Miller-Meeks and Loebsack: Point/Counterpoint

BY DI STAFF | AUGUST 29, 2014 5:00 AM

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Last night, the contenders for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District faced off in a debate at City High, Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, versus Republican candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

Perhaps the third time is the charm for 2nd Congressional District challenger Mariannette Miller-Meeks in her first debate against Rep. David Loebsack at City High on Thursday night. Going on the offensive from the start, Miller-Meeks launched a steady assault on Loebsack throughout the debate, leaving little time for him to do more than defend himself.

From citing claims that Loebsack was one of the most ineffective members of Congress to being a puppet of President Obama’s policy, Miller-Meeks didn’t let up for a minute. Loebsack’s main defense was blaming partisan conflict in Congress for his inability to make substantial gains, which Miller-Meeks used as a platform to discuss her numerous accomplishments and a need for coherent leadership, which she plans to provide. Although at points her strategy of all out-offense began to take a turn toward overzealous, she managed to reel it back and adjust the trajectory back toward Loebsack’s weak spots.  

Miller-Meeks has challenged Loebsack unsuccessfully in 2008 and 2010 prompting the question: What will be different this time? What Miller-Meeks has going for her this go-round is a general dissatisfaction with the current administration, which Loebsack failed to differentiate himself from.

Loebsack’s attempts to scapegoat Congress ultimately worked against him when met with a gauntlet of criticism from both the moderator and Miller-Meeks. The most Loebsack could muster was a lackluster strategy of saving face by referring to his bipartisan work and minor achievements despite the obstacles presented by a disharmonious Congress.

Overall, the debate was not a total bloodbath, but Loebsack did little to bolster his position in the manner that Millers-Meeks did. The major points Loebsack needed to make was that he was not simply a follower of the Obama administration and remind the voters that he is the most qualified for the job. He didn’t do a particularly great job of advocating for himself and spent most of his time blaming Congress, which he is a part of. Miller-Meeks, on the other hand, did a great job of speaking from the platform of an agent of change while making sure to clarify that she is the best candidate for the job given her military and medical background. The focus of this first debate was for the candidates to speak on their accomplishments and policies, which Miller-Meeks did while backing Loebsack into a corner at the same time.  

Marcus Brown

The enormous difference of political experience between the two candidates became evident in the Thursday night debate. David Loebsack, who has been a U.S. congressman since 2007, repeatedly brought forth relevant, practical, and sensible viewpoints to the table throughout the debate. His inexperienced opponent, Marianette Miller-Meeks, continuously avoided giving concrete answers to the panel’s hard-hitting questions.

When directly asked (numerous times) whether she would vote to raise the debt ceiling, an act that has previously suspended Congress and cost American taxpayers billions of dollars, Miller-Meeks dodged the question and instead focused on blaming the Obama administration’s spending habits.

Loebsack said he would vote to raise the debt ceiling and pointed to his vote to do so years prior.
When Loebsack was questioned about a proposed bill that would cut funding to the SNAP program, a service that millions of Americans rely on to feed themselves and their families, he stated that he has voted to keep funding for the program. Miller-Meeks avoided a direct answer and chose to focus on vague promises to reduce poverty levels in America.

In regards to the decriminalization of medical marijuana, Miller-Meeks kept saying the phrase “we have to look at” followed by obvious evidence that any responsible member of Congress would research before making such a decision. Loebsack, clearly having already done his research based on his several terms in Congress, said, “I am in favor of decriminalizing medical marijuana.”

Pressed about her foreign policy on such issues as the terrorist group known as ISIS, Miller-Meeks did nothing to speak of the issue and instead repeatedly bashed the Obama administration (a common theme from her side of the table throughout the night) for its “lack of clear foreign policy.”

She used this criticism as a veil to avoid directly answering questions about the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. Rather than reducing such a complex situation to a blame game, Loebsack focused on involving the international community, especially NATO, in situations such as these that demand international attention.

Ultimately, Loebsack gave direct and legitimate answers to the questions he was asked and made clear that his experience sets him apart from his opponent. Miller-Meeks did nothing to prove any form of political expertise and instead once again showed viewers why Loebsack has defeated her two times.

Tyler Stercula




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