SIOUX FALLS, SD -
In their final debate, Congresswoman Kristi Noem and her Democratic opponent Matt Varilek faced off just days before the election.
The Friday night debate was the last of nearly a half dozen the two candidates took part in this year.
Right away Noem's attendance record came up, putting the incumbent Congresswoman on defense.
"It's been a false issue and a smear campaign that has been started by Matt and the Democrats in South Dakota and it's something South Dakotans recognize that I work very hard on their behalf," Noem said.
"Then you finally said, well actually we went to seven out of 20 meetings,” Varilek responded. “Even if we give you the full benefit of the doubt seven out of 20 ag committee meetings when we're in a drought, when we're facing the need to write a new Farm Bill and when you represent an ag state like South Dakota that's not a good enough record," Varilek said.
Congresswoman Noem later accused Varilek of supporting cap and trade energy policies, claims the Democrat quickly refuted.
"Matt has talked about passing a national energy tax that would only drive up energy costs, that the South Dakota PUC did a study on that said it would increase South Dakota's utility bills by 48 percent," Noem said.
"In fact, I've never supported such a thing. You've dug around in some papers that I've written in an analytical way where I've said regarding a different thing that if you do this model this will happen, and if you do this model that will happen, that's analysis," Varilek said.
When asked about the Affordable Care Act, Varilek said Noem has been wasting time and money voting for repeal of the federal health care law.
"My view of the health care act is that it is by no means perfect and I'm willing to say that, and my view is that we should build on the good parts," Varilek said.
Noem says she does agree with some of the provisions Varilek supports including covering people with preexisting conditions and keeping kids on their parents insurance until they are 26.
"Both of those are provisions I absolutely support but I'll tell you the industry was going towards allowing 26 year olds to stay on their parents’ plans anyways. That was already happening in the industry and preexisting conditions could be covered by allowing people to pool across state lines," Noem said.
Both campaigns sent out statements quickly responding to Friday night’s debate.
Matt Varilek said that he "is the only candidate in this race who is clearly committed to getting to work and showing up for middle class families."
While Kristi Noem added that, "if South Dakotans want a leader who will fight for them, tackle the debt and rein in spending," she would be honored to have your vote.
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