Iowa Public Television

 

CAMPAIGN 2002: Candidate For United States Senate

posted on October 28, 2002

LIVE FROM THE STUDIOS OF IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, IT'S "THE CANDIDATES WITH DAVID YEPSEN." TONIGHT DAVID YEPSEN'S GUEST IS REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN GREG GANSKE, CANDIDATE FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE. HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: GOOD EVENING. TONIGHT WE BEGIN A FOUR-PART SERIES FOCUSING ON TWO OF THE HIGH-PROFILE CAMPAIGNS ON THE 2002 BALLOT. THIS WEEK OUR SPOTLIGHT IS ON THE MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATES IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE AND IN THE CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA. THIS EVENING WE WELCOME TO OUR IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION STUDIOS CONGRESSMAN GREG GANSKE, WHO IS LEAVING THE U.S. HOUSE AFTER FOUR TERMS TO CHALLENGE SENATOR TOM HARKIN. THE BALANCE OF OUR SCHEDULE READS THIS WAY. ON MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY OF THIS WEEK, LIVE AT 6:30 P.M., WE DISCUSS THE POLICY AND POLITICS OF THE HARKIN-GANSKE CAMPAIGN, AND THE VILSACK-GROSS CAMPAIGN AS WELL. DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK JOINS US TOMORROW EVENING AT 6:30. ON WEDNESDAY VILSACK'S REPUBLICAN CHALLENGER, DOUG GROSS, WILL BE HERE. AND ON THURSDAY EVENING DEMOCRATIC SENATOR TOM HARKIN STATES HIS CASE. CONGRESSMAN GANSKE, OUR GUEST THIS EVENING, HAS MADE HIS MARK IN TWO PROFESSIONS: IN THE SURGICAL SUITE AND IN THE HALLS OF CONGRESS. PRIOR TO THE ELECTION OF 1994, CONGRESSMAN GANSKE WAS "DR. GANSKE," A RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON IN DES MOINES. DR. GANSKE BURST ONTO THE IOWA POLITICAL SCENE IN 1994, POSTING A STUNNING ELECTION VICTORY AGAINST INCUMBENT CONGRESSMAN NEAL SMITH, A LONGTIME FIXTURE ON THE IOWA POLITICAL LANDSCAPE. CONGRESSMAN GANSKE WAS A WINNER IN THE REPUBLICAN LANDSLIDE OF '94, WHEN THE G.O.P. TOOK CONTROL OF BOTH THE U.S. HOUSE AND THE U.S. SENATE. CONGRESSMAN GANSKE, WELCOME ONCE AGAIN TO IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

Ganske: APPRECIATE IT.

Yepsen: WE WANT TO OPEN OUR CONVERSATION TONIGHT WITH A QUESTION ABOUT THE EDGE OF THE NEWS. YOU WERE IN CEDAR RAPIDS YESTERDAY TRYING TO COURT REPUBLICAN CONSERVATIVES IN THIS RACE, SPECIFICALLY SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED YOUR PRIMARY OPPONENT BILL SALIER. WHAT DOES IT SAY THAT HERE WE ARE THIS CLOSE TO THE END OF AN ELECTION AND YOU'RE HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT COURTING THE CONNSERVATIVES? HAVE YOU FAILED TO SHORE UP THE G.O.P. BASE HERE?

Ganske: WELL, DAVID, LET ME JUST FIRST SAY THANK YOU FOR HOSTING THESE EVENTS. I'VE ENJOYED BEING ON "IOWA PRESS" MANY TIMES. BEING WITH YOU TAKES ME BACK TO THE DAYS WHEN WE WERE STUDENTS TOGETHER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA AND WE WERE BOTH ON THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA STUDENT SENATE.

Yepsen: IT GOES BACK A LONG WAY.

Ganske: IT GOES BACK A WAYS AND HERE WE ARE NOW; YOU'RE INTERVIEWING ME WHEN I'M RUNNING FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE. IT'S PRETTY AMAZING REALLY. THE LAST TIME I WAS ON YOUR PROGRAM, I GOT A PHONE CALL AFTERWARDS FROM MY MOTHER, AND SHE SAID, "GREG, DON'T SLOUCH DOWN. SIT UP STRAIGHT." SO IF YOU SEE ME SLOUCHING, GIVE ME A LITTLE KICK UNDER THE TABLE.

Yepsen: OUR MOTHERS ARE LIKE THAT.

Ganske: THAT'S RIGHT, OUR MOMS ARE LIKE THAT. IN FACT, EVERY FRIDAY MY MOM GIVES ME A PHONE CALL. WHEN THE NEW ATTACK ADS COME ON, I'M USUALLY TRAVELING IN FROM THE STATE, MY CELL PHONE GOES OFF, AND MOM IS SAYING, "HEY DID YOU HEARTHE LATEST ONE? ANSWER THAT ONE"!

Yepsen: OUR MOTHERS ARE ALWAYS OUR BIGGEST FANS.

