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Joni Ernst’s soybean blowup shows debates really do still matter

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Art Cullen is editor of the Storm Lake Times in northwest Iowa. He is author of the book, “Storm Lake: Change, Resilience, and Hope from America’s Heartland.”

When Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield first met to debate a few weeks ago, the spectacle was unpleasant to watch. The two women accused each other of being corporate tools, and each demanded an apology in return. Moderator David Yepsen was forced to stop the shouting and ask: “Is this the way Iowans expect their senator to act?”

Not much to learn there. But — whoa, Nellie — the candidates had a second debate Thursday night that will not be soon forgotten. Moderator Ron Steele asked Greenfield what the break-even price of a bushel of corn was for an Iowa farmer. Three dollars and 68 cents, she replied, adding that it depends on the individual farmer’s cost structure. Right answer! She can expect a gold star from the Iowa State University extension service.

Steele then asked Ernst to state the break-even price for soybeans. Ernst wasn’t sure. “You grew up on a farm. You should know this,” Steele said. Ernst guessed: Maybe $5.50 per bushel? “Would you care to give it another try?” asked co-moderator Matt Breen. No thanks, Ernst replied which was........

© Washington Post

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