I had North Dakota’s three candidates for the U.S. House – Republican incumbent Kevin Cramer, Democrat Chase Iron Eyes, and Libertarian Jack Seaman – on my radio show for a debate. I was expected things to get a little heated, and boy was I not at all wrong about that.
We had so many calls and questions that we ended up going overtime for about 20 minutes, something made possible by my colleague Jay Thomas donating the first segment of his show to the cause. Even so, we had a lot of emails and calls I just didn’t have time to get to. I did my best, but there is always a difficult balance between cramming in as calls and emails as I can and making sure the candidates have enough time to answer in full and engage one another.
And engage one another they did. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump was a popular topic with Seaman and Iron Eyes ganging up on Cramer for his unabashed support for the Republican presidential candidate.
“Donald Trump is a walking, talking threat to our national security,” Iron Eyes said, accusing Cramer of hitching himself “Trump’s star.”
“I didn’t hitch myself to Trump’s star,” Cramer shot back, “Trump hitched himself to mine.” Cramer said he has never asked for Trump’s endorsement, and when a caller asked Cramer why Trump picked him as an energy adviser, Cramer said it’s because he’s an “energy expert.”
In response to a question about Trump’s crude comments about women, Cramer said “nobody’s been worse for women than Hillary Clinton.”
Iron Eyes, meanwhile, was somewhat tepid in support of his party’s presidential candidate. “I’m voting for Hillary; I’m not endorsing her,” he said, which got a laugh from Cramer and Seaman who accused Iron Eyes of a political answer to the question.
“I can’t fully get behind any of the other candidates,” Iron Eyes went on to explain. “That’s the choice I’m going for.”
Seaman said he supports Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, describing Trump and Clinton as “animals in a cage flinging feces at one another.”
Cramer and Iron Eyes also tangled over money in politics.
“The political system doesn’t represent the people,” Iron Eyes said. “Politicians answer to the highest bidder.” He went on to accuse Cramer of taking “dark money” from corporations and the Koch brothers.
Cramer pointed out that corporate political contributions are illegal, but added that he was proud to take legal and disclosed contributions from people like the Kochs.
Iron Eyes and Seaman said they would support term limits in response to a question from an emailer, while Cramer called them the “antithesis of democracy.” He said he doesn’t ant to vote for a law to push out incumbents voters are too lazy to cast out themselves.
Seaman touted his fiscal discipline. “I will not vote for any budget that isn’t completely balanced,” he said, while accusing Cramer of voting for deficit spending. Cramer said that he has co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment, and has voted for balanced budgets, but said the problem is an appropriations process which has been gridlocked by partisan politics.
Here’s the full audio of the debate. It’s definitely worth your time to listen.