Ganske: THEY ARE. WELL, THE EVENTS THAT WE DID IN CEDAR RAPIDS WERE FUN, BECAUSE WE DID A VETERANS EVENT WITH SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN AND THEN WE ATTENDED AN EVENT THAT BILL SALIER WAS HAVING FOR HIS SUPPORTERS IN SUPPORT OF HIS PAC, HIS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE. I REALLY THINK THAT WE ARE UNITING ALL FACTIONS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. THEY ARE COMING TOGETHER. THEY ARE ENERGIZED. THEY THINK IT'S TIME TO SEND TOM HARKIN INTO RETIREMENT. AND I AM SENSING FROM MY CONSERVATIVES, PARTICULARLY, AS WE HAVE ALL ALONG, A GREAT DEAL OF ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS ELECTION. SO I FEEL REAL GOOD ABOUT IT.

Yepsen: WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO SAY HARKIN HAS BEEN AHEAD IN THE POLLS, HE'S LED YOU IN ALL THE POLLS BY DIFFERENT MARGINS, DEMOCRATS SEEM TO BE DOING A BETTER JOB THAN REPUBLICANS IN GETTING OUT ABSENTEE BALLOTS? IS THIS RACE OVER?

Ganske: OH, NO. THIS IS GOING TO BE, I THINK, THE BIGGEST UPSET IN IOWA HISTORY. YOU MENTIONED WHEN I BEAT NEAL SMITH IN 1994. NOBODY THOUGHT THAT I COULD BEAT A 36-YEAR INCUMBENT, AND WE DID. AND, DAVID, I WILL TELL YOU WE ARE THIS CLOSE AND WE ARE CLOSER TODAY THAN I WAS BACK IN 1994 AT THIS STAGE. IN FACT, WE'RE SIGNIFICANTLY CLOSER FOR BEING EIGHT DAYS OUT THAN SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY WAS WHEN HE BEAT SENATOR JOHN CULVER. SO I'M REALLY SENSING SOME MOVEMENT. FURTHERMORE, I THINK TOM HARKIN UNDERSTANDS THAT. I MEAN, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN HIM PULL BACK ON ANY OF HIS ATTACK ADS.

Yepsen: LET'S BACK UP HERE THIS EVENING, CONGRESSMAN. AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU AND I HAVE CERTAINLY KNOWN EACH OTHER FOR A LONG TIME, BUT THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW YOU, PARTICULARLY THOSE IN EASTERN IOWA. LET'S DO THIS AS KIND OF A JOB INTERVIEW, IF YOU WILL. WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE A UNITED STATES SENATOR?

Ganske: I WANT TO BE A UNITED STATES SENATOR BECAUSE I WANT TO GET SOME STUFF DONE IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. WE HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS, AND I HOPE WE HAVE SOME TIME TO TALK ABOUT IMPORTANT THINGS LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY AND HEALTH CARESECURITY AND ECONOMIC SECURITY AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN THIS SHORT PERIOD THAT WE HAVE TONIGHT. WHEN I WAS IN MEDICAL PRACTICE, I WOULD SIT DOWN WITH A PATIENT, WE'D DISCUSS THE SOLUTIONS, WE'D MAKE A DECISION TOGETHER, AND WE'D IMPLEMENT THAT DECISION AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM. AND I'VE TRIED TO TAKE THAT TYPE OF PROBLEM SOLVING TO WASHINGTON, AND I'VE ENJOYED IT SO MUCH. I THINK THE WAY TO LEAD IS FIRST TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE, NEXT TO LEARN FROM THEM, THEN TRY TO HELPTHEM. IF YOU CAN DO THE FIRST THREE, THEN THEY WILL LET YOU LEAD. I THINK I HAVE BEEN EFFECTIVE IN THE HOUSE. I'VE BEEN RECOGNIZED FOR THAT. I'VE MOVED LEGISLATION FORWARD IN AN INDEPENDENT WAY, WORKING IN A BIPARTISAN WAY WITH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS, AS YOU KNOW, TO MOVE LEGISLATION TO SOLVE PROBLEMS FARTHER THAN ANYONE WOULD THINK AND AGAINST SOME VERY POWERFUL SPECIAL INTERESTS. I WOULD LIKE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO THAT IN THE UNITED STATES SENATE. I WAS BROUGHT UP BY MY MOM AND DAD IN MANCHESTER, IOWA, TO THINK THAT PUBLIC SERVICE IS VERY IMPORTANT AND HELPING PEOPLE IS IMPORTANT. THAT'S WHY I WE WENT INTO MEDICINE, TO HELP PEOPLE. THAT'S WHY I'M IN POLITICS, TO HELP PEOPLE TOO.

Yepsen: TALK TO THE UNDECIDED VOTER. POLLS SHOW 10, 15 PERCENT OF THE ELECTORATE STILL MAYBE HAS SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE GOING TO DO ON ELECTION DAY. STATE YOUR CASE FOR THAT UNDECIDED VOTER. WHY SHOULD THEY VOTE FOR GREG GANSKE?

