Third District candidates participate in debate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The three men vying for Indiana’s third congressional district seat participated in a debate Tuesday night at WFWA’s studio.

The debate was the first, and only, televised debate for all three men this election. In prior months, at least two men would meet at a forum to talk to voters, but never had a televised debate.

The hour-long debate covered six topics:

  1. ISIS and foreign policy
  2. Charities/Government supporting veteran healthcare
  3. Falling oil prices in Saudi Arabia
  4. Rising cost of higher education
  5. Broken Congress
  6. Improving America’s Infrastructure

Due to the debate’s structure, candidates could not address one another, which kept things from getting heated.

All three men agreed on some of the topics, including the issue of whether or not Congress is broken and needs fixed.  However, each candidate answered differently on how the problem should be handled.

“I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who says Congress isn’t broken,” Wise said during the debate. “I think sometimes a lack of new legislation and new laws is a good thing. I very much believe Congress should be engaged in activity that reduces the size of government, and works them out of a job, so to speak. It’s not the 1700s, so we probably need a little government than what we thought of initially, however, we should stick to the guidelines that the federal government is limited. We should stick to the rules that we planned the government to take on and let the states and local governments take care of a lot of domestic issues that the federal government has taken upon itself to try to solve. When I look at one government program to another, I have a difficult time finding one thing the government does well. One could say the U.S. military, and I’m all for the U.S. military. I think they do a great job, but you let the politicians get involved and we got a mess on our hands.  So when they run wild in Washington, when they play the political games, when they keep bills from coming to the floor because it’s not their particular party, I think that’s wrong and I think it’s wrong-minded of our government to continue to allow that to happen.”

When addressing the media after the debate, Wise said the first government program he would the Department of Education.

“It is not working the way it was designed to work,” Stutzman said to open his statement on the topic. “Congress was designed to allow people to bring ideas to the floors for debate and discussion. If you look at what’s happened at the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, you have two very different pictures. In the House, where Republican leadership has allowed Democrats to bring amendments to the floor, we have passed over 350 bills that are sitting over in the Senate that are waiting for discussion and debate. The Senate bills are not being discussed or debated. Harry Reid has locked down the Senate, and because of the rules in the Senate, it’s holding a lot of bills from being heard.

“There are two problems. One is the regular order. We need the regular process of how bills come through committee, they go to the floor, amendments can be offered by either party, and let us vote on tough issues,” the Congressman added. “That’s what we are there for.  We’re there to fix problems. Then also the scoring that’s done by the Congressional Budget Office. Often times those numbers come back and they’ll tell Congress it’ll reduce the deficit or increase it and we’ve seen some scores come back that were wrong. One in particular was on Obamacare. That was much more costly to the American taxpayers than what was told to Congress at the time. I think that should be fixed as well.”

Kuhnle agreed with his two opponents.

“Congress is broken because with 13 percent approval, 90 percent of them are going to return to office,” Kuhnle said. “As I’ve been terming it, it’s the status quo that’s got to go. If we continue to believe that we can keep sending the same representatives back to Congress and we expect them to change their ways, we are fooling ourselves as citizens. We have to understand that when we’re talking about sending bills to either side, what the full story is that 300 bills have gone and that’s our job, bills. It’s not just sitting on a desk, it’s sitting in committees, it’s sitting in compromise committees. It’s being discussed and there is still a small fraction that sits on the desk. In the true sense of it, you have to work with each other. You have to bring your ideas and sit at the table and discuss what the problems are. A lot of times what we do is only focus on what are differences are and not what we hold together. If you came up with a problem, you could sit down and say, what do we agree with. That’s a better starting point than saying, what do we disagree with. Too often Congress is quick to say, I don’t agree with that and I’m going to stand my ground and say no. It’s time to stop saying no to every little thing and start saying, what can we do together.”

Debate Format
The hour-long debate had no live audience. It began with all three men explaining his background and how it made him the best candidate for the office.

There were five questions asked of each candidate.

The moderator asked Candidate A a question.  Candidate A had 1.5 minutes to answer the question.  After the initial answer from Candidate A, the moderator asked Candidate A a follow up question that was germane to the question and/or answer.  Candidate had 30 seconds to answer the follow up question.

The moderator asked Candidate B the same question that was asked of Candidate A.  Candidate B had 1.5 minutes to answer the question.  After the initial answer from Candidate B, the moderator asked Candidate B a follow up question that was germane to the question and/or answer.  Candidate B had 30 seconds to answer the follow up question.

The moderator asked Candidate C the same question that was asked of Candidates A and B.  Candidate C had 1.5 minutes to answer the question.  After the initial answer from Candidate C, the moderator asked Candidate C a follow up question that was germane to the question and/or answer.  Candidate C had 30 seconds to answer the follow up question.

This pattern continued for four questions.  After the fourth question, each candidate had 30 seconds to clarify and/or correct statements made to that point and/or to elaborate on points made to that point.

Two more questions were asked that followed the pattern described above.  Due to time constraints, candidates did not get a 30 second rebuttal for the final question.

The debate ended with each candidate explaining why he should be elected.

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