NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella

Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Harrison scores a Round 1 KO vs. Fossella

[note: I have invited swislow to help guest blog here, so I will be reposting some of his thoughts as I get this set up for some guest accounts]

by: swislow

Yesterday were the first two in a series of five debates between the candidates in New York's 13th district Congressional race, Rep. Vito Fossella (R) and Stephen Harrison (D). I attended both, one in the afternoon at an AARP meeting in Staten Island, and the later one at 8pm at a church on the South Shore of the Island. The results:

Clear knockout scored to Stephen Harrison.

So many issues were covered. At the first debate at the AARP meeting, the crowd of over 200 seniors started off quiet but quickly got riled up. Vito gave a pretty lackluster opening speech, receiving only moderate applause at the end, while Steve started off with a bang. Several times during the middle of his opening 10 minutes the audience members broke into cheering and applause.

Steve was able to call Vito out on many of his distortions that have taken place throughout this campaign. Two of the very major ones were covered here: Social Security and the Verrazano Bridge toll plan.

The crowd was definitely behind Steve when he explained his comprehensive restructuring of the traffic system on the bridge, and they saw through Vito's lies on this subject. Vito, both during the debate and after in an interview with NY1 reporters, claimed that Steve wants to go back to "two-way tolls," which we all know by now is a bunch of BS. Steve took time during the debate and with reporters to explain his real plan, and there was a very positive response.

On Social Security, Vito was flustered, unable to answer to the fact that he had for a long time shown support for the Bush Administration privatization plan, then said he didn't support privatization, then said he didn't really know what to do and that they should hold a meeting. The crowd saw right through Vito's responses and applauded Steve on his efforts to save the Social Security system as it is today.

To do it real justice, I have to say this: Steve kicked Vito's ass in this first debate. There was no question that the crowd overwhelmingly supported Steve, and didn't buy into the generic Republican, fear-mongering (Vito must have mentioned 9/11 a dozen times) rhetoric that Vito kept spewing at them.

This debate was very intense--even the host said that he expected a "candidate's forum" not an all-out debate--and I think there was more media people there than I expected, NY1 was there and so were a couple reporters from the Advance.

Let's get to the second debate on the South Shore.

The showing for this debate was incredible. There were probably around 50-60 seats on the floor that were completely filled and standing room on the sides and in the back that was completely packed--probably over 100 people showed to this one.

Steve got multiple standing ovations and huge. Steve was able to coherently explain his ideas for Social Security and to attack Vito on his lack of a clear stance.

One of the main issues that was brought up here (but also at the AARP meeting) was NSA wiretapping, and as Vito called it "aggressive interrogation" (in layman's terms, torture). Steve stuck to his guns in support of the Constitution on this one, while Vito unconvincingly deflected the idea that he was in support of torture.

Again, Vito stuck to his same fear-mongering rhetoric, mentioning 9/11 and keeping terrorists at bay while not really addressing any of the specific issues. The questions might have well been something like:

"Why did you reject a bill to give a $1500 bonus to our troops?" or "Why did you vote against an independent 9/11 commission?" or "Why in the hell are we still in Iraq if we know it caused more terrorism?"

And his answer would probably have been:

"Do you want your family to die? I want to fight terrorists wherever they are."

Steve definitely was more coherent in outlining his policies and staying true to them, and I think he got his message across.

I'll mention that I was kind of disappointed with Tom Wrobleski's article in the Advance (EDIT: although his blog article really did a fantastic job--I wish he would write like this in the newspaper), but we did get front page coverage, and you can tell that this race is really starting to heat up.


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