Ganske: I THINK TOM HARKIN HAS MOVED AWAY FROM IOWA, BOTH PHYSICALLY AND IN VALUES, AND IS VERY EXTREME IN A LOT OF HIS POSITIONS. AND WE CAN GO THROUGH THAT. YOU'VE SEEN SOME OF THEM ON TV. FOR INSTANCE, HE SAYS THAT HE THINKS HUMAN CLONING WOULD BE RIGHT AND PROPER. YOU'VE SEEN IT HIS OWN WORDS -- YOU'VE SEEN ON TV IN HIS OWN WORDS THAT HE WOULD LIKE TO BAN THE SALE, MANUFACTURING, IMPORTATION OF GUNS. THOSE ARE REALLY EXTREME THINGS. OUT IN WASHINGTON, HE SAID THAT SPENDING $6 BILLION OF TAXPAYER MONEY WAS JUST PENCIL DUST. THAT'S AN INDICATION TO IOWANS THAT HE'S MOVED AWAY, THAT HE'S TOO EXTREME. BY CONTRAST, I'M LOOKING AT SOME THINGS THAT I THINK ARE MAINSTREAM FOR IOWA. I THINK WE NEED TO PRESERVE THEM AND STRENGTHEN SOCIAL SECURITY, AND WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE DO HAVE SOME COMING PROBLEMS DOWN THE ROAD. WHEN WE BABY BOOMERS, YOU AND I, RETIRE, THERE WILL BE ONE NEW RETIREE EVERY EIGHT SECONDS. WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO SHORE THAT UP. I HEAR FROM SENIOR CITIZENS THAT THEIR NUMBER ONE CONCERN IS THE HIGH COST OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. I HAVE SOME HEALTH BACKGROUND AND I'VE WORKED EFFECTIVELY ON HEALTH ISSUES. I WANT TO HELP WITH THAT. SO I THINK THAT I CAN BE EFFECTIVE, AND I THINK THAT WE WON'T LOSE ANYTHING, DAVID,IF I REPLACE TOM HARKIN IN TERMS OF HIS CLOUT OR HIS SENIORITY, AND HERE'S WHY. IF I GET ELECTED AND THE REPUBLICANS TAKE THE MAJORITY, THEN SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY BECOMES CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE MOST POWERFUL COMMITTEE IN WASHINGTON. THAT WOULD GIVE US AN IOWAN AS CHAIRMAN WHO COULD WRITE THE BILL TO HELP OUR LOW MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT, WHICH IS AFFECTING ALL OF OUR SMALL TOWN AND RURAL HOSPITALS.

Yepsen: BUT, CONGRESSMAN, IS THAT WORTH CASHIERING THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE OR THE RANKING MEMBER ON THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE TO GET CHUCK GRASSLEY THE CHAIRMANSHIP?

Ganske: I THINK MOST OBSERVERS OUT IN WASHINGTON WOULD SAY THERE'S NO COMPARISON BETWEEN THE POWER AND THE ABILITY TO DO THINGS GOOD FOR IOWA IN THE CHAIRMANSHIP OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. I WOULD ALSO SAY THIS, DAVID -- AND THIS IS A POINT THAT SENATOR TRENT LOTT MADE -- WHEN A REPORTER ASKED HIM, "WELL, WHAT ABOUT TOM HARKIN AND LOSING HIS CHAIRMANSHIP?" AND SENATOR LOTT SAID THIS: YOU KNOW, WE IN THE SOUTHERN STATES WITH LOW POPULATION LIKE IOWA HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED AT THIS VERY CAREFULLY, AND WE ALWAYS TRY TO RETAIN ONE SENIOR SENATOR AND THEN ONE SENATOR WHO'S MOVING UP IN SENIORITY SO THAT WE NEVER LOSE BOTH SENATORS WITH SENIORITY AT THE SAME TIME. I THINK IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE. WE NEED TO START TO DEVELOPING SOMEBODY WHO HAS SOME SENIORITY TO COVER THE DAY, FOR INSTANCE, WHEN SENATOR GRASSLEY MAY RETIRE. NOW, I'M ASSUMING THAT HE'S GOING TO RUN AGAIN. HE MAY SET THE RECORD. HE MAY BE STROM THURMAN, BUT THAT'S SOMETHING WE OUGHT TO CONSIDER. FURTHERMORE AND FINALLY, I WOULD JUST SAY THIS, WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO IOWA TO HAVE A SENATOR WITH SENIORITY WHEN HE CANCELS OUT CHUCK GRASSLEY'S VOTE 68 PERCENT OF THE TIME AND THEN WE END UP WITH NO VOTE OR WHEN HE VOTES WITH SOUTH DAKOTA INSTEAD OF IOWA AND SOUTH DAKOTA THEN HAS THREE VOTES AND IOWA ONLY HAS ONE.

Yepsen: YOU MENTIONED THE ISSUE OF SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM. SENATOR HARKIN HAS POUNDED YOU ALL OVER THE STATE ACCUSING YOU OF WANTING TO PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY. WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON SOCIAL SECURITY?

