Rep. Tim Walz, Jim Hagedorn square off on health care, terrorism, criminal justice in forum

By Allison Sherry, Star Tribune - Democratic Rep. Tim Walz and Republican Jim Hagedorn tangled over how to tackle terrorism, criminal justice reform, health care and military policy in a forum on Tuesday.

Walz touted his decade as a bipartisan dealmaker in Washington, striking accord with Republicans on everything from additional programs for veterans to a hiking trail bill. Hagedorn says he would better represent the First Congressional District on Capitol Hill because he was a conservative who believed in fewer government regulations bogging people down.

Hagedorn and Walz are former political foes -- this is the second time the Republican has tried to unseat Walz. He lost in 2014 by 8 points.

On problems in the Middle East, Hagedorn called for a "time out" on refugee entry into the United States.

"He (Walz) has a pre-911 mentality," he said. "We don't need to be bringing terrorists into Rochester."

Walz, who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee and served in the National Guard for 25 years, said diplomacy and how the U.S. treated people around the world was as important as having a strong military. 

"We need to understand that a final solution is not a military solution," he said. "It is not a defining characteristic to lead by fear."

Walz praised the Affordable Care Act for helping people gain converage with pre-existing conditions and forcing insurance companies to treat men and women equally when obtaining coverage. He said some reforms were needed and said he was willing to work with Republicans to find solutions to existing problems.

Hagedorn called the law a "monstrosity" and said it needed to be overhauled, but he failed to give specifics.

On climate change, Hagedorn said he didn't know whether it was real and said he favored energy independence and more driling for domestic oil.

"I support pipelines. I support energy. It's not enough to just go out and explore," he said.

Walz said climate change had been proven by scientists, but called it a "fallacy of choice" that an energy policy can't both address protecting the planet and unearthing new ways to produce energy and create jobs.

On criminal justice reform, Hagedorn called for a "colorblind" society and said he believed "all lives matter" and called the Black LIves Matter movement extreme.

Walz called for better education programs to address crime. He touted his endorsement of the Minnesota Police Officers Association. Without mentioning Black Lives Matter, he said, "diversity gives us our strength."

Walz called the choice between he and Hagedorn was easy because he has a "shining city on the hill" vision of moving the country forward by working with Republicans. He talked about checks and balances in Congress and about gaining 217 votes to get anything through the U.S. House of Representatives.

"America has always been great, it didn't stop being great," Walz said, parroting the phrase touted by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. "The key to this is respecting people's opinion."

Hagedorn said he was running to try and fix Washington.

"I'm running because I think our country is facing some serious substantial issues," he said. "It's that dire. I"m running on big ideas and big solutions."

http://www.startribune.com/rep-tim-walz-jim-hagedorn-square-off-on-health-care-terrorism-criminal-justice-in-forum/395914971/