Candidates Face Off in Final 8th District Debate

By KBJR News 1

October 31, 2012 Updated Oct 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM CST

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Candidates in the 8th district Congressional race squared off in their fourth and final debate Wednesday in Virginia.

During the 90 minute debate, incumbent Congressman Chip Cravaack and Democratic Challenger Rick Nolan discussed everything from the national debt to mining projects on the Iron Range.

Supporters of Former Congressman Nolan spent time before the debate rallying.

"Rick Nolan is going to make sure that whether you're a teacher or a nurse, you're taken care of," said Representative Tom Rukavina during the rally.

Meanwhile, inside the auditorium where the debate was held, Cravaack supporters also expressed enthusiasm.

"The 8th district needs somebody that's pro jobs and pro industry back in this area again," said Cravaack supporter, Jerry Kortesmaki.

Debate topics included both national and local issues; Including some of the more heated topics this political season, President Obama's healthcare plan and Medicare.

"You will have options of what type of insurance plan you want, whatever pertains to you," said Congressman Cravaack, "One plan is also traditional Medicare."

"Through the Affordable Care Act, the long term financial viability of Medicare was extended by eight years," said Former Congressman Nolan.

Other topics, such as how to handle dropping iron ore prices, which could potentially slow down mining operations, hit close to the heart of the Iron Range region in which the final debate was held.

"We need to increase the demand for taconite, for steel," Congressman Cravaack said, "We have to have pro–growth tax reform."

"We do need to increase demand and one of the ways you increase demand is by investing some money in the rebuilding of our infrastructure," said Former Congressman Nolan.

The candidates also tackled what is perhaps the most critical issue facing the Iron Range region; the controversial nonferrous mining operations that, once up and running, could create hundreds of jobs.

"We know how to do it and we know how to do it right," Former Congressman Nolan said in support of the projects.

"I believe we can mine precious metals in a safe, environmental way," said Congressman Cravaack, who also supports the projects.

The debate was likely the final time the candidates will face each other before voters take to the polls.

The Northland's NewsCenters' News Director, Barbara Reyelts, moderated the debate at the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.