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7th District debate: Collin Peterson and Dave Hughes

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Collin Peterson and Dave Hughes
Collin Peterson, left, is the U.S. Representative for Minnesota's 7th congressional district running for reelection against Dave Hughes, right, the Republican candidate in the district.
Via WikiCommons

Candidates running for Congress in Minnesota's 7th District, which covers most of the western half of the state, came to MPR's Moorhead studio to debate issues facing the country and the district's constituents.

Democratic incumbent Collin Peterson has represented the 7th district since 1991 and is a top member of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture. His Republican opponent Dave Hughes is an air force veteran who now works for a private company as a pilot and instructor.

Here are a few highlights from their debate:

To hear the whole debate, click the play button above.

On agriculture economy

Hughes: "We have crop insurance, we have the agriculture risk coverage and we have the price loss coverage. Those are all in place and I think those are adequate. Going forward we need to take a look at making better deals, international deals with the various counties and better enforcement mechanisms."

Peterson:"In the last Farm Bill we kept crop insurance, which works good when prices are going up but doesn't work as good when they're going down. We also put in this ARC program which works the same way. So in the House we were not supportive of the ARC, we wanted a PLC program that had higher target prices, No. 1, and No. 2 that had it tied to planted acres not base acres. And part of what the problem is now is that these rents and land prices have stayed up so high because the base is tied to that land and if you go to planted acres it goes to farmers."

On who they support for president

Hughes:"I am supporting Donald Trump, but I disagree with him overall on his take and flavor on NAFTA and TPP. I tend to support the concept of TPP but the dispute resolution section I need to become more familiar with and then also, of course, I do want whoever the next president is to have a chance to renegotiate the terms of TPP.

Peterson:"I'm with my constituents. Right now I'm not happy with either choice. And I was inching towards supporting Hillary Clinton until she came out and said she strongly favors implementing the Waters of the U.S. which would be a disaster. So I'm back to being conflicted about the situation. I'm not going to support Trump"

On health care

Hughes:"I think that we should repeal it (Obamacare) immediately and then start over with a fresh approach which Republicans and Democrats alike across the isles have been talking about for 20 years — that include free market reforms such as portability, a national marketplace, tort reform and full tax deductibility for individuals."

Peterson:"There are good things in this bill. One of them is that a 26-year-old can stay on their parents' policy. People that have preexisting conditions can now get covered. This is a big problem and one thing that was solved by this bill. So there are some good aspects of it and I think if we continue down this road of one side saying repeal, one side saying not, we're just going to continue to kick the can down the road and continue to have problems. So I am ready to go to work to come up with a bipartisan solution that can be signed by the president and get through the Congress and that's something we have to get on sooner rather than later.

One college debt

Peterson:"Part of the problem is the government. Because as costs go up we just make more programs available, more loans available and no cost containment happens at the college level. And that's something that needs to be looked at. I'm sympathetic with these folks that have these huge debts that are having problems but I don't believe that with the debts that we have overall in the country that we're in a position to say well we're going to eliminate all the college debt and make college free — I just don't think that's realistic."

Hughes:"I want to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, not because I don't think education is important but just the opposite because it is so very important. And I just want to point out that it's a very new agency, it's only been around since 1980. A lot of people talk about big oil and big this and big that — well there is this thing called big education. And if you look at the price of tuition and all that the reason it's been rising much higher than the rate of inflation for decades now is precisely because of government involvement."