VIDEO: Click here to watch a replay of the Boswell-Latham debate.
COUNCIL BLUFFS — The once-cordial relationship between U.S. Reps. Tom Latham and Leonard Boswell continued to sour Thursday during a debate at Iowa Western Community College.
Latham, a Republican, and Boswell, a Democrat, differed on nearly every topic they were asked about and often attacked each other's voting records.
Both men had to be steered back to the topic at hand several times by the debate's panelists and moderator.
However, despite the sharp disagreements, the debate was not as hard-hitting as some of the candidates' own television ads.
It was the third debate this week for the candidates, who are competing for support in Iowa's redrawn 3rd Congressional District, which includes Council Bluffs and most of southwest Iowa.
Latham and Boswell found themselves squaring off this year after redistricting cost Iowa a congressional seat.
Latham criticized Boswell for voting to protect an electric car loan program last year instead of increased funding for federal disaster relief during the Missouri River floods.
Boswell at first appeared hesitant to address the electric car question but said he voted in favor of the program because “here we are in an energy crisis.”
“FEMA did not run out of money,” he added, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Boswell, a farmer and military veteran from Lamoni, accused Latham of benefiting from the 2008 Wall Street bailout, saying his family bank took in $2.4 million as a result.
Boswell voted in favor of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, Latham against.
Latham said he didn't personally benefit from the bailout. “The only person who doesn't believe it is apparently Congressman Boswell,” he said.
Boswell responded: “I'm not suggesting he was in the boardroom. I do believe you knew about it.”
The 60-minute exchange, sponsored by Iowa Press, touched on many topics, including possible military intervention in Iran, the future of the U.S. Postal Service, Medicare, Social Security, the gas tax and the farm bill.
The candidates agreed that the farm bill is the most pressing issue for Iowa, one of the few things they agreed on the whole evening. They both want the legislation brought to the table sooner rather than later.
Latham and Boswell also agreed on their biggest mistake during their U.S. House tenure: Voting in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a controversial measure that supports standards-based education reform.
“It had the best intentions,” said Latham, a Republican from Clive. “The way it ended up ... it simply didn't work.”
Boswell said he and his colleagues in Congress were misled about the intent of the law.
Latham was elected to Congress in 1994, Boswell in 1996.
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