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Full debate recap; not much new in April 20 republican primary senatorial debate - Question 1

I you're happy and you know it...
I you're happy and you know it...
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press. Thanks Associated Press!


What follows is a full question-by-question recap of the April 20 debate between the five republicans competing for the right to hammer Brad Ellsworth in November. Read carefully and then check out the story about the debate being hosted by the Indianapolis Tea Party coming up on Saturday, April 24.

There will be no candidate introductions in this article. If you want to know biographical information, visit their websites. Links will be included for your convenience.

There are 10 questions. Each one will have its own article. This is Question 1, the others will all be linked to here:

Question 2 – What are you going to do about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington?

Question 3 – If you are elected, what would be the topic and purpose of the first piece of legislation that you draft.

Question 4 – Are taxes a viable way to get out of debt and do you think limited government can exist in modern day American?

Question 5 – Would you support the recently signed treaty with Russia?

Question 6 – What is your stance on assault weapons bans, concealed carry reciprocity and a national gun registry?

Question 7 – How will you go about cutting spending?

Question 8 – By what parameters would you decide to support a nominee for federal office?

Question 9 – What is your view on NAFTA and other free trade agreements that allow American business to send jobs overseas and get tax breaks?

Question 10 (Final) – What makes you exceptional over the four other people that makes you worthy of our vote?


This intro will precede each question.

The Scoring System
Each question will be shown, then the responses summarized in the order in which they were given during the debate. The best two answers will then be selected along with a worst answer award. Here are the criteria:


1. First and foremost, they have to actually answer the question. Recitation of talking points will be counted against the candidates.


2. Originality will play in as well. Obviously many candidates have similar views, but if they explain them in a clear personal manner they will score higher than if they rely on buzzwords like “Reagan” or resort to repetitive attacks on the latest health care bill.


3. Delivery is key. The senator we elect must not only vote the way we want, but they must be an advocate of our views. If the candidate cannot speak in a relatively non-hostile environment like this past debate without bumbling and tripping over their tongue, we cannot expect them to articulately advocate our views on the floor of the Senate.


4. Honesty is also critical. If the candidate’s response is disingenuous male bovine excrement or attempts to tactically skirt the truth of a candidate’s history on a particular subject, the candidate will be called out.


5. Last but not least, the quality of the politics behind the answer. Answers that pass the common sense test and will truly help America being the healing process from the disease that is liberalism will get the highest marks.


Disclaimer- Unless contained in quotes, the candidates’ answers are paraphrases. Also, this is my subjective assessment of the candidates’ performances. I am not working on the campaigns of any senatorial candidate and I am truly undecided as to who I will support. That being said, I have by biases against certain candidates on certain issues and those will come into play.

Question 1 – What does representative government mean to you and what is more important to how you will vote; the will of the people or your personal convictions?

Marlin Stutzman – Cited personal conviction and mentioned how important it is. Then he moved on to mention that Constitutionality was also important. Threw in the idea that a dialogue with the people was important as well.
This was basically a non-answer. Stutzman never said which was more important, nor did he clearly articulate how the three factors interrelated. Instead he went for the shotgun approach of mentioning everything that anyone might want to hear. Thumbs down.

Richard Behney – First cited the need to represent the people, then mentioned that convictions will factor in as well. And oh yeah, the Constitution too.
Another non-answer in the basic mold of Stutzman’s. Behney did not pick the most important nor did he clearly articulate how the three factors interrelated. Thumbs down.

John Hostettler – Pointed out that the oath that Congressmen take is to uphold the Constitution.
While he did actually answer the question, he made no mention of the factors of personal convictions or the will of his constituents and how he might resolve conflicts between those forces, which is what the spirit of the question was going for.

Don Bates Jr. – Said that our government was designed to listen to the people when they speak. Cited the recent poll showing that most Americans do not have faith in their government. Said, unequivocally, that he is running for office to represent Hosiers, and that he will listen first to the will of the people.
Crisp and delivered with conviction. Bates gave the question what it was seeking; a definitive principle behind the candidates idea of representative government. Bravo.

Dan Coats – Started out by referencing the Constitutional oath that Congressmen take. Then he said that a representative should communicate with the people and should clearly state his convictions to the people who elect him. The representative then has the obligation to vote his convictions as he stated them. If the voters find at some point that the Congressman’s convictions are not in line with their will, then they will vote him out.
This was spot on. The candidate sells himself as a complete package to the voters. They know what they are getting, assuming that the candidate is honest (unlike our current president). The candidate, if elected, should vote with the same convictions that he displayed during his campaign.

The Verdict

Top Answer: Dan Coats – He explained it like it should be in this representative democracy in which we all live. Candidates have a responsibility to accurately and honestly display their convictions and the people have an obligation to learn those convictions and vote for the person who’s convictions best reflect theirs.
Honorable Mention: Don Bates Jr. – He gave his conviction clearly. A different view from Coats – and in my opinion a less accurate view, since a Congressman cannot possibly poll his constituents on every issue that he must vote on – but a solid principled answer.
Worst Answer Award: Marlin Stutzman and Richard Behney – Neither candidate actually answered the question. They gave mushy, inarticulate babblings that were aimed at pleasing everyone without taking a stand.

Check out the other questions by following the links at the beginning of the story!


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