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Experience matters in solving nation's problems, Senate hopeful says in Des Moines

By James Q. Lynch, The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Feb. 18--The thing voters need to know about Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Jacobs is that he's a "business guy," not a politician.

And he's not too impressed with the politicians. Instead of getting solutions from elected leaders in Washington, Jacobs told the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club Tuesday, "We see bitter partisanship, bickering, finger-pointing, name-calling."

Iowans deserve better, said Jacobs, who released a poll Monday showing he has a lead over five other candidates for the GOP nomination as well as a statistically insignificant lead over U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for the seat now held by Sen. Tom Harkin.

He's running, Jacobs said, because he's afraid the nation is on the wrong track.

"When I see a statistic like the fact that the number of families required to live on food stamps has nearly doubled in the past five years that is a clear sign to me that that opportunity to live the American Dream and the opportunity to be self-sufficient is not working for a lot of American families," he said.

Iowans deserve a senator who can be part of the solution, Jacobs said. That's where his "business guy" experience comes in.

Jacobs is the retired CEO of Reliant Energy, a Texas-based company that was under federal investigation and on the brink of bankruptcy when he took over.

He approached the jobs with two principles: He would not agree to a short-term solution and would not cede control of the company to the banks.

"I listened to them. I worked with them. I built personal relationships and worked to understand their concerns," he said. Ultimately, they were able to come up with a plan to repay about $8 billion in debt and save thousands of jobs.

That experience demonstrates he has the leadership, experience and ability to bring people together that is missing in Washington, Jacobs said.

He acknowledged it's harder to work with people who have different political perspectives.

"The real art of leadership is knowing how to work with people who have different points of view and still getting achieved what you want to get done consistent with your principles," Jacobs said.

One of the challenges he wants to tackle as a senator is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the reform of health care. His opponents accuse him of not wanting to repeal the ACA -- Obamacare. Tuesday, Jacobs called that the first step in health care reform.

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Obamacare, he said, isn't doing anything to address the rising cost of health care for individuals. Many employees are seeing their share of health care insurance costs increase.

"That's the core problem," Jacobs said. "That puts a tremendous strain on families. That puts a big strain on the federal government given that our federal government spends nearly $1 trillion a year on health-care related expenditures."

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(c)2014 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Visit The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at thegazette.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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