Talk about repealing Obamacare, fixing the debt and shrinking the size of government dominated at a First District congressional forum Thursday sponsored by the Rochester Tea Party Patriots.
About 100 people showed up at the Rochester Eagles Club for the chance to hear from all three Republicans seeking to take on four-term DFL Congressman Tim Walz in November 2014.
During the forum, Blue Earth businessman Jim Hagedorn, Byron Army veteran Aaron Miller and Rochester state Rep. Mike Benson highlighted their conservative credentials. All three agreed the country is headed in the wrong direction.
“The government of the United States has become so big and so powerful that people have actually begun to fear their government. We’ve moved to a period I call ‘soft tyranny,’” Hagedorn said.
The son of former Republican Congressman Tom Hagedorn told the crowd that he is the best candidate to beat Walz because of his experience working in Washington D.C. to shrink the size of government and his willingness to attack Walz and run what he called an “insurgent” campaign.
Miller said he decided to run for Congress because he is worried about his daughters’ futures.
“We’re $17 trillion in debt. That’s $54,000 for every man, woman and child in this country. We’re way past passing it on to our kids. We’re passing it on to their kids and their kids,” Miller said.
When it comes to defeating Walz, Miller said his military experience gives him an advantage over the other candidates because it neutralizes one of Walz’s perceived strengths — his military record. He also cited his private-sector background as another advantage.
Benson emphasized the importance of fiscal responsibility, individual responsibility, limited government and abiding by the Constitution. He noted he is the only candidate who has won a general election. In 2010, he defeated three-term DFL Rep. Andy Welti of Plainview. While in the Legislature, he said he stood by his conservative principles.
“When I go to Washington, you don’t have to worry about where Mike Benson stands,” he said.
All three candidate pledged to abide by the Republican endorsement process. In the past, Benson had avoided making that commitment. In addition, all of them said they would join the House’s Tea Party Caucus if elected. While the candidates agreed on most of the issues, some differences emerged. For more details, check out my story in Friday's Post-Bulletin.