Final CD2 Debate: Jason Lewis Vs. Angie Craig On KSTP-TV – Full Debate Transcript And Video

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Congressional Candidates Jason Lewis and Angie Craig

Congressional Candidates Jason Lewis and Angie Craig

The two major party candidates for Minnesota’s only open congressional seat held their final debate on KSTP-TV Sunday night. Angie Craig (DFL) and Jason Lewis (R) spent 30 minutes covering much of the same ground they have in their previous two meetings. KSTP-TV’s Leah McLean asked the two about taxes, including Lewis’ flat tax proposal, funding Medicare and Social Security, terrorism and national security, immigration, gun violence, healthcare affordability, long-term transportation funding, and bipartisanship in Congress.

Early in the debate McLean accidentally called Craig “Miss Lewis” drawing a laugh from both candidates and an immediate apology from McLean.

Transcript and video

Transcript by Susan Maricle

LEAH McLEAN: Good evening everyone, and thank you for joining us for this 5 Eyewitness News Vote 2016 special. I’m Leah McLean. Tonight we are bringing you live, commercial free, debates in two of Minnesota’s hotly contested congressional races. Later in the program you’re gonna hear from Third District candidates Terri Bonoff and Representative Erik Paulsen. First, though, we want to start in Minnesota’s Second District. Where political newcomers, Angie Craig and Jason Lewis, are vying for a rare open seat in Congress.

Minnesota’s Second District stretches from the south metro, into parts of southern Minnesota. It includes Eagan, Burnsville, Lakeville, and Red Wing. The district’s economy includes a mix of agriculture, small business, and big companies. Republican John Kline has represented the Second District since 2003. He announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election, leaving a highly coveted seat in Congress up for grabs. This is the first run for public office in Minnesota for both candidates. Democrat Angie Craig is a former St. Jude Medical executive, while Republican Jason Lewis is a former conservative talk radio host.

And we are joined now by Second District candidates. We have Angie Craig and Jason Lewis here with us tonight. Thank you both for coming in and being part of this debate. We’re really gonna have more of a discussion tonight. So we really want to get a lot of those topics out there. Ah we talked about doing an open statement opening statement, Mr. Lewis, you won the coin toss, so please start off.

JASON LEWIS: Thank you Leah, thanks to KSTP for doing this, thanks for everybody for watching. And Angie, good to see you. You know, you and I have had a great conversation over the last couple of decades, and we’ve had a number of serious points discussed. That’s what this election is about. But for those of you that didn’t listen to my radio program, or perhaps don’t know me as well, let me tell ya about myself.

I grew up in a small business family. And we had to make certain that we make the balance budget. Or the budget balance, I should say. And we had to make certain that we met the payroll and did all the things that a small business in the Second District had to do. Now, we also understood the power of government. Because our family business was taken by eminent domain procedure. That means I had to find a second career. A second opportunity, and I found one in broadcasting. And it worked very well for me. But I worry whether these opportunities are gonna be there for other people: my daughters, everybody’s kids, that’s what this campaign is about.

If you like things the way they are, high taxes, imploding healthcare, overregulation and borders that are open, well, there’s a status quo candidate in this race. But it’s not me. If you want change, and I mean real change, a flatter, fairer tax code, overregulation gone, healthcare that’s affordable and portable, and a federal government that does its first job: of securing who gets in the country and who doesn’t. Well, I’m your guy. That’s what this race is about. It’s about positions on issues. It’s about changing Congress one district at a time, starting with the Second. And most importantly, it’s about securing the American dream for our kids, my daughters, your children, everybody in America. A rising tide lifting all boats. I’m Jason Lewis. And I need your vote on November 8th. And we can change Congress one district at a time.

McLEAN: Mr. Lewis, thank you. Ms. Craig?

ANGIE CRAIG: Thank you so much. I grew up in a trailer park. I had a mom who raised three kids, mostly all on her own, while working 10 years to go to college and finally earned her college degree. My mom was a great example. I know how hard families will work on behalf of their kids to give them a better life in this country. And I wanna run for Congress, I’m running because I believe that every family in this country deserves a fair shot. If you’re willing to earn it and work hard.

