Renee Ellmers and Clay Aiken on the issues for North Carolina's 2nd Congressional District

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As we count down to the Nov. 4 general election, one of the highest profile races in North Carolina is the showdown between incumbent Republican Renee Ellmers and challenger Clay Aiken in the 2nd Congressional District.

We sat down with both candidates and asked them the same questions on the issues.

First up is health care for American veterans and their plan to fix our embattled veteran's hospitals.



"They've actually taken numbers and fudged their system to make it appear better than it actually is. Those are the things that have to stop. We have to actually look at the issue. We have to make sure we're taking care of our veterans and stop playing games," said Ellmers.

"So this backlog that we all hear about, this backlog that's causing people a long time to get their disability checks processed, is in part because Congress doesn't do anything. They don't get anything done. They vote against, they vote against, they don't do anything. And, we have a backlog for that reason. So being proactive is part of it," said Aiken.

On immigration reform, we asked Aiken and Ellmers about their plan for a comprehensive bill.

"It makes sure that those people who are here illegally don't get a direct path to citizenship, but they're still able to get into the line. And they're able to pay into the system and pay taxes. Instead of living off the government, they're actually paying taxes into the government through payroll taxes. This type of bill would pass. The Senate bill would pass in the House right now. In fact, I think Congresswoman Ellmers would vote for it, but it will not get a vote because I think more people are interested in pointing fingers at the other party," said Aiken.

"The Senate passed legislation that would not pass the House. I would not vote for it. I believe it does open the door for amnesty," said Ellmers. "The pathway that I'm seeking is there again looking for that legal work status, admit wrongdoing, making sure we're getting these individuals out in the open so that we know who they are. We've got to secure that border!"

On the nation's newest terror fight, Ellmers and Aiken split on whether to send U.S. ground forces in to fight ISIS.

"No, I don't believe right now the U.S. should be sending ground forces in," said Aiken. "ISIS is a threat that we need to keep our eye on, but right now it is not a direct threat to U.S. soil and when it becomes a direct threat to U.S. soil, we need to reassess the situation."

Our conversation next turned to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

"I would like a full repeal. We've voted numerous times on that," said Ellmers.

"I do believe there need to be substantial changes made," Aiken offered.

They agreed Congress needs to pass changes, but differed on what they'd be.

"Health care savings plans, that's one of the things Obamacare actually gets rid of. We need to be able to have people empowered by saving in their own savings plan for health care needs," said Ellmers.

"The employer mandate at 50, we need to strongly consider raising it to 100 employees, to save thousands of dollars for tens of thousands of business owners," said Aiken.

We asked both candidates about raising the minimum wage. President Obama's calling on Congress to boost the minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

"10.10 an hour is a livable wage and they didn't just grab a number out of thin air because it was catchy. They said 10.10 because that's where you can work 40 hours a week and not fall below the poverty line," said Aiken.

"It's not going to bring any family out of poverty. What we have to do is look at those entry-level jobs and how can we empower those individuals to move up the ladder of success so they can increase their income," said Ellmers.

Finally, we talked infrastructure. Should Congress pass a comprehensive plan to fix the nation's crumbling roads and bridges?

"It can't simply be a Band-Aid or a year to year fix as it has been for so long. We have to come up with a long-term plan. And it can't just simply be slapping another tax on the American people," said Ellmers.

"A Transportation Infrastructure Bank has been proposed and I think it's a solid way to make sure we have money in place specifically for infrastructure needs. And not only do we have that money in place, but that money is there to leverage private investment infrastructure - to leverage private industry to get in and improve the roads and bridges," said Aiken.

There is not much polling data on this race. However, most political experts seem to think Congresswoman Ellmers is a safe bet to hold onto her seat. But, Aiken's celebrity and financial-backing are making the race much more competitive.

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