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Squaring Off For The U.S. Senate

June 5, 2014, 10:01 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Squaring Off For The U.S. Senate

Now there are four.

Four candidates are running for South Dakota's U.S. Senate seat in November.

The race is not only between Republican Mike Rounds and Democrat Rick Weiland but two Independents will also be running for the seat.

"There is a major difference between what I want to see happen in Washington D.C. and what my competition wants to see happen," Rounds said.

What Rounds wants to see is a piece-by-piece repeal of the individual and employee mandates under the Affordable Care Act.

He also wants to see Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid retired. He says that will only happen if South Dakotans elect him to replace outgoing Democratic Senator Tim Johnson.

"We're going to do our best to convince them that if they are voting for someone else they are voting for a very liberal agenda in Washington," Rounds said.

Rounds’ competition includes Weiland, former Republican state lawmaker turned Independent candidate Gordon Howie and former three-term Republican U.S. Senator Larry Pressler; who is also running as an Independent.

"I consider myself a moderate conservative on fiscal matters. I'll work hard to reduce the deficit by enhancing revenues and reducing spending," Pressler said.

The Vietnam veteran is the only candidate who has actually served in the U.S. Senate and he says he has the experience to make another run. While Rounds wants to repeal Obamacare Pressler says that's not likely to happen.

"I don't think it's realistic to repeal it because we won't get a cloture-proof Senate first of all, and second of all the president would veto it. So, what we have to do now is the hard daily work of improving Obamacare for South Dakota," Pressler said.

Rounds says the realistic way to repeal Obamacare is in sections.

"You take it apart piece by piece. You roll up your sleeves and you replace it with common sense market-driven approaches," Rounds said.

Weiland says that's the wrong approach. His proposal is to expand Medicare and offer it to every American - not just seniors.

"I have offered my plan which is called 'Medicare Choice.' I want to give everybody in South Dakota and in the country an opportunity to buy into Medicare," Weiland said.

Weiland says it's the best way to offer a true public option for health insurance that will compete with private insurance and lower prices.

"Instead of being forced to buy private insurance give them an opportunity to buy into Medicare. That'll make the private insurance more affordable. I think people will buy into Medicare because 140,000 people in South Dakota currently are on it and wouldn't give it up for anything," Weiland said.

Former state lawmaker Gordon Howie is focused on appealing to conservative South Dakotans in this four-way race.

"That's where my votes will come from that conservative base that looks at the field of candidates and says my choice is simple; either I elect a candidate who is conservative with Republican principles, or I have a field of three moderates from which to choose," Howie said.

Howie says his message is one of faith and freedom.

"We're going to base this campaign on what's good for America and what's good for South Dakota. That is less government and more fiscal responsibility," Howie said.

Weiland likes where his message falls in the race because he's the only Democrat.

"You've got three Republicans and one Democrat. I think we've got a real serious chance at winning this," Weiland said.

Pressler likes his chances as an Independent in a divided Congress.

"On the national level I could be one of a small group of people as a fulcrum in the U.S. Senate to end the poisonous, almost childlike, debating between Republicans and Democrats that goes on in the Senate," Pressler said.

Rounds says as the Republican nominee he'll get results.

"I'm not going to Washington D.C. to sit back and relax and enjoy it I'm going to get it done. We're running out of time," Rounds said.

And that clock is ticking as voters wait to make their decision in November.

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