I’ve been incredibly lucky. I made my way in business, and for the last 10 years, I’ve served on the executive team at St. Jude Medical. For those 10 years, I have also served our community. My wife and I live in Eagan and we have four sons. I’ve made it a priority to grow jobs in the economy. I’ve said that I would prioritize high-quality public education and more affordable college. I’ll protect our seniors, I’ll strengthen Medicare, and I’ll make sure that we finally tackle the high cost of prescription drugs.

Finally, it’s it’ll be a high priority for me, to keep our nation safe. This race in the Second Congressional District, it absolutely has two very different candidates. I will go to Congress and work on a bipartisan basis to find common ground. There are enough people in Washington today who are yelling. We need more people who are willing to work together. I’m Angie Craig, and I humbly ask for your vote on Election Day.

McLEAN: Thank you Ms. Craig, thank you both for your opening statements. Um you both told us a little something about yourselves just now. Ah but let’s talk a little bit more about your backgrounds. Neither one of you has held public office before, you’re both newcomers, ah no voting record to run on. So ah Ms. Craig, we’ll start with you. How has your background really shaped your policies, your positions, ah and how you want focus your campaign?

CRAIG: Well Leah, thank you. So I’ve spent 22 years in the private sector. Ah growing a business, creating jobs, and delivering results. And I think we need more people from the private sector to step up and say, “I’d like to serve this country.” That’s gonna inform my policy priorities, growing the economy is very important to me. Ensuring that we are creating middle-class jobs up and down. Making the R&D tax credit permanent. Bringing back foreign income, so that we can invest it in the United States, in infrastructure and transportation. Making sure that we have the work skills in our local communities for the jobs we actually have. That’s what I did at St. Jude Medical, when I had responsibility for 16,000 employees in about a hundred countries. And I would take that experience to Congress and help create these jobs across Minnesota.

McLEAN: And Mr. Lewis, do you, how was your background prepared you for this run in Congress?

LEWIS: Sure, I spent 40 years in the private sector; that’s a long time, first in a family business, and then as I say, the government built a freeway through our building, we had to go through condemnation. And I had to find another career. And that is the experience of most people in this economy. And the key here is making certain that American dream, that opportunity to find that second or third career, is still available. But it isn’t when we’re only growing at 1%. So I had those opportunities. And I had a chance to make certain that I could realize the American dream, and I’m very grateful for that. I wanna make certain everybody’s children, and everybody in the Second District, has that opportunity. But you can’t do it when healthcare costs are going up 50% last year, 66% this year. You can’t do it with an overly complicated tax code that taxes income a different way for different people. And some people get out from under it, and some people don’t. You can’t do it with this onslaught of regulation, and and that’s what this race is all about, really, the positions.

McLEAN: Ah let’s talk more about the issue of taxes right now. Y’know taxes are a big issue, we hear a lot about pushes for making the wealthy pay their fair share, ah calls for reforming the tax code, ah Mr. Lewis, you’ve called for a flat tax.


McLEAN: What do you think is the best tax policy, specifically to help the people in the Second District?

LEWIS: A tax policy where everybody pays at lower rates, instead of a few of us paying very high rates, and then the politically connected getting out from under that. I mean you’ve got a situation where a couple of years ago, some of the biggest corporations in America, General Electric, didn’t pay any tax. You’ve got hedge fund managers not paying ordinary income taxes on carried interest. You have a whole host of loopholes in this current code. And unfortunately, the people who who like the special interests like this tax code. Because they know as high as it can go, and for a small pass-through business, subchapter S, LLC in the Second District, their rates can go as high as 42, 43%. And that doesn’t include self employment tax. But you know what? If you’ve got connections, you can get out from under that. And that’s the problem. I’d rather have a lower, flatter tax where everybody has skin in the game. And a rising tide lifting all boats when when everybody has an equal playing field.

McLEAN: And Ms. Lewis (sic), what would you think would be the best tax policy, then for the Second District?

CRAIG: Well, I I’m Ms. Craig, I’m not married to him.

McLEAN: I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

CRAIG: That’s all right. That’s all right. (McLEAN laughs) So

LEWIS: That’d be an interesting relationship.

CRAIG: Yeah, that’d be interesting!

