U.S. Sen. Dan Coats traveled to Jackson County on Friday night and talked about two challenges facing the country — the rising national debt and terrorism.

Calling them the “debt bomb” and the “terrorist bomb,” Coats said those two issues will be the greatest challenges for the country going forward.

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“It’s not only going to effect our way of living but … your children, your grandchildren in ways that Americans have never seen,” he said.

Coats, who also had recently visited three other counties in Indiana, spoke to a full house of the Republican Party faithful during the party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner conducted at Pewter Hall in Brownstown.

Accompanied by his wife, daughter and grandson, Coats was introduced by Indiana 9th District Congressman Todd Young who spoke about Coats’ biography and his own experience knowing him as a man of humanity, integrity, family and faith.

“He’s my sorta leader,” Young said.

Coats first discussed his experience of learning about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was in Berlin that day as the newly installed U.S. ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, and he had just met with an 88-year-old man named Ernst Cramer.

The two discussed U.S.-German relations, and before they departed, Cramer left Coats with a last thought. He told him the greatest threat facing America and the western civilization in the new millennium is the rise of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism.

This was just moments before Coats heard and saw the 9/11 attacks happening on CNN.

“All of us remember that fateful day,” Coats said. “That was a defining moment for the future of our country.”

Since 9/11, Coats said the U.S. has seen the consequences of those events spread, and he compared the brutality to “cancer” as it threatens the homeland. He said terrorism and the threat of someone using nuclear weapons poses a challenge for the future of Americans and western civilization.

Another issue before the U.S., he said, is the “stunning acceleration or plunge” into national debt due to significant spending by the federal government.

He said it took 200 years for the nation’s debt to reach $1 trillion and then less than 30 years to reach 10 times that amount.

Then under the “so-called” leadership of President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in 2008, Coats said spending has grown from 10 trillion to more than 18 trillion in just six years.

“That’s what I call a debt bomb,” he said. “The debt bomb is ticking.”

Coats told the crowd there’s a significant importance to the 2016 presidential election, which is just around the corner.

He said it’s critical to have someone in office who has the ability to bring the country to the point where those issues are successfully addressed.

There’s a lot of work to do, he said, but he trusts the next president will rise to the challenge and strive to restore the country.

“None of us want … (to) let our grandchildren have to deal with the amount of debt and the enormity of the threat,” he said.

County GOP Vice Chairman Tom Goecker took a moment to introduce local Republican elected officials, and the Actors Community Theater of Seymour performed “Greater Tuna” during dinner.

Melissa Acton, the county’s GOP chairwoman, also spoke and said it was exciting to have one of the highest-ranking Republicans in attendance.

“He made this a priority, and so we’re honored and extremely happy to host him,” she said.