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Peters calls for 2nd District debates, supports 9/11 lawsuit bill

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Chris Peters said he hopes to present his message to eastern Iowa voters in the 2nd Congressional District in the form of televised debates ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Peters, a surgeon from Coralville, is the Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack.

Peters on Thursday participated in the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s federal candidate series at the organization’s offices in downtown Des Moines. The partnership is a coalition of central Iowa economic and community development organizations.

“People deserve to see both candidates running for a given office and to be able to compare them side-by-side, either live time or on video later,” Peters said after Thursday’s event. “I think we’re doing a disservice to our 2nd District voters if we’re not providing that to them.”

According to the Loebsack campaign, one televised debate has been agreed upon: an Oct. 14 debate televised by Iowa Public Television.

The only other joint appearance agreed to thus far is a forum Oct. 10 in Coralville hosted by the Johnson County Task Force on Aging and the League of Women Voters of Johnson County.

The Loebsack campaign said it is attempting to schedule another debate.

“Our campaign is continuing to work with Dr. Peters’ campaign to schedule three debates, which would be the same number as the presidential campaign and more than any other federal race in Iowa this year,” Loebsack campaign manager Joe O’Hern said in an email. “Unfortunately, Dr. Peters’ campaign only seems to be interested in pulling political stunts rather than working with us to try and schedule these debates.”

During the partnership’s event, Peters presented his views for reducing the federal debt, limiting federal regulations on businesses, reducing corporate taxes and enacting market-based health care reform.

Peters called the $19.5 trillion national debt “a horrible burden to pass on to future generations” and called for reduced federal spending and market-based health care reform as means to reducing the debt. He also said federal lawmakers should take a common-sense look at regulations, weighing their public benefit vs. the effect on businesses.

Peters said he got deeply interested in politics after the housing boom and then the burst that contributed to the 2008 recession.

“I really wanted to understand economics … wanted to understand the policy implications for why that happened,” Peters said.

After the event, Peters said he supports Congress’ move Wednesday to override President Barack Obama’s veto of legislation that allows the families of 9/11 victims to sue foreign governments.

Peters said that in addition to potential damages, he thinks lawsuits could reveal more information about the role Middle East countries played in harboring the terrorists who participated in the 9/11 attacks.

“I think we have a right to sue for damages,” Peters said. “I think there’s a lot of open questions regarding the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in 9/11. Certainly, some of the stuff looks very damning. And allowing people to litigate may offer us more opportunities to know more than we do now.”

Loebsack voted in favor of overriding the president’s veto and making the legislation law.

Critics of the legislation — and even some members of Congress who approved overriding the president’s veto — expressed concerns about possible unintended consequences. The White House said it could adversely affect the nation’s relationship with Saudi Arabia as the countries work together to fight terrorism, and national security officials said it could embolden other countries to sue the U.S. over its military actions.

“That’s entirely possible. There’s always a risk of unintended consequences whenever you make a policy decision. It’s a fair concern,” Peters said. “I think certain circumstances are worth taking a risk, and this one may be one of those.”

Loebsack is scheduled to participate in the partnership’s candidate series on Oct. 18.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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