McLEAN: We’ve just made this a lot more interesting, yes.

CRAIG: Yeah, a lot of fun at home, right.

McLEAN: I do apologize.

CRAIG: Yeah. Ah, so, absolutely. I I think that ah y’know the flat tax that Jason talks about, economists have said it would ah cost in additional deficit to the country of about 3.6 trillion dollars. So I don’t think that it’s reasonable. And in fact, it would lower taxes for the wealthy, and we would lose mortgage interest deductions, income earned income tax credit, charitable deductions, so I do think that those ah of us who have been ah that American dream has been more fully fulfilled, should pay more. And I would work to make sure that we don’t raise taxes on the middle class.

LEWIS: But — Angie, the problem is, you’re a perfect example of what happens when you’ve got connected people with the current tax sys situation, when you lobby to get Obamacare to come to Minnesota, and you lobby to get that here, then you lobby to get your industry and your company exempt from that tax! The rest of us had to pick up that tab. That’s the problem with the current code. It does very well for people who can hire lobbyists; it doesn’t do well for the rest of us.

CRAIG: Well, and the flat tax, what it would do is it would cut taxes for the upper income levels, and for the middle class it would actually raise taxes. Because you would lose all your tax tax deductions. So ah I know – Jason is at

LEWIS: Angie, that’s a personal exemption up to 30 or $40,000, that would handle that quite easily.

CRAIG: (unclear)

LEWIS: I don’t know why anyone seriously is opposed to a flat tax for everybody at the same rate.


LEWIS: What’s the problem with that?

CRAIG: Well economists have said it’s unreasonable, and that we actually couldn’t pay our bills with the flat tax. So, If you’re advocating for a flat tax, what you’re advocating for is reducing Social Security benefits, raising the retirement age, I will never ever cut Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age. I don’t think that’s what our seniors deserve.

McLEAN: Well, let’s get into Medicare and Social Security right now, then. Ah you know (laughs) a lot of talk about how they could run dangerously short in the coming years, benefits may not be as available for people in the future as they have been. So what is your plan, then, what is your plan, and Ms. Craig, we will start with you this time. What is your plan to keep Medicare and Social Security available for for future generations?

CRAIG: Well, I think we’re gonna have to come back to what we did in 1983, ah when President Reagan was in office, and Tip O’Neill was in the House, we need members of Congress who are willing to sit down and come up with bipar a bipartisan set of solutions to make sure that we can sustain the Social Security Trust Fund beyond the 19 years. Part of those ideas may include ah raising the cap – y’know, if you make $250,000 or more a year, you may have to continue to pay into Social Security to make it more sustainable.

But what I won’t do is cut benefits. Or, raise the retirement age. My own family, my own parents are a great example of this. Ah my dad sells cars. Ah y’know he pounds the pavement. He’s 65 years old, he’s almost to retirement, there are jobs in this country where we just can’t expect people to keep working past age 65. And I think we owe our seniors the dignity and respect not to reduce them to poverty in retirement.

LEWIS: Well first of all, the flat income tax has nothing to do with the solvency of Social Security or Medicare. They’re financed by payroll taxes, FICA taxes. So that argument just doesn’t hold water. But look – the reason I’m in favor of tax reform is because we’ve gotta get this economy growing faster than 1% in order to make certain more people are employed, and more people are working, paying into that payroll tax, which would shore up the Medicare and the Social Security Trust Funds. Now in the last debate I had with Angie, she refused to rule out cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But she did say she wanted a payroll tax hike, which is going to depress the economy even further, which is the last thing we need to keep these trust funds solvent.

CRAIG: Well, that’s not true. But besides the point, Leah, I’ll just say, I I think Jason’s right on this one point, we gotta get the ecr economy growing faster. And I think a member of Congress who’s actually helped grow a Fortune 500 business, who understands small business and that regulation must be balanced, I think that’s a good balance for a member of Congress.

McLEAN: Ah let’s move on, and talk now ah about terrorism. And national security. Another issue that we know is important to people in your district, around the country. Here in Minnesota, we have concerns about ISIS-inspired attacks and lone wolves. Ah in St. Cloud, 10 people were stabbed at a mall and hurt. Several Minnesotans have left, or have tried to leave to join ISIS. So ah my question to you, Mr. Lewis, first here, what do you think needs to be done on a federal level to put a stop to attacks that are happening at home, and attacks that are happening abroad?

