Democrat Kara Eastman and Republican Don Bacon hit on familiar themes Sunday night in their final debate before the election.
The two differ greatly on most issues — and those differences were apparent in the debate hosted by KETV and also sponsored by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
With a little more than a week left until the Nov. 6 election, Bacon, the incumbent congressman in the 2nd Congressional District, focused on the recent tax overhaul bill, his military background and his emphasis on civility.
“I think folks want a pragmatic conservative,” Bacon said. “Put me back to work serving this district and this country.”
Eastman, a nonprofit executive and a member of the Metropolitan Community College board, said she believes that voters want to see someone who will stand up to President Donald Trump and focus on affordable health care and college education.
“We need leaders right now, we need leaders who are going to stand up and fight for working people,” she said in her closing statement.
Bacon criticized Eastman for missing four of the 10 meetings of the Metro board in 2018, saying she put politics above her job. He said that he only missed one vote in Congress and that it was because he failed to push the button.
After the debate, Eastman noted that at least one meeting she missed was because of a previous debate with Bacon. She often attends Metro events outside of board meetings.
Public meeting minutes list Eastman as absent from the board’s March, April, August and October meetings.
“I love Metro,” she said. “I’m proud of the work I’ve done there.”
For Eastman’s part, she painted Bacon as a party-line lawmaker who will fall in line with the demands of top Republicans, in particular painting him as being willing to cut Social Security.
Eastman said she’s not beholden to her party or to special interests, noting that she’s declined to take contributions from political action committees associated with for-profit companies.
“I’m a free agent,” she said.
Bacon said he votes according to his conscience and his campaign promises from 2016.
“I ran two years ago to fix our broken tax code,” he said.
And the two tangled over political ads and civility.
Eastman noted that Bacon has been supported by several outside groups that have aired television commercials that are critical of her. Bacon has benefited from those commercials while promoting civility as a centerpiece of his campaign.
“He’s done nothing; he’s never disavowed them,” she said. “He has not engaged in a civil campaign. Everything he has said is exactly in line with those ads.”
Bacon accused Eastman of being the problem when it comes to civility, pointing to comments she’s made saying the president committed treason.
“It crosses the line,” he said.
The two also disagreed on several policy positions that they’ve detailed before.
Bacon supports Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, while Eastman would’ve liked to see the president try to renegotiate it.
Bacon calls the tax overhaul bill a success and wants to make only minor tweaks, while Eastman says it was intended to help the very rich and corporations. She would raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 38 or 39 percent, she said.
And Eastman wants to see a ban on assault weapons, better background checks and a waiting period to buy a gun. Bacon believes the solution to gun violence lies in beefing up school security and cracking down on people who buy a gun for someone who isn’t legally allowed to have one.