Ganske: I DON'T WANT TO PRIVATIZE SOCIAL SECURITY. THAT'S A CODE WORD THAT TOM HARKIN AND OTHER DEMOCRATS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE USING TO SCARE SENIORS TO MAKE THEM THINK THAT THEY WOULD LOSE THEIR SOCIAL SECURITY. THIS IS WHAT I SAY: NO CHANGE FOR ANYONE OVER FIFTY; NO LOSS OF FUNDS TO THE TRUST FUND; FOR A YOUNGER WORKER, AN OPTION TO PUT A SMALL AMOUNT OF THEIR PAYROLL TAX INTO AN ACCOUNT ADMINISTERED IN SOCIAL SECURITY WHERE THEY WOULD HAVE A CHOICE TO GET A HIGHER RATE OF RETURN IN THE MARKET, BUT THAT WOULD BE A CHOICE. AND HERE'S ONE OF TOM HARKIN'S DECEPTIVE ADS. HE'S GOT AN AD ON TV SAYING THAT I WOULD FORCE PEOPLE TO INVEST IN THE MARKET. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY FALSE. THE LEGISLATION ICOSPONSORED DOES NOT SAY THAT. IN FACT, TOM HARKIN'S OWN EXPLANATION OF HIS AD SAYS THAT THAT'S A CHOICE. BUT, DAVID, HERE'S THE IMPORTANT POINT. WHEN WE BABY BOOMERS RETIRE, WITH ALL THE NEW RETIREES, THE NONPARTISAN SOCIAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE SAYS THE CHOICE IS THEN. IF WE DO NOTHING NOW, IT WILL BE EITHER A 25-PERCENT REDUCTION IN BENEFITS OR A 50-PERCENT INCREASE IN THE PAYROLL TAX, A TERRIBLE THING TO HAPPEN TO SENIORS AND NOT A GOOD THING TO HAPPEN TO YOUNGER WORKERS. WE HAVE TO FIND AND WORK TOGETHER IN A BIPARTISAN WAY TO FIX THIS. THAT'S WHY FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATORS LIKE BOB KERRY OR FORMERDEMOCRATIC SENATOR PATRICK MOYNAHAN OR, FOR THAT MATTER, APPARENTLY THE NEW DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE IN MINNESOTA, WALTER MONDALE, HAVE SAID THINGS SIMILAR TO I. THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE DEMOCRATS HAVE SAID -- JAMES CARVILLE, WE ALL KNOW HIM. HE'S ON THE TALK SHOWS. HE SENT OUT A MEMO ABOUT A YEAR AGO. TO ALL OF HIS DEMOCRATS HE SAID, “BASH REPUBLICANS ON PRIVATIZATION. IT MAY NOT BE ACCURATE, BUT IT SURE WILL BE SO MUCH FUN.” I THINK WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, I WANT TO BACK UP FOR A MINUTE. AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT YOU, SO LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION BRIAN LAMB ALWAYS LIKES TO ASK HIS VIEWERS ON THE “BOOKNOTES” PROGRAM ON C-SPAN. WHO IS GREG GANSKE?

Ganske: I'M SOMEBODY WHO GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN IN NORTHEAST IOWA. I WORKED IN MY DAD'S GROCERY STORE. I COME FROM A FAMILY OF MODEST MEANS AND WORKED MY WAY THROUGH COLLEGE AND TOOK OUT COLLEGE STUDENT LOANS. BY THE WAY, I VOTED TO INCREASE COLLEGE LOAN FUNDING BY 72 PERCENT. I WAS VERY FORTUNATE WHEN I WENT TO MEDICAL SCHOOL. I HAD THE LUCKIEST DAY OF MY LIFE. I MET MY WIFE, CORRINE. SHE'S A FAMILY PHYSICIAN. AFTER DOING TRAINING ON BOTH COASTS, WE CAME BACK TO IOWA TO BE CLOSE TO OUR FAMILIES AND TO RAISE OUR KIDS. AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HERE IS VERY IMPORTANT. I FEEL VERY STRONGLY ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION. THEN I WAS A RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGEON TAKING CARE OF FARMERS WITH HAND INJURIES AND WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER AND CHILDREN WITH BIRTH DEFECTS. HOWEVER, I ALSO FELT THERE WERE SOME THINGS THAT WERE WRONG IN THE PUBLIC POLICY ARENA. WEHAD THOSE HUGE NATIONAL DEBTS EVERY YEAR, DEFICITS, AND WE HAD A WELFARE SYSTEM THAT WAS BROKE. I WOULD SEE SOME OF THAT IN MY PRACTICE, AND I THOUGHT I'D LIKE TO HELP FIX THAT. SO I RAN FOR CONGRESS. IT JUST GOES TO SHOW, DAVID, YOU BETTER WATCH OUT FOR WHAT YOU WISH FOR BECAUSE YOU MAY GET IT.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, HOW ARE YOU MISUNDERSTOOD? YOU'VE BEEN AROUND SINCE 1994, AS I MENTIONED. I'VE WRITTEN A LOT ABOUT YOU. OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TOO. I'M SURE CANDIDATES OFTENTIMES FEEL LIKE THEY DON'T REALLY GET THROUGH TO PEOPLE, THAT THEY’RE MISUNDERSTOOD, THAT THEIR IMAGE HAS BEEN DISTORTED BY A LOT OF THESE ATTACK ADS. SO I WANT TO GIVE YOU AN OPPORTUNITY HERE THIS EVENING: HOW ARE YOU MISUNDERSTOOD?

