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In final 10th District debate, candidates clamor for pro-business mantle

Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Dold and Democratic candidate Brad Schneider squared off Tuesday night in their fourth and final debate before the Nov. 6 elections.

The pair, locked in the heated race for Illinois’ newly-redrawn 10th District, appeared on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” to discuss their stances on everything from taxes to gay marriage to gun control.

Dold, the one-term incumbent from Kenilworth, also made a point to attack Schneider’s business record.

The Democratic challenger currently runs his own management consulting business — but has no clients.

“Mr. Schneider is running as a business guy. Almost every mailer he’s put out is talking about his business experience, and yet he has no employees. He has no clients,” Dold told reporters after the debate. “I think that’s relevant.”

But Schneider argued he has 25 years of business experience. He said he worked at Sears, where he was responsible for strategy and operations of 2,800 catalog stores. Schneider also highlighted a life insurance agency he owned and operated from 1997 to 2003, which he said employed 10 people.

“I’ve worked in large companies, Fortune 500 companies. I’ve had my own companies, and I’ve been a sole practitioner,” Schneider said. “I bring a variety of experience.”

Schneider added that that diversity in background would help him understand challenges facing business owners across his district.

Dold also slammed Schneider for refusing to release his tax returns, something the congressman has done throughout the campaign. Schneider responded by saying his wife has a right to privacy and said everything voters need to know about his finances can be found in U.S. House disclosure forms.

Schneider said he stands with President Barack Obama when it comes to raising taxes on Americans who earn more than $250,000 per year.

Dold, on the other hand, said raising taxes even on the wealthiest Americans may not be the right move, given the country’s still-fragile economy.

But Dold did reiterate he was not resolutely opposed to raising taxes, something he said during the last debate. That’s a change in the congressman’s stance. Dold, along with the vast majority of his Republican colleagues in Congress, had signed the Grover Norquist pledge, which is a public statement that the candidate would not go along with a tax hike in any form.  

When it came to tax loopholes, there was little disagreement; both Dold and Schneider said they were in favor of keeping deductions for mortgage interest and charitable deductions. Schneider said he would seek to end tax subsidies to oil companies. Dold said he also supports that effort .

The two both said they would vote to raise the debt ceiling, but maintained the nation’s deficit must be addressed.

When addressing gun control, Schneider said he supported a ban on assault weapons. Dold was less direct, saying the old ban on assault weapons “wasn’t working.” Dold did say he wanted to close gun show loopholes and ensure background checks were being performed.

Both candidates describe themselves as pro-choice. Dold said he supports civil unions but believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Schneider said he supports full marriage equality.

Illinois’ 10th District includes portions of northern Cook County and much of Lake County. Democrats redrew the district last year and excluded the northern suburbs of Kenilworth and Winnetka, which traditionally lean Republican.

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