They packed in, away from the heat under a big tent watching a debate sometimes hotter than the mid-day sun. Two candidates, one defending her title, the other trying to take that job away talked about they believe mattered to the crowd.
“We need this Farm Bill in this part of the country, especially with this drought I tell you. I wanted to know where both the candidates stood on it,” James Stebbins said following the debate.
“It was a good debate. It really was,” Stebbin’s wife, Connie said.
With an agriculture-based crowd in an agriculture-driven state, you'd expect nothing less than the crops in the fields to dictate the questions from constituents. Voters from opposing parties both focused on the same thing, the farm bill, but differed on which candidate they believe can get the best result.
“I don't think Kristi Noem is doing what she said she'd do. I think they should have passed the farm bill before they went on vacation,” Matt Varilek supporter Franklin Olson said.
“She's trying. It's hard to get stuff done with an urban Congress,” Noem supporter Clint Uthe said.
Farmers in the crowd say they also want assurance of a federal safety cushion, especially in a dry year.
“A lot of farmers are in trouble across a lot of the nation,” Uthe said.
“If I went on vacation when I had a field of beans to combine, I don't think that'd be a smart thing to do. And that's what I think they did,” Olson said.
Harvest is just a few months away and so is the November election. That’s good news for those on the fence like Stebbins, who says neither candidate has said enough to make him pick a side.
“Yes I still am undecided,” Stebbins said. “I'm going to watch more debates.”
You can watch Noem and Varilek debate live on KELOLAND-TV on November 2.