Ganske: WELL, I THINK MY OPPONENT WOULD LIKE PEOPLE IN IOWA TO THINK THAT I DON'T CARE ABOUT HEALTH CARE OR THAT I DON'T CARE ABOUT EDUCATION OR THAT I DON'T CARE ABOUT SENIOR CITIZENS. WELL, LOOK, MY MOM AND DAD DEPEND ON SOCIAL SECURITY. I'D NEVER DO ANYTHING TO HURT IT. CORRINE AND I HAVE SENT OUR KIDSTO BOTH PAROCHIAL AND PUBLIC SCHOOL HERE IN IOWA. WE'VE GONE TO THE SCHOOL MEETINGS. WE'VE GONE TO SCHOOL EVENTS. WE PAY OUR SCHOOL PROPERTY TAXES. TOM HARKIN SENT HIS CHILDREN TO SCHOOL ON THE EAST COAST. YOU KNOW, MAYBE, DAVE, THAT EXPLAINS WHY TOM HARKIN AND I HAVE A DIFFERENCE ON EDUCATION. I BELIEVE IN LOCAL CONTROL. I'VE TRIED TO MOVE FEDERAL DOLLARS TO IOWA AND LET SCHOOL BOARDS AND PRINCIPALS AND TEACHERS MAKE THAT DECISION. TOM HARKIN WANTS AN EVER-LARGER ROLE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THESE ARE SOME THINGS FROM MY PAST THAT INFLUENCE MY SOME OF MY DECISIONS NOW.

Yepsen: YOU STARTED DOWN THIS PATH, SO DESCRIBE YOUR POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY FOR ME. HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?

Ganske: I WOULD SAY THAT I'M A COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE.

Yepsen: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Ganske: THAT MEANS THAT YOU NEED TO BE RESPONSIBLE WITH THE TAXPAYER DOLLAR, WHICH I HAVE BEEN. I ALWAYS RECEIVE THESE AWARDS FOR CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE. IT MEANS THAT YOU TRY TO FIND SOLUTIONS TO HELP PEOPLE ON THINGS LIKE EDUCATION, WELFARE REFORM. IT MEANS THAT YOU CARE. SOMETIMES WHEN YOU CARE, THAT MEANS THAT YOU JUST CAN'T PROMISE EVERYTHING TO EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME. YOU HAVE TO MAKE DECISIONS ON HOW TO ALLOCATE SCARCE TAXPAYER DOLLARS. YOU KNOW, TOM HARKIN IS AT THE VERY EXTREME END OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM, MORE LIBERAL THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE SENATE EXCEPT BARBARA BOXER. I THINK THOSE POSITIONS IS TYPICALLY, SOMEBODY WITH THAT TYPE OF PHILOSOPHY, FEELS LIKE THEY WANT TO HAVE EVER-LARGER FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, THEY VOTE FOR HIGHER TAXES, AND THEY VOTE FOR GREATER GOVERNMENT REGULATION. AND I -- I VOTE FOR A LIMITED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. I VOTE TO REFORM THE TAX CODE TO CUT TAXES AND TO REDUCE GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS. IN GENERAL, THAT'S A PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TOM HARKIN AND ME.

Yepsen: WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THAT CHARGE IS GOING TO WORK THIS TIME WHEN IT NEVER HAS BEFORE? REPUBLICANS HAVE RUN AGAINST TOM HARKIN SINCE 1972, ACCUSING HIM OF BEING TOO LIBERAL AND TOO EXTREME AND HOUSE IN THE BAHAMAS. THERE'S JUST BEEN NO EVIDENCE THAT THAT WORKS WITH THE IOWA ELECTORATE. PEOPLE DON'T SEEM TO CARE. WHY DO YOU THINK IT'S GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS TIME, CONGRESSMAN?

Ganske: WELL, DAVID, YOU KNOW THAT I WAS A WRESTLE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE -- FOR A LITTLE WHILE IN COLLEGE. AND I REMEMBER GOING TO THE 1966 NCAA WRESTLING TOURNAMENT, AND THERE WAS A WRESTLER FROM JAPAN FOR OKLAHOMA STATE, THREE-TIME NCAA CHAMPION, NEVER BEAT. DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? HE MUST HAVE PICKED THIS UP IN OKLAHOMA. HE SAID, “AIN'T NEVER A HORSE THAT CAN'T BE RODE, AND AIN'T NEVER A MAN THAT CAN'T BE THROWED.” HONESTLY, WE ARE GETTING CLOSER. TOM HARKIN HAS HAD CLOSER AND CLOSER ELECTIONS. DESPITE OUTSPENDING JIM LIGHTFOOT BY ABOUT 3.5 MILLION LAST TIME, LIGHTFOOT ALMOST BEAT HIM. AND I JUST FEEL SO POSITIVE ABOUT THIS THAT I'M PUTTING MY MONEY ON THIS RACE.

Yepsen: I THINK IT PROBABLY SAYS A LOT ABOUT YOU THAT YOU WERE A WRESTLER. THAT OUGHT TO TELL PEOPLE SOMETHING ABOUT TENACITY.

Ganske: I THINK IT DOES. YOU KNOW, WHEN I'M TRAVELING AROUND THE STATE, PEOPLE ARE LOOKING -- I GO INTO A FILLING STATION OR SOMETHING AND THEY LOOK AT ME AND THEY SAY, "ARE YOU GREG GANSKE?" I'LL SAY, "YES." THEY'LL LOOK ME UP AND DOWN AND THEY’LL SAY, "WE THOUGHT YOU'D BE TALLER." MY MOTHER, DAVID, SAYS THAT IF I HADN'T CUT THAT WEIGHT WRESTLING IN HIGH SCHOOL, I WOULD HAVE BEEN6 FOOT TALL, BUT I DON'T BELIEVE THAT.

