Fleischmann, Headrick spar in 3rd District debate

In their debate Monday, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Democratic challenger Mary Headrick agreed that a U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Chattanooga should remain open, reports the Times-Free Press. But not on much else.

The two tackled issues ranging from sending U.S. troops to Iraq, health care reform, abortion law, veterans affairs and the fate of the nation’s post.

Fleischmann said he agreed with President Barack Obama’s recent decision to send support to moderate Sunni forces in Iraq, and the decision to begin airstrikes against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. But Fleischmann said he’s not prepared to commit troops to the fighting.

Headrick agreed that the U.S. must fight ISIS, but giving resources to “undefined allies” without a clear objective was folly.

“We do need to fight ISIS, they are a dreadful force, and there are others who are also dreadful. But we need to fight them in our own time,” she said. “Right now, we cannot define our enemy, nor can we define our reliable long term ally.”

With regard to health care reform, in particular the Affordable Care Act. The candidates could not be further apart.

Fleischmann called the ACA “a disaster” and criticized Democrats for using a majority in the legislature to pass the bill before it was vetted thoroughly. Although Fleischmann did not offer any specific replacement to so-called Obamacare, he said states, insurance companies and physicians should come together and develop a system that would allow the free market to work.

Headrick, a 30-year physician, said the patient protection aspects of the ACA, such as doing away with exclusions for pre-existing health conditions or denying insurance to people who are ill, have been largely successful. And she blamed many perceived failings of the bill in Tennessee on the state’s move not to expand its TennCare program.

Perhaps the most stark difference between the two candidates is their stances on abortion.

Fleischmann said during the debate he would like to see abortion outlawed federally, saying the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which protected abortion rights of women, was “flawed precedent then and its flawed precedent now.”

Headrick’s remarks were simple.

“I trust women. They are very careful in this very serious and sad decision when they have to make it. I trust women,” she said.