CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack and Democratic challenger Rick Nolan tussled Tuesday over the best ways to create jobs and provide health care as one of the nation's costliest House races nears the homestretch.
In their third debate in Minnesota's 8th District, Cravaack and Nolan squared off for an hour before an overflow crowd at Anoka Ramsey Community College.
Nolan said President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill could have been better but that it worked.
"It did in fact create good jobs in a whole wide range of areas, not the least of which is in the field of transportation," Nolan said.
Cravaack said the bill was not worth what it added to the national debt, which he repeatedly said could leave future U.S. generations "indentured servants" to countries such as China.
"By every economist that I have read (it) did not help the economy," Cravaack said. "All we did was add more to our debt."
Cravaack and Nolan also differed on whether to repeal Obama's signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, reported Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/PAFqUPA), which carried the debate.
Cravaack, who is seeking his second House term, said he would repeal the health care law.
"The reason why? Let's just start off at the 30,000-foot level: Nobody read it," Cravaack said. "It did not go through the normal committee process."
Nolan, a former congressman, said he would not vote to repeal it.
"It ensures that another 30 million people in this country would have health insurance; it provides that nobody can be denied as a result of preconditions; it provides that parents can keep their children insured up to the age of 26," Nolan said.
On environmental issues, Nolan said environmentalists are not hurting economic development in northeast Minnesota. Cravaack criticized Nolan for opposing logging, snowmobiling and motor-boating when he voted to create the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildness in the late 1970s.
"Congressman Nolan sided essentially with the Twin City environmentalists and was actually in opposition of pro-growth, pro-economic reforms that we needed in the Northland to create jobs," Cravaack said.
Nolan said he remains proud of his BWCA vote, which he suggested has created tourism jobs in the district.
"It's one of the 10 best destination-oriented vacations in the entire world," Nolan said. "People fly in from all over America, all over the world to take advantage of that great experience."
Outside groups have spent nearly $4.5 million on the race in the 8th District, a key seat as the parties fight for control of the House.
Cravaack and Nolan will meet for their fourth and final debate Oct. 31 in the Minnesota Iron Range city of Virginia.
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mpr.org
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.