LEWIS: Well, this is personal for me. No parent, such as my wife Leigh and me, should ever wake up on a Sunday morning with a text from their daughter in St. Cloud, saying, “Mom and Dad, I’m okay.” Ah and that’s what happened to us. And it’s a horrible thing. We have got to do something because Minnesota’s now the number one state for terrorist recruitment. We have a refugee crisis in Minnesota. So we can have these great discussions over geopolitics abroad; I I don’t believe in Hillary Clinton and going into Egypt and redoing that, then going into Libya and leaving a vacuum there, and now she wants to take us into Syria. But we can have discussions and disagreements about that. But the one thing we can do is make certain the federal government does its primary job and secures the border, and we don’t take in dangerous Syrian refugees! That Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said, infused with ISIS, German intelligence said, infused with ISIS, and yet this administration took in 10,000 this year, they wanna take in another 110,000 next year, Angie Craig is totally on board with this, and I don’t think it’s a good idea. Especially when, from the Wikileaks emails, Hillary Clinton said and admitted, “Look, these Syrian refugees aren’t vettable.” And the reason they’re not vettable, Leah, is because who do you talk to in Syria? In order to vet a refugee coming in, you have to have a counterpart that has I.D. documents. They don’t have any idea over there. So the idea that Angie and and of course Hillary said, she wanted open borders in her private conversations, which support more refugees is a is a misguided idea when it comes to keeping Minnesotans safe.

McLEAN: Ah Ms. Craig, your response.

CRAIG: Yeah – so there is no such thing as an unvettable Syrian refugee. We either completely are able to vet someone, biometric screenings over 18 months to two years, or we simply don’t let them in. It is absolutely the first job of the American Congress to make sure that the people of Minnesota and of this country stay safe.

But – this is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. And to think that 25 Syrian refugees, that’s how many we’ve let into Minnesota in 2006, mostly women and children, that we’re gonna turn our backs on them, to me is unthinkable. And the reason Jason is talking about this ah in this way is because ah he has a really tough history on issues of national security. I don’t believe closing our borders is going to stop homegrown terror attacks. We have, as a first foreign policy priority, we need to degrade and defeat ISIS. Where they are in Syria, in Iraq, that’s why I’ve said I will support the air strikes, the special operations, because I think the way we stop these homegrown terror attacks is twofold. We stop the ability for ISIS to recruit, and secondly, we support, and I’ve said openly, I’m gonna work to make sure that I’m actively looking for additional funding for U.S. Attorney Andy Luger and his efforts to counter violent extremism in the U.S. and in Minnesota.

McLEAN: Um a lot of issues of immigration coming up here. So I think that’s something ele we want to touch on. Ah does the U.S need more border control? We’re talking about Syrian refugees, we also have immigration, which has certainly become a big issue. Especially during this presidential campaign. Um and Ms. Craig, I think we’ll start with you here. What does the U.S. need – does it need border control, stronger border control, a wall?

CRAIG: Well, again, this is an area where Jason and I strongly disagree. It’s related to obviously, the refugee issue, but sequester cuts. Automatic, across-the-board funding cuts. Do not work. And we’ve had the State Department, ah we’ve had the Pentagon, we’ve had Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tell us that those sequester budget cuts will make the world a less safe place. And so we need to make sure that we are strongly, as a priority, funding our military efforts. And if we’re gonna cut, we need to figure out where to cut somewhere else.

LEWIS: I get a kick out of someone who’s supporting Hillary Clinton talking about foreign policy. When she went into Egypt, made a mess, they went into Libya, against the wishes of a number of people, made a total mess, these vacuums for ISIS, which are now in over 30 states, created by this administration, and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and a lot of people, myself included, thinks the coverup of the Libyan debacle is at the genesis of her server problems, which now of course the FBI has opened an investigation, or reopened the investigation, once again.

