Rod Blum revises debate challenge

He initially wanted 10 with Monica Vernon; now asks for 6

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By Christinia Crippes, Waterloo Courier

WATERLOO — Calling it a compromise, U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, R-1st District, is challenging his Democratic opponent to six debates.

Blum, a Dubuque businessman vying for his second term, had previously proposed 10 debates with Monica Vernon; she countered with two.

Now Blum is trying to meet her partway, reducing his proposal by four, and hoping to increase hers by four.

“I think that’s reasonable, trying to compromise,” Blum said Thursday. “I’m puzzled. I’m absolutely puzzled why a challenger would not want to debate.”

Blum’s new proposal calls for the six debates to be held in Cedar Rapids, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, Decorah, Dubuque, Grinnell and Marshalltown.

Vernon, a former Cedar Rapids City Council member, initially offered for the two debates to be in their hometowns.

Vernon’s campaign continues to push for two debates “just as Congressman Blum agreed to in 2014.”

Blum noted his defiance of tradition by issuing the challenge as an incumbent. Usually, the challengers call for more debates, not fewer.

“I think I know the issues, so I’m not afraid to have that conversation or that debate about my vision for the country, and the policies, versus, I don’t even know what her vision is,” Blum said.

Vernon’s campaign said Iowans deserve answers to questions on Blum’s positions.

“Northeast Iowans have a lot of questions for Congressman Blum: Why does he keep supporting unfair, job-killing trade deals? Why does he keep trying to cut Social Security and privatize Medicare instead of looking out for Iowa’s middle class? Iowans deserve to know,” said Vernon campaign spokeswoman Michelle Gajewski.

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