Rob Zerban vs. Paul Ryan: Candidates for 1st Congressional District seat meet on debate stage

KENOSHA (WITI) -- The upcoming election set for November 4th extends far beyond the race for governor. In the 1st Congressional District, Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan hopes to retain his long-held seat from Democratic challenger Rob Zerban. On Monday evening, October 13th, the two met on the debate stage at Carthage College.

The candidates were made aware of the topics, but they weren't given the specific questions in advance of Monday night's debate.

The debate was moderated by a Carthage College political science professor, and nearly 200 people listened as the candidates made their case.

This is the second time U.S. Representative Paul Ryan has faced Democratic challenger Rob Zerban in an election. Both ran for the 1st Congressional District seat in 2012, but Monday night was the first time the two have met for a debate.

In 2012, Paul Ryan was Mitt Romney's vice presidential candidate.

"Let me just say, you`re much more pleasant to debate than Joe Biden," Paul Ryan said.

In front of a packed auditorium, Ryan and Zerban tackled issues like climate change, Obamacare and the economy.

"When you send jobs overseas to people that are, to countries that don't pay a living minimum wage, that puts American workers at a disadvantage. We also have to increase the minimum wage," Rob Zerban said.

"We have 45 million Americans living in poverty. Our system isn`t working to reacquaint people with the American ideas so they can get the people the jobs they need and want," Paul Ryan said.

The debate quickly shifted to a global focus, with a question about the country's involvement in Syria and Iraq.

"The airstrikes in and of themselves probably are not enough to do the job. Does it leave the region more stable? It can`t get more unstable than it is right now," Paul Ryan said.

"I`m cautious with boots on the ground because I`m afraid people who are calling for that right now are either, forgot the missteps that we've already seen, or never learned the lesson from the past," Rob Zerban said.

Later, a question about the Affordable Care Act turned up the heat for both candidates.

"It`s removed caps on what insurance companies have to pay. There are no more preexisting conditions. These are great. Millions of people have coverage that didn`t have coverage before," Rob Zerban said.

"I don`t believe this law will not last and will need to be replaced," Paul Ryan said.

Zerban has proven to be a formidable opponent to Ryan in the past. Ryan has held the seat since he was first elected to Congress in 1998, but during the 2011 election, Zerban came closer to winning than any of Ryan's previous opponents. 12 percentage points separated the two.

Paul Ryan and Rob Zerban have agreed to two debates -- one in each of their hometowns.

Zerban is from Kenosha. The next debate will take place in Ryan's hometown of Janesville.