You’re not going to secure the homeland without securing the border. A nation without borders is no nation at all. That oughta be priority number one. Ah and the idea that the 2011 budget control caps would jeopardize anything is almost laughable, given the fact they amount to 2-1/2% of the entire federal budget. This is not a matter of spending, and I know liberals, the first thing is, always, we have to spend more. This is a matter of priority. And I am gonna look at the border as a priority. States can’t handle the fiscal load, from unlimited immigration, and this from a national security perspective, we’re seeing the ramifications right here in Minnesota.

McLEAN: Ah let’s move on to gun control. This is another issue, that of course comes and goes as a as a key issue, we saw several House and Senate members fighting to have votes on gun control bills, this summer after the mass shooting that happened in Orlando, ah other mass shootings throughout the years, we also see resistance to add more restrictions on guns, ah so Mr. Lewis, what is your stance on gun control versus gun rights?

LEWIS: Well, I believe in the Second Amendment, and I believe in Heller and McDonald. Ah the Heller decision, for the first time said that, indeed, ah having the right to protect yourself is an inherent individual right. I’m afraid if Hillary Clinton, who Angie supports, gets elected, the Second Amendment will be under siege. So I don’t support that. I believe in the inherent right of self defense.

I also don’t support ah federal registration of all firearms. I do support the background checks. When you go to a federal firearms dealer, FFL Form 4473, you go in there, you have to check, make certain everything is right, and then you can buy your gun. Ah that’s fine. But more gun control is not going to work. For instance, there’s a proposal to say anybody on a no-fly zone shouldn’t be able to buy firearms. Ted Kennedy was on a no-fly zone. Five times. Now I suppose some conservatives, y’know, are happy that Ted Kennedy didn’t have access. But. He wasn’t a terrorist. And so, the point is, you’re not gonna be able to do that by merely by having registration, and if you go to what Angie’s gonna talk about, private gun sales and all of that, you know what it is? It’s when your uncle gives you a .22, you have to check in with the federal government. That is handgun registration and I’m opposed to that.

McLEAN: And Ms. Craig?

CRAIG: Look, I think we absolutely ah have to protect the Second Amendment. My sons hunt, I have four boys, and I believe the Second Amendment is appropriate for hunting and for protection. On the other hand, the idea that we can’t have a background check for anyone who is purchasing a firearm doesn’t make any sense to me. It doesn’t make any sense to me, if you are on a no-fly list, that doesn’t mean you’re a suspect. It means we’re not going to let you get on an airplane. So if you can’t get on an airplane, I don’t think you should be able to buy a gun in this country.

What, what I believe is we need to ah support ah keeping guns out of the hands of felons. Out of the hands of the mentally ill. Out of domestic abusers. There is a CDC study that shows in states that require a background check for private gun sales, there’s a 38% reduction in partner-related shootings. There’s over 50% reduction in suicides with firearms. We can be for the Second Amendment and also support common-sense gun safety

LEWIS: And there are also numerous

CRAIG: in this country.

LEWIS: that show, also numerous studies that show that a background check would not have prevented any of the mass shootings that have occurred in America in the last 10 years.

McLEAN: Let’s move on to our next topic now. We’re gonna focus on healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, ah, y’know there’s debate over the prices going up right now, we’ve seen insurance rates in the individual market here in Minnesota up 67% for a lot of people, ah even Governor Dayton has said here that the Affordable Care Act has become unaffordable, it seems. Ah and we’re gonna start with Ms. Craig today. Ah what is your opinion on how it’s working, as it stands now, do you think that it needs to be changed, keep some parts, give us your opinion on what needs to happen.

CRAIG: Well, I’ve been saying for months that the individual marketplace in Minnesota is in trouble. And, now we see, it’s absolutely in trouble. It has become a real crisis point, and I I hope that state lawmakers can back to the Capitol here very very soon, and make sure that our ah communities are not impacted. Particularly, these are self-employed people who are impacted mostly. In the individual marketplace. And we’ve gotta find a way overall to make healthcare more affordable.