Yepsen: GO BACK TO YOUR CAREER IN THE CONGRESS. WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS? WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?

Ganske: I THINK ONE OF MY BIGGEST THRILLS WAS WHEN I WAS A FRESHMAN. WE HAD THIS BIG DEBATE ON THE BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION. AS A FRESHMAN, THE SPEAKER OUT OF THE HOUSE, NEWT GINGRICH, CALLED ON ME TO GIVE THE CLOSING ARGUMENT ON THE FLOOR OF CONGRESS FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT, AND IT WAS PRETTY EXCITING WHEN IT PASSED THE HOUSE. IT DIDN'T PASS THE SENATE, BUT I DO THINK THAT IT WOULD PROVIDE SOME REAL FISCAL RESTRAINTS AND COMMON SENSE IN THAT. THIS WAS A BIG THRILL.

Yepsen: ANY SHORTCOMING? ANY FAILURE? ANY APPOINTMENTS?

Ganske: YEAH, I THINK THAT WE ARE THIS CLOSE TO HAVING A PATIENT BILL OF RIGHTS. THE BILL THAT PASSED THE HOUSE WAS 95-PERCENT VERBATIM THE WAY THAT I WROTE IT AND EXACTLY THE WAY, THEN, IT WILL PASS THE SENATE. WE HAVE ASMALL DIFFERENCE ON THE ENFORCEMENT PROVISION. UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVEN'T EVEN BEEN ABLE TO GO TO CONFERENCE BECAUSE SENATOR DASCHLE, THE MAJORITY LEADER IN THE SENATE, WOULD CALL THE CONFERENCE, AND HE HASN'T DONE THAT. AND WE ARE SO CLOSE. ALL THOSE YEARS OF HARD WORK TRYING TO MOVE THIS, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THIS WORK COMPLETED.

Yepsen: I'D LIKE TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE ROLE OF UNITED STATES SENATOR. DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF A SENATOR AS SOMEONE WHO REPRESENTS THE WISHES OF THE PEOPLE, OR DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF A SENATOR AS SOMEONE WHO GIVES US YOUR BEST JUDGMENT?

Ganske: I THINK IT'S BOTH.

Yepsen: COME ON, THAT'S A COP-OUT.

Ganske: BUT IT IS THE TRUTH BECAUSE NOBODY SHOULD GO TO CONGRESS, ESPECIALLY FOR AN IMPORTANT POSITION LIKE THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND THINK THAT THEY HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS, BECAUSE WE DON'T. MY DOOR IS OPEN TO EVERYONE FROM IOWA, ALL THE GROUPS. THAT'S PART OF THE REASON I LIVE HERE IN IOWA, DAVID. WHEN I GO TO THE SUPERMARKET OR GO TO THE FILLING STATION, PEOPLE STOP ME AND THEY TELL ME WHAT THEY'RE THINKING AND YOU REMAIN CONNECTED AND YOU LEARN, BECAUSE WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE REPRESENTATIVES AS WELL AS LEADERS. SO WHEN I HAVE TO FACE A DECISION LIKE THE VOTE ON IRAQ, I TAKE THAT VERY SERIOUSLY AND I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IOWANS ARE THINKING. AND THEN I THINK ABOUT IT A LOT. I'LL DO SOME READING AND I'LL TALK TO SOME MORE PEOPLE. THAT HELPS ME MAKE THESE DECISIONS.

Yepsen: AS A LEADER IN IOWA, SOMETIMES YOU'RE CALLED UPON TO ASK FOR SOME FOLLOWERSHIP AS WELL. IT'S NOT JUST A MATTER OF REFLECTING WHAT THE VIEWS OF THE PEOPLE ARE. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT IOWANS TO DO DIFFERENTLY? TELL USSOMETHING WE MAY NOT WANT TO HEAR THAT YOU THINK WE NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY IN THIS STATE?

Ganske: WELL, I WISH THAT WE COULD GET PAST THESE NEGATIVE ADS.

Yepsen: SO YOU WANT US TO IGNORE THE ADS. THAT'S PRETTY EASY TO DO, ISN'T IT?

Ganske: ACTUALLY MY TWO MOST SUCCESSFUL ADS ARE MY WIFE ON TV AND SENATOR GRASSLEY. IN FACT, MY WIFE IS GETTING FAN MAIL NOW ON THIS. BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER, THOUGH, IS THAT THE PUBLIC DOES WATCH THOSE NEGATIVE ATTACK ADS AND IT DOES INFLUENCE HOW THEY VOTE. SO EVEN THOUGH MANY TIMES THEY SAY, "WE DON'TLIKE THOSE" OR WHATEVER, YOU CANNOT UNILATERALLY DISARM. BUT THE PROBLEM WITH IT, DAVID, IS THAT IT DOES TURN PEOPLE OFF ON POLITICS. MY DAUGHTER JUST GRADUATED FROM A COLLEGE. SHE'S WORKING ON MY CAMPAIGN BEFORE SHE MOVES ON TO HER FIELD, SO I WENT TO HER COMMENCEMENT AND I TALKED TO A LOT OF HER FRIENDS. I'M SO UNHAPPY THAT ALMOST NONE OF THEM HAD ANY INTEREST AT ALL IN POLITICS, BECAUSE I THINK POLITICS IS EXCEEDINGLY IMPORTANT.

