GREAT FALLS — During MTN’s 2nd Congressional District Debate Saturday in Great Falls candidates running to represent Montana’s eastern congressional district sparred over topics such as abortion, inflation and how best to curb healthcare costs.
Republican candidate and U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale spent the last two years serving as Montana's at-large representative in congress. He is running for Montana's eastern congressional district against Democratic candidate and former Billings City Councilmember Penny Ronning and Independent candidate and Billings business man Gary Buchanan.
On the issue of abortion, Ronning and Buchanan said they believed it was a decision between a woman and her doctor, not the government.
Rosendale said he believed states should have the power to regulate abortion and said the life of a fetus is still a life, but acknowledged when the issue is whether the mother or child should lived, a woman should have autonomy.
"When it comes to a situation where you have this issue to be reconciled," Rosendale said. "I believe that is something between the woman and her doctor. It's going to be. But we do have two lives let's not mistake it ... And I think we need to do the best that we can to preserve both lives."
On student debt and loan forgiveness, Buchanan and Rosendale both said they opposed President Joe Biden's move to forgive some federal loans as the legislation could increase inflation and add to the country's debt.
However, Ronning pushed back against Buchanan's response.
"To save banks," Ronning said. "How about we save people? How about we actually work to allow people, especially young people to develop equity? To come out from underneath the burden because they went and got an education. To save banks. How about we work to save people."
While discussing whether the candidates would support legislation to legalize marijuana on the federal level, Buchanan criticized Rosendale's record of voting against many piece of legislation during his time in office.
"Well the question was would you support legalizing it," Buchanan said. "None of us are talking about ignoring the law, Matt. I think most of us are law-abiding citizens. We're talking about sitting in your chair and making some progress from a law-making standpoint."
Absentee ballots for the 2022 midterms are expected to be mailed out in about two weeks.
Libertarian candidate Sam Rankin will also appear on the ballot in November, however Rankin was not invited to the debate because the network determined he did not meet established criteria.
***10/02/2022: This article was updated to correct a headline that mischaracterized Rep. Rosendale's statement on abortion***