Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley held their first debate last night. Immigration was front-and-center, which is probably not a bad thing for Ernst.
Braley tried, however, to spin the issue into an advertisement for his “bipartisanship.” He invited Ernst to “join John McCain and Marco Rubio in calling on Speaker Boehner to bring this immigration bill to the floor of the House so we can pass it.” Ernst declined the invitation.
She stated that Congress should “secure the border [and] enforce the laws on the books,” and then move to “modernize” the legal immigration system. Ernst added that she doesn’t support “amnesty” and that she opposes President Obama taking executive action to “grant amnesty.”
Braley countered that “Sen. Rubio and Sen. McCain did not vote for amnesty” by supporting the Senate immigration bill. He hopes to gain mileage by invoking the names of the two Republican Senators.
But to my knowledge, McCain has never been particularly popular in Iowa, and Rubio says he no longer wants the House to pass his immigration bill. His current position appears to be about the same as Ernst’s.
Braley is wise, nonetheless, to attempt to appear “bipartisan.” But Ernst had a good counter. She ridiculed her opponent’s claim to be a “bridge builder” by bringing up a feud Braley had with a neighbor over chickens:
Congressman, you threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto their property. You’re talking about bipartisanship; how do we expect as Iowans to believe that you will work across the aisle when you can’t walk across your yard?
I wonder whether, at the end of the day, Braley is nice enough to win a statewide race in a state as friendly as Iowa.
The Des Moines Register’s account of the debate is here.
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