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Republicans stake out identities at debate

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When the five Republicans hoping to be South Dakota's next U.S. Senator met for the first time on the debate dais Saturday in Pierre, it didn't take long for them to assert the identities they hope will stick in voters' minds.

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Sioux Falls physician Annette Bosworth promoted her status as a mother more than her M.D. Rabble-rousing state lawmaker Stace Nelson, of Fulton, calls himself the "true conservative." Lawyer and Army Reserves Maj. Jason Ravnsborg, of Yankton, prefers the term "statesman" over "politician." Longtime legislative leader Larry Rhoden, an even longer-time rancher from the middle of Meade County, maintained his record as a genteel, straight-forward tactician who answers questions rather than dodging them.

And there's presumed front-runner and former governor Mike Rounds, of Fort Pierre, who is peddling his South Dakota bona fides as often as possible. His supporters arrived at the debate with a restored vintage pick-up truck.

Here's a look at some of the statements candidates made during the debate.

Annette Bosworth

"Every night I tuck in three boys who it is my responsibility as a mother to protect," answering a question about climate change.

"That American dream of starting out in a hog barn and wanting to be something more, my three sons don't have that same dream. In their life, those dreams melt more each year because of the people running Washington," in her closing statement.

"The message I learned is, listen to the mothers. If you want to revolutionize a community, start with the people who aren't going to run away," answering a question about improving life on Indian reservations.

Stace Nelson

"I'm in the race to provide an actual conservative they can look up to," answering a question about attracting more women to the Republican Party.

"I'm the only candidate up here with a record of actually having cut spending. My opponents say they would do that in D.C., but they didn't come to the Legislature and do anything like that," answering a question about which federal agency to eliminate.

"What South Dakota Republicans want is an actual Republican to follow Republican principles of limited government. ... We don't need any more empty rhetoric light on truth, light on facts and empty. What I'm offering to bring to you as a U.S. Senator is an actual conservative," in his closing statement.

Jason Ravnsborg

"I believe I'm the only candidate who's gone to the reservation. I went to Pine Ridge and I talked to President (Bryan) Brewer," answering a question about improving life on Indian reservations.

"It's sad in our society if we brag that we raise $10 or $9 million. It should be about our ideas and what we do to get our country moving again. ... Most of my friends are middle class and are more worried about the economy than giving political contributions," answering a question about campaign contributions from outside South Dakota.

"I want to be a statesman, not a politician. I seek to always tell you where I stand on the issues. I will tell you when we have to make a tough decision. I do not want to be a career politician. We've had enough of those. They ran up a $17 trillion debt," in his closing statement.

Larry Rhoden

"The EPA, if I had my way, would be eliminated - at a bare minimum under congressional oversight. The current administration has turned that agency loose on the people of America and allowed them to legislate and create policies that make no sense and accomplish nothing," answering a question about which federal agency to eliminate.

"We've done campaign finance reform in the Legislature. My standard has been that I do not like the PAC system where people can create this invisible trail and you have to be a private investigator to determine where the money is coming from. I'm not concerned about the amount of the checks. I'm concerned about whether a citizen and voter can find out where the money is coming from," answering a question about campaign finance reform.

"Women are very well equipped as legislators. I judge them on their abilities and common sense," answering a question about attracting more women to the Republican Party.

Mike Rounds

"In South Dakota we do it every single year, balance our budget. It's South Dakota common sense that we need more of in Washington, D.C.," answering a question about a national Republican budget proposal.

"How in the world at this stage of the game do we in South Dakota affect national policy? I call it South Dakota common sense. In South Dakota, we've got good, clean elections. We've got to be able to share aspects from all facets of our lives and take that to Washington, D.C.," answering a question about campaign contributions from out of state.

"I want to take the South Dakota common sense that we take for granted every single day to Washington, D.C.," in his closing statement.  

On June 3, Republican voters will choose a candidate to appear on the November general election ballot.

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