DES MOINES — Republican Senator Joni Ernst and Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield debated a range of security issues Thursday night during a live TV forum. Health care security was a flash point. Ernst said the Affordable Care Act has failed to provide affordable insurance to all.
“The public option that my opponent supports is really just a truck stop on the way to, on the road to a single payer system or government take-over of health care,” Ernst said.
Greenfield said the public option would create competition with private insurance and let Iowans buy into Medicare rather than rely on their employer for insurance.
“I have talked to folks who are entrepreneurs and they want to get started, but the cost of health care has kept them from doing that, forcing them to stay in a job instead of growing our economy with their creativity,” Greenfield said.
Asked to identify the greatest long-term security threat to the country, Ernst cited North Korea, Iran, China and Russia as “bad actors.”
“If you look at our security, of course our national debt is a crisis that we really do need to face,” Ernst said.
Greenfield responded: “I find it odd that Senator Ernst would recognize debt as a threat when she voted for a tax bill that increased the debt by $2 trillion.”
As for other domestic threats, Ernst denounced white supremacists as “horrible organizations” and Greenfield said such groups should be monitored by federal law enforcement. Both were asked if systemic racism exists in America. Ernst was first to speak.
“I believe that there are many challenges that we have in various systems, but I would not just say broadly that we have systemic racism across the board.”
Then, Greenfield answered: “discussing systemic racism does not mean that any one individual is a racist, but rather that we have to look at the discrimination across our systems.”
Ernst spoke from a studio in Washington, D.C. Greenfield was in Altoona at a training facility for union apprentices. Technical difficulties during the live broadcast prevented the candidates from hearing some of the moderators’ questions and, in a few instances, the candidates’ answers couldn’t be heard. The 90-minute format allowed moderators to pose the same questions again at a later point in the broadcast.
The event was co-sponsored by The Des Moines Register, KCCI in Des Moines, KTIV in Sioux City and KWWL in Waterloo.