1st District GOP candidates square off in debate - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

1st District GOP candidates square off in debate

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Republican candidates for Congress squared off in Cedar Rapids Monday night.

Ben Lange and Rod Blum took the stage in their first debate before the June 5 primary.

Both are looking to unseat incumbent Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa's 1st Congressional district.

Both men agree on many key issues - creating jobs, reducing taxes, getting rid of the health care law, and sending a Republican to Washington from the 1st District.

But, of course, they differ on who that should be.

A full house at Kirkwood Community College watched Republicans Ben Lange and Rod Blum discuss the issues.

They'll face off in two weeks and each promoted what sets them apart.

"I think we need to have a contrast there. Is it a 32-year-old lawyer who wants to be a career politician against a 57-year-old lawyer who is a career politician or is it a 57-year-old job creator?" asked Blum.

"We know, you're [Rod Blum] on record in 1996 as saying, 'I think I'll be an excellent politician,' he says in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald. 'I think I'll run for Congress someday' and here's the real kicker -- 'I'll grab for the brass ring when the opportunity presents itself.' So let's just talk about the issues," Lange said.

Dan Lucore is with the Linn County Tea Party.

He came to the debate with an open mind.

"I want to hear what they're saying tonight. I don't think it's fair being I'm on the tea party to make an announcement for one or the other at this point. I think there's a lot of our group that supports each of the candidates and I think in fairness, I'm going to wait and listen,' said Lucore.

Blum supporters tout his experience and his business background.

"He's balanced a budget and he's the right guy to lead us in District 1," said Mike LaCoste of Waterloo.

Lange supporters say it's important a Republican beats Democrat Bruce Braley.

"Hopefully, it's Lange but if it were to happen he would lose, I do like a lot of stuff Rod Blum has said, too," said Carla Sams of Anamosa.

Lange ran two years ago and lost a close race to Braley.

Those in attendance at the debate think whoever wins the Republican primary has a great chance of winning the general election in the fall.

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