Yepsen: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THE BIG PICTURE A LITTLE BIT. WHAT'S THE MOST SINGLE, MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FACING IOWA, AND WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO ABOUT IT?

Ganske: I THINK THE SINGLE, MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, VIS-A-VIS IOWA, IS OUR LOW MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT. GROWING UP IN THAT SMALL TOWN IN NORTHEAST IOWA IN MANCHESTER, 24-BED HOSPITAL, IF THAT HOSPITAL CLOSE -- AND THERE ARE MANY, MANY HOSPITALS ON THE VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY BECAUSE OF AN UNFAIR FUNDING FORMULA -- THEN NOW IF YOU HAVE YOUR HEART ATTACK IN MANCHESTER, YOU'VE GOT A 65-MILE DRIVE TO ST. LUKES IN CEDAR RAPIDS, AND I WOULD PRAY THAT YOU MAKE IT. OR A WOMAN WHO WANTS TO DELIVER A BABY, ARE WE GOING BACK TO PIONEER DAYS? THIS IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT. WE LOSE AS MUCH AS A BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON THIS, AND IT'S AN ECONOMIC FACTOR AS WELL. I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT 50 PAGES OF LEGISLATIVE LANGUAGE ON HOW TO FIX THOSE FUNDING FORMULAS. I HAVE SAT DOWN WITH CHUCK GRASSLEY; WE'VE TALKED ABOUT HOW TO DO THIS. IF I CAN HELP CHUCK GRASSLEY INTO THAT CHAIRMANSHIP, HE CAN PUT HIS NAME ON THAT BILL, I DON'T CARE. WE COULD HAVE A CHANCE TO FIX THAT. I THINK OVERALL THAT'S PROBABLY THE THING THAT WE NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST, BUT THERE ARE MANY OTHER THINGS LIKE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AND TRADE AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

Yepsen: TALK ABOUT PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

Ganske: WELL, BEING A PHYSICIAN, I KNOW HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS. AND MY DAD -- MY MOTHER AND FATHER HAVE BEEN ILL. DAD PROBABLY WOULDN'T BE ALIVE WITHOUT HISPRESCRIPTION DRUGS.

Yepsen: EVERYBODY IS FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. TOM HARKIN SAYS YOUR PLAN IS A PLACEBO, THAT IT WOULDN'T BE EFFECTIVE.

Ganske: OUR PLAN IS A VERY GOOD PLAN. IT'S A $350-BILLION EXPANSION OF MEDICARE. THAT'S NOT PENCIL DUST, TOM HARKIN. THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE SAYS THAT 95 PERCENT OF SENIORS WOULD THINK IT WAS SO GOOD, THEY WOULD VOLUNTARILY JOIN IT. FOR THE AVERAGE IOWAN WITH AVERAGE DRUG COSTS OF $2,150,THEY WOULD SAVE 50 PERCENT. FOR A LOW INCOME SENIOR, THEY WOULDN'T EVEN HAVE TO PAY PREMIUMS, COPAYMENTS, OR DEDUCTIBLES. AND AARP, WHICH IS NOT A REPUBLICAN ORGANIZATION BY ANY MEANS, HAS SAID ABOUT THE LOW INCOME PROVISIONS THAT I HELPED WRITE THAT THOSE ARE "VITALLY IMPORTANT." THIS IS NOT A SHAM. THE SHAM WAS THE BILL THAT TOM HARKIN VOTED FOR, THE DEMOCRATIC BILL IN THE SENATE, A TRILLION-DOLLAR, PIE-IN-THE-SKY BILL, NO WAY TO PAY FOR IT, THAT WOULD END IN SEVEN YEARS. THAT'S A SHAME. TOM DASCHLE WOULDN'T LET CHUCK GRASSLEY WORK IN ABIPARTISAN WAY TO DO A BILL IN THE SENATE.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, WE'VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE OF MINUTES LEFT. I'VE ALWAYS GOT WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU. FOREIGN POLICY... THE UNITED STATES SENATORS HAVE TO ADVISE AND CONSENT TO FOREIGN POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES. WHAT'S YOUR VIEW OF THE U.S. ROLE IN THE WORLD? ARE WE AN ACTIVIST ROLE, AN INTERNATIONALIST, OR SHOULD WE MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS AND STAY AT HOME? HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF THE U.S. IN THE WORLD?

Ganske: I THINK THE U.S., AS THE ONLY SUPERPOWER IN THE WORLD, HAS AN OBLIGATION AND A RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP OTHER NATIONS ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY AND TO HELP FOSTER PEACE IN THE WORLD. I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. DAVID, I KNOW THAT FOREIGN AID ISN'T ALL THAT POPULAR. I HAVE VOTED FOR FOREIGN AID. IT'S NOT AVERY SMALL PART OF THE BUDGET, BUT I HAVE BEEN TO THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES ON MY SURGICAL MISSIONS WHEN I GO OVERSEAS AND VOLUNTEER. AND I HAVE SEEN HOW US-AID CAN HELP A LOT OF THOSE COUNTRIES. AND IF WE CAN BUILD THE ECONOMIES IN MEXICO, FOR INSTANCE, THEN WE HAVE LESS OF A PROBLEM WITH ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION INTO THE UNITED STATES, AND I THINK THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT.

