A day after bomb scares rocked the political world, Jason Lewis and Angie Craig toned down their rhetoric Thursday to engage in their third and final - and most civil - debate.
The Republican congressman and his Democratic challenger avoided name-calling and personal attacks and instead focused on their policy differences during an hour-long forum at the Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount.
A crowd of about 300 responded in kind. There were no boos, cheers or applause as the two laid out their positions at the event sponsored by the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Lewis opened the discussion calling for a “civil debate” in the wake of law enforcement officials seizing pipe bombs sent to former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats critical of President Donald Trump. His plea was heeded.
That did not deter the candidates from disagreeing on a wide range of issues. Here are some of their stands:
Career and technical education
Both Lewis and Craig called for more classes that prepare students for jobs that don’t require a college education.
Lewis advocated promoting more competition between schools to hold down tuition at vocational schools. “Don’t fund liberal arts degrees at the expense of CTE,” he said.
Craig proposed increasing federal grants for students and promoting skills that “will actually get people jobs” in trades.
Medicare and Medicaid
Craig supports allowing more people to “buy in” to federal health insurance programs.
Lewis argued those programs would go broke if buy-ins were permitted.
Prescription drug costs
Both agreed those costs are too high.
Craig said the federal government should negotiate drug prices paid under Medicare, which provides health insurance to seniors.
Lewis responded, “If you have price controls, you’re going to get less innovation, you’re going to get fewer life-saving drugs.”
Lewis said the tax cuts Congress and Trump enacted last year were an “outstanding success” that sparked trillions of dollars in investments in the nation’s economy.
Craig said 80 percent of those tax breaks went to “big corporations and very rich people” and added $2 trillion to the federal debt. Now the Republicans are “coming after your Medicare and Social Security” to pay for cutting taxes, she said.
Asked if they support a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage, Lewis replied, “No.” Craig said she’d “work toward” a $15 minimum wage.
The candidates are in a rematch in the predominantly suburban 2nd Congressional District south of the Twin Cities. Lewis won his first term in 2016 by narrowly defeating Craig.
This year’s contest is another close one, according to recent polls, and could help decide which party controls Congress.