Mel Hall says the differences are clear.
Sitting at Latte Lounge in Warsaw, the 65-year-old Democratic candidate for Congress is dressed in a plaid shirt and light blue jeans, and offers a polite smile as he delineates the contrasting approaches between him and incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Hall is a former minister who later led Press-Ganey Associates, of South Bend, for more than 15 years. He especially likes to cast Walorski as a career politician with a “tone deaf” approach to health care reform against himself – someone who spent much of his career in health care for a company that tracks health care outcomes.
Hall contends Walorski, a proponent of repeal and replace, has voted 11 times to take health care away from people as Republicans have worked to dismantle Obamacare.
He also contends one of every three people in the district has a pre-existing condition.
“Right now, they live in fear that their health care is going to be taken aware,” Hall said. “We’re better than that as a country.”
Hall advocates for reforms that would improve competition, decrease non-essential paperwork and establish competitive bidding on drug prices.
While he wants to “give voice” to health care recipients, Walorski’s career has been “dedicated” to blocking people from getting health care.
“That’s a pretty clear distinction,” he said.
In a long campaign that covers 10 counties in the 2nd District, Hall has added some emphasis on Kosciusko County in recent days with visits in Milford, Syracuse and Warsaw.
On Monday, he held a large gathering in Goshen that was hosted by Mayor Jeremy Stutsman and two previous mayors.
Hall is challenging Walorski, a former state lawmaker from Jimtown who is seeking her fourth term in Congress.
Hall this week released a policy statement covering several ideas that would force Congress to work harder and work together.
Specifically, Hall said he supports term limits, wants to see changes made that open the door for a more bipartisan legislative process and supports legislation that would strictly limit the influence of outside money.
He says Washington is broken, blames both parties and wants to see the congressional work week expanded from the current three or four days it is in session each week.
He said folks in the 2nd District want somebody who will “work across the aisle and get something done.”
There are other differences that Hall points to.
While much of Walorski’s campaign is relying on corporate PAC money, he’s not accepting any. Instead, he’s self-funding much of his first political campaign.
He is also pledging to hold town hall meetings every quarter in the district.
While Walorski often tours the district, many of her events are oriented to small groups and not open to the public. Her last formal town hall meeting was in Rochester five years ago.
“If you are a leader, you have to stand up in front of people,” Hall said. “If you can’t stand the critique, if you don’t like the heat, you shouldn’t be in that position.”
Both campaigns have agreed tentatively to participate in three televised debates. Previous Democratic opponents have pushed for debates, specifically in the South Bend and Elkhart markets.
Details have yet to be worked out.
He puts the onus on Walorski if plans don’t come together, saying it would be “on her.”
“I know when a Hoosier gives their word, a Hoosier keeps their word, so I fully expect we will have three televised debates.”