Yepsen: TRADE. WHY WOULD YOU BE THE BEST SENATOR FOR TRADE?

Ganske: WELL, I'VE ALREADY MADE A MUCH BETTER TRADE VOTE THAN TOM HARKIN. WE HAD A VERY IMPORTANT VOTE CALLED TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY. THIS WOULD GIVE THE PRESIDENT THE ABILITY TO NEGOTIATE A TREATY, LOWER BARRIERS TO OUR GOODS ANDSERVICES, BRING IT TO THE SENATE FOR AN UP OR DOWN VOTE. "THE DES MOINES REGISTER," YOUR PAPER, SAID THIS WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ECONOMIC VOTES IN A LONG, LONG TIME AND EXPECTED BOTH OF IOWA'S SENATORS TO VOTE FOR IT. I VOTEDFOR IT IN THE HOUSE. IN THE SENATE, CHUCK GRASSLEY VOTED FOR IT AND TOM HARKIN VOTED AGAINST IT. DAVID, THAT WOULD BE LIKE A SENATOR -- SINCE IOWA IS THE NUMBER ONE EXPORTING STATE ON A PER CAPITA BASIS, THAT WOULD BE LIKE A SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN VOTING AGAINST THE AUTO INDUSTRY OR A SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA VOTING AGAINST STEEL. TOM VOTED AGAINST OUR ECONOMIC INTEREST ON THAT. THAT TRADE -- EXPANDING TRADE WOULD BE HUGE IN TERMS OF CREATING MORE JOBS IN IOWA.

Yepsen: BUT YOU KNOW WHAT DEMOCRATS SAY TO THAT, CONGRESSMAN? THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT FOULING THE ENVIRONMENT; THEY'RE WORRIED ABOUT CHILD LABOR. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE VOTERS WHO HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT FREE TRADE AT ANY PRICE?

Ganske: I WOULD SAY THAT THERE WERE PROVISIONS IN THERE ON CHILD -- FOR CONSULTATION WITH THE PRESIDENT ON CHILD LABOR, AND THAT'S IMPORTANT. BUT I'VE BEEN TO THE THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES, DAVID. AND I TELL YOU, THE POLLUTION THERE IS TERRIBLE. IN PERU THAT ONE YEAR WHEN I GOT SICK AND CAME BACK, YOU CAN HARDLY SEE THREE BLOCKS. YOU KNOW WHAT? OUR TRADE COULD HELP THAT BECAUSE WE COULD SELL THEM AIR STACK SCRUBBERS AND ALL SORTS OF TECHNOLOGY THAT WE HAVE HERE.

Yepsen: CONGRESSMAN, WE'VE GOT ABOUT 45 SECONDS LEFT. I'LL GIVE IT TO YOU. WHAT ONE THING OR TWO THINGS DO YOU WANT VOTERS TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOU AS THEY HEAD TO THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY?

Ganske: DAVID, I WOULD LIKE VOTERS TO THINK THAT I WILL BE HONEST WITH THEM. I WON'T RUN AWAY FROM TOUGH ISSUES LIKE SOCIAL SECURITY. I WON'T DEMAGOGUE THOSE ISSUES. I WILL TRY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS. AND THE WAY THAT I VOTE IN IOWA WILL BE EXACTLY WHAT I TELL IOWANS WHEN I'M BACK HOME, NOT BEING A SENATOR VOTING ONE WAY IN WASHINGTON AND COMING BACK AND SAYING ANOTHER THING HERE IN IOWA. FINALLY I'D SAY THIS: I WAS VERY HAPPY TO GET THE “TELEGRAPH HERALD'S” ENDORSEMENT. AND THEY SAID DISCERNING VOTERS SHOULD BE THE ATTACK ADS IN THE RECYCLING BIN, AND PUT GREG GANSKE IN THE SENATE.

Yepsen: WE'RE OUT OF TIME, CONGRESSMAN. THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TONIGHT. APPRECIATE YOUR TIME.

Ganske: THANK YOU.

Yepsen: NOW, AS INDICATED EARLIER, "THE CANDIDATES WITH DAVID YEPSEN"CONTINUES THROUGH THURSDAY OF THIS WEEK AT 6:30 P.M. WE'RE SPOTLIGHTING THE MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATES FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE AND FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA. TOMORROW AT 6:30, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK JOINS ME TO DISCUSS THE ISSUES OF THE2002 CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR OF IOWA. I HOPE YOU'LL BE JOINING US AT THAT TIME. CONGRESSMAN GANSKE, AGAIN THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US TONIGHT. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER," AND THANKS FOR JOINING US HERE ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION... GENERATIONS OF FAMILIES AND FRIENDS WHO FEEL PASSIONATELY ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THEY WATCH ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION.


Tags: campaign 2002 Congress Iowa