At the federal level, I think ah y’know there are many many things we can do, including ah really get after pharmaceutical drug prices in this country. Ah it makes no sense at all to me ah that pharma companies don’t have to negotiate with the federal government when there are 44 million Americans covered under Medicare. So I would move forward with that proposal. I would allow competition to be healthy in this country. By allowing reimportation of drugs from Canada. There’s a bill called the Safe and Affordable Care Drugs Act from Canada that I would support. And ah y’know we also have something happening in this nation, brand-name drug companies are paying off generic companies not to sell their generic drugs. So that they can continue to have a monopoly on the market. And, there are many reforms that need to happen to make healthcare more affordable in this country, and I think my background of 22 years in the private sector, in healthcare, is good.

The fact that I wanna fix what’s wrong with it – and not throw out the whole thing, which si what Jason proposes here, I wanna make sure we can keep our kids on our health plans to age 26. I wanna make sure that ah women aren’t paying more than men, that pre-existing conditions aren’t preventing us from getting health insurance, and this is ah – I grew up without health insurance in my family. So this is a very very personal topic to me.

McLEAN: And Mr. Lewis, do you repeal the whole thing? Or do you make changes to the Affordable Care Act?

LEWIS: No, you repeal most of it, and replace it with something better. And that’s the marketplace, if we allow it to flourish and get insurance companies to operate across state lines. So young people have choices of plans, if you remove the mandates, you reform the tax code, you allow high-risk pools, which were eliminated by the Affordable Care Act, you allow them for sole proprietors as well.

Understand, under the Affordable Care Act, you can’t deduct your out-of-pocket expenses until they hit 10% of your income. That was a hike under the Affordable Care Act. So if you have a couple of teachers in the Second District, making $40,000 apiece, they have to have $8,000 in out-of-pocket expenses before they can deduct them. Ah that is untenable. This thing is a disaster. Bill Clinton calls it craziest thing in the world, Mark Dayton, it’s unaffordable, yesterday the DFL, or the day before, the DFL chair here in Minneapolis, said “Well, the Democrats own this.” And I’ll tell ya something. Nobody owns it more than my opponent. No one did more to bring the Affordable Care Act to Minnesota than Angie Craig, when she was doling out campaign cash for politicians, 700,000’s worth, at the (unclear) PAC, to pass this bill, that has been a total disaster. She said she wanted to expand it, it didn’t go far enough, and now she’s backpedaling and I don’t blame her. It is a clear difference between Angie and myself.

McLEAN: And do you want to explain the PAC he’s talking about?

CRAIG: Yeah, let’s do that, because I worked for a Fortune 500 company, the company operated a political action committee, and also participated in ah industry organizations, just like every other Fortune 500 company would do. I served on the PAC Board, I was the only Democrat on the PAC Board, and most of those dollars that were given were actually given to Republicans. Look, I’ve taken the same position that Amy Klobuchar has. You can support healthcare reform and at the same time, think that a business tax is a bad tax on business when it impacts the economy. I opposed the tax, the business tax, it’s ironic that a Republican is attacking a Democrat now for opposing a business tax – ah I opposed it because I thought it was going to slow Minnesota’s economy and cost Minnesota jobs. And it did. And I’d oppose another tax that did that in the future.

LEWIS: This gets right to the crux of what’s the problem in Washington right now. I opposed the medical devices tax first because I didn’t support Obamacare. Angie did. She got it, and then she went to work, same lobbying mechanism, to repeal the tax on her company and her industry, and we had to pay it, but she didn’t. I opposed it before you opposed it! So that’s the key. You’ve got people on the inside that are doing very well in this economy, and the rest of us have to pay the tab. And that’s the problem.

CRAIG: Well, and that is the biggest difference between Jason and I. It’s all or nothing for Jason. Ah y’know you can’t be for something and working toward something else. And so, and I think that is the biggest difference.

LEWIS: Angie, you don’t think it’s fair, for one company to pay a tax – not pay the tax – and everybody else have to pay it?

CRAIG: I’m willing to look for common ground and I’m willing to look for compromise and bipartisan and be pragmatic about these things.

McLEAN: Should we talk about transportation now? (LEWIS laughs). We’ll get off the Affordable Care Act for a little bit. Ah it’s such a big issue, especially after the 35W bridge collapse, we’ve had a – we’ve seen the consequences of transportation infrastructure that is not tended to properly. So how big of a priority is long-term transportation funding in your view, and what ideas do you have to pay for some of these fixes? And I believe Mr. Lewis goes first this time.

