gonna pull our country underwater if we don’t address it. I’m sincere about that effort.
Y’know, most of my life has been spent building a business and raising a family. That’s my greatest accomplishment. I encourage you to go to my Web site, howeforcongress.com. You can shorten it up and just go to johnhowe.us. But I need your support. We need to put forth the most electable conservative in CD2. I am that person. I’m gonna work very hard to win your endorsement. If I haven’t called you yet, I will be calling you. And if you don’t want to wait for that call, you can call me. My number is 651-278-4693. Thank you so much for comin here tonight. Be safe on your way home, and God bless America.
MOD: Okay, with that, that concludes our debate for this evening. We had other excellent questions on the tax code and a number of other issues; unfortunately due to time, we weren’t able to get to ‘em. I’m sure the candidates, if you have a specific question, will be glad to visit with you and answer those questions, and at this point I’ll turn it back over to Jeff.
MOD2: Sure. First off, I wanna thank all the candidates for coming, let’s give ‘em a round of applause. (audience applauds) I wanna thank all of you for coming tonight ah that means a lot to us. We didn’t really know what to expect when we started this little venture out, we didn’t know if we’d have five people show up (audience applauds), the same few that showed up, but at the BTOU meetings, ah but it it means a lot to us that you all ventured out here.
Ah I wanna thank Glen a lot for ah moderating the debate. We kinda threw him out to the wind a little bit. I think he did a good job. And ah (audience applauds) Emily, thank you too. Ah we gotta vacate outta here but hopefully the candidates will stick around out by their tables here for a little bit and ah if you’ve got some questions for ‘em, I just
(Audience member raises papers)
MOD2: Oh, the ballots. (Inaudible from audience) Right. Everybody should have gotten one of these. Ah David Benson-Staebler is was not here tonight, obviously, so if you want to write Gene’s name in there instead, there’s a bucket on a table where you walked in, if you would please drop them in there, we’re gonna tabulate the results and we’re gonna post them on the Goodhue County ah Republican Web site. That’s G-C-G-O-P.US. Ah I don’t know if we’ll get it done tonight, but maybe tomorrow or so we’ll have those results posted.