Axne, Young split on marijuana, Trump’s rally, classic rock, favorite coffee flavor

KCCI-TV's studio was the setting for the third debate between the candidates for Iowa's 3rd Congressional District, Oct. 12, 2020. (Screen shot from debate livestream)

A televised debate Monday between Democratic U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne and former GOP congressman David Young featured strong disagreements, some common ground and exclusive playlists.

The 3rd Congressional District debate sponsored by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register was at times like watching a high-speed political ping pong match. 

Should President Donald Trump hold his scheduled rally Wednesday in Des Moines less than two weeks after his COVID-19 diagnosis? 

Young: Sure, with the usual masks and social distancing. 

Axne: “Absolutely not, and I think it shows his carelessness …”

Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne speaks during a debate on KCCI-TV in Des Moines. (Screen shot from debate livestream)

Young accused Axne of telling people who voluntarily choose to go to Trump’s appearance they shouldn’t be able to make up their own mind. “I’m for freedom,” Young said. 

Both candidates objected to the recent history of immigrant families being separated at the border. Both also supported the idea of an improved path to citizenship for immigrants. 

“No parent should ever have to face that, and no child should never be left alone without their parents,” Axne said. “It’s a stain on our nation’s history,” she said of the Trump administration’s practice of separating families. 

Axne said she wants to see a more home-like environment where the families could stay together, but still provide education for the children. 

Said Young: “I did vote to make sure families weren’t going to be separated at the border,” Young said, noting the border must be secure.

The moderators asked the candidates where Iowa could find new markets for grain.

Republican David Young speaks during a debate Oct. 12, 2020, on KCCI-TV in Des Moines. (Screen shot from debate livestream)

Young suggested the Pacific Rim nations that would have been part of the Trans Pacific Partnership that President Trump rejected early in his term. “We have real opportunity there,” and should pursue individual trade agreements with the nations, Young said. 

Axne also supported looking for new international markets, and reopening the California market for Iowa’s ethanol. “Farmers need trade, not aid,” Axne said. 

Toward the end of the debate, the discussion veered off the usual debate fare.

One of the two moderators, KCCI’s Steve Karlin, asked the candidates if either one could recite the current price for hogs. Neither could, but Young rattled off the price for corn and soybeans and added, “I like bacon.”

Iowa is the nation’s top hog producer.

At the end of the debate, the moderators, Karlin and Des Moines Register reporter Stephen Gruber-Miller, asked a series of lightning round questions that gave the candidates a chance to be more personal. 

Should marijuana be legalized for all uses?  

Axne: If it’s a workable national plan, yes. 

Young: For medical purposes but not recreation. 

What’s on your playlist?   

Young: The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin.

Axne: Republica, Lenny Kravitz, Stevie Nicks, AC/DC, Rolling Stones and an assortment of rap.

Ranch dressing? 

Axne: Definite yes

Young: Moved his hand in a motion of indifference.

Favorite Olympic sport to watch? 

Young: Track and field.

Axne: Hockey.

Snack on the road? 

Axne: Banana. “It’s easy to transport.”

Young: Popcorn.

Favorite coffee treat: 

Young: Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte

Axne: Black coffee

Favorite season? 

In a rare fit of agreement, both said fall. 

Over the weeks leading up to the debate, Young and Axne sparred on health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and allegiance to party leadership. 

The election is Nov. 3, but many Iowans already are voting

Perry Beeman
Senior reporter Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.