LEWIS: Well, the Highway Trust Fund’s in a bad way. Even after the FAST Act was passed. It’s still relatively insolvent. Over the long term. So we have an 18.4 cent a gallon gas tax that goes into the Highway Trust Fund. But the problem is, much of that is being diverted. And it’s being diverted to non-highway uses. Ah 17 billion – or 17%, six billion dollars in one year recently, to go to things that aren’t building roads and bridges.

And I get a kick out of my Democratic friends who always say, “We have to we have to raise gas taxes or we have to build roads and bridges.” And then they immediately get to Washington and divert money to non-highway uses like the Southwest Light Rail Line, which I oppose. Ah a 14-1/2 mile, 1.9 billion dollars – that’s over a hundred million dollars per mile. Per mile! And that’s being diverted out of the Highway Trust Fund. I would work to stop that, right off the git-go.

McLEAN: And Ms. Craig, what is your, what is your big priority?

CRAIG: This is a huge part of my jobs in the economy idea. So I think we oughta let Fortune 500 companies, who sell their products outside the U.S., repatriate that corporate income back as long as they invest it in building. And I’d love to look at that fund, additional taxes collected on the way in, as a capital infrastructure investment program. Roads. Bridges. Highways. Dams. Rural broadband. That’s what’s needed in the Second Congressional District more than anything.

And I will say on the two areas that ah Jason just men mentioned with respect to transit, is, again, it shows Jason is all or nothing when it comes to transit. Ah I oppose the Zip Rail. I’d rather see that money invested in highways, roads and bridges. But. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, business leaders have said the southwest line is important for economic growth in the region. When you’re an ideologue, you can’t accept that it can be something in between.

LEWIS: (laughs) Let me – an ideologue would say that “Gosh, it’s a good idea to spend 2 billion dollars, over a hundred million dollars per mile, when you can build another freeway lane mile for 11 million dollars per mile.

CRAIG: And you know

LEWIS: That’s not kdeological, that’s common sense.

CRAIG: Ah Tom Weber already corrected you on that.

LEWIS: No, actually,

CRAIG: But we’ll let it go.

LEWIS: that’s not right.


LEWIS: And you know, I’m glad you came out, finally In support of Southwest Light Rail. Because I know that big business and big labor and big government likes that sort of thing.

CRAIG: (unclear)

LEWIS: But the the rest of us are paying the tab.

CRAIG: (unclear)

McLEAN: Well, we only have a few minutes left. So I want to end perhaps on a pleasant note here. Ah in talking about ah going to work in Washington. And trying to work together and get things done. Ah Ms. Craig, what would your plan be? To achieve some bipartisan cooperation, and do just that, get things done in Washington?

CRAIG: Yeah, I I think there are a number of different things we could work on. But the biggest thing is just being willing to form those relationships, and look for those common ground areas. Ah I think corporate tax reform is one area that we could work on together. I think infrastructure and investment is an area we can work on together. I believe if you’re lookin for common ground you can find it, and I certainly would work with the Minnesota delegation on a bipartisan basis. That’s my commitment to voters. If they support me.

McLEAN: Thank you, and real quickly as we wrap up, what is your commitment to

LEWIS: Well, it is somewhat ironic, somebody talking about common ground that spent 4 million dollars in the last few months from George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, the Progressive Caucus, NARAL, every left-wing group you can imagine, misleading the voters with these negative attacks, which independent observers have said were out of context and misleading, including this television station, so I don’t think that’s a good start in common ground, Angie.

Look, I’ve got a broad swath of support in the Republican Party. I’ve got John Kline, the Incumbent, supporting me, Governor Tim Pawlenty, ah Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Tom Emmer, the NFIB, and all all the people that represent Main Street, and that’s who I want to serve.

CRAIG: Well –

McLEAN: I want to thank you both for being here, I’m sorry, this kind of flies by, we’re gonna have to end it there. Angie Craig, Jason Lewis, thank you both for coming in and having this conversation with us this evening.

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Thank you to AFSCME Council 5 for sponsoring our debate coverage

Susan Maricle

Susan has volunteered for The UpTake since our early beginnings. If you've read a debate transcript here, it's likely her fleet and nimble fingers transcribed it.

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