Appel, Young split on how America should fight

INDIANOLA — Staci Appel says the United States should “always” fight foreign conflicts and terror with friends standing by the nation’s side.

David Young says the country may be forced to throw some overseas punches alone, that the nation has to lead.

The two candidates seeking to represent a 16-county sweep of southern and central Iowa in the 3rd Congressional District — which includes Guthrie and Adair counties — offered strikingly different foreign policy philosophies in their second debate Monday night sponsored by KCCI-TV, The Des Moines Register and Simpson College.

“The United States always has to work in a coalition with other countries,” said Appel, an Ackworth Democrat who previously served in the Iowa Senate.

That’s not always possible in a dangerous world, where the United States is looked to as a leader, and in the event of immediate responses to any crisis endangering American lives, said Young, a Republican and former chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley.

“If there’s something out there that’s a threat to America, we don’t always need to wait for others,” said Young, who lives in Van Meter.

Young’s preference is for the nation to work in a coalition, but he wouldn’t make it an absolute.

“My job would be to make sure America is protected and her people protected,” Young said in an interview after the debate.

Foreign affairs — particularly the response to terror threats — consumed much of the beginning of the hour-long debate, with Appel largely on the defensive for a remark about passports in the first televised exchange in Council Bluffs.

The one exchange that jumped out of the September debate centered on how to handle the passports of American citizens with suspected ties to terrorist organizations.

“I’d be urging our State Department to revoke the passports of those that they suspect who have admitted that they are part of terrorist organizations,” Young said. “Our State Department has that authority. Right now, they’re not doing it.”

Young’s approach goes too far, said Appel.

“I would not be urging taking away their passports,” Appel said in September. “I think we need to make sure that we work through the system and look through it on a very diligent basis.”

The moderators of the debate Monday — KCCI’s Kevin Cooney and The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich — pressed Appel on her response, which has been center stage in the campaign during much of the last two weeks.

“I do not support giving passports to terrorists,” Appel said.

Appel would not say whether she misspoke or changed her position.

“I think I was very clear,” she said.

Young said the September statement from Appel in a televised debate from Council Bluffs reveals lack of judgment in the heat of the moment, something members of Congress cannot escape when dealing with life-and-death issues related to foreign policy.

“This is more than a misstatement,” Young said.

Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford said the passport exchange was not a highlight for Appel in the debate.

“I think she was not strong in the way she responded to that,” Goldford said. “Probably some campaign handler told her, ‘Simply state your position and go on. Don’t look back.’”

Appel and Young did agree on increasing the minimum wage. Both support a hike from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

Appel said it would be her No. 1 priority.

Young said the raise should be phased in and tied to small-business measures aimed at reducing any negative effects on employers.

Both opposed raising the retirement age of 65 for Social Security and Medicare. Young said means-testing Social Security, which could cut or eliminate payments to wealthier seniors, should be considered to shore up the system for the future.

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