Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the first debate today. The following are reports of the event. If you click and read just one of the links, I suggest that you click the last report from the Fighting 29th. They were there and offer an extensive, inclusive report.
Candidates Kuhl, Massa Debate (Video of news report available)
Democrat Eric Massa took more jabs at President Bush than he did Republican Randy Kuhl. Massa said, “We need to change the direction we’re headed.”Kuhl focused on delivering locally.
He said, “I held a town meeting in each one of the 145 towns in the congressional district each year.”
In fact, some of Kuhl’s responses seemed made-to-order for his opponent’s campaign commercials, including a comment he made about the federal response to Hurricane Katrina.
Kuhl’s supporters defended his stumbles as proof that he’s not a slick politician, but rather — just a regular guy.
The candidates were asked questions about health care, the $8 trillion federal deficit, stimulating manufacturing jobs in upstate New York.”This country is off course, and we need to change the direction it is headed,” Massa said.
Kuhl said he supported our efforts in Iraq.
“I firmly believe this is a war on terror, against terrorists, and we need to fight this on their shores rather than ours,” he said.
From the opening statement to the last word, it was Eric “Look at the World” Massa vs. Randy “Look at the District” Kuhl. After subtly pointing out that the Mayor of Canandaigua was a supporter, Massa began by saying that the election was about staying the course or changing course. Kuhl began with a recitation of his local boy resume peppered with a few Canandaigua references.
Finally, and not one moment too soon, it was time for closing remarks. Massa repeated the stay the course vs. change argument, and pointed very gently in the direction of l’affair Foley: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” and “headlines we don’t want to explain to our children”. Nothing direct. He got a round of applause from his supporters, who had packed the room.
[Kuhl] Then, for the first time of the day, he showed what a total minefield this election has become for a Republican incumbent. He started listing accomplishments and mentioned the response to Katrina as one of them, which got a guffaw from the Massa supporters in the audience. Kuhl pointed out the amount of money that Congress had appropriated, and how quickly it had been done, apparently oblivious that the real issue wasn’t the money available, but how it was spent. Overall, though, the theme of his summary was that he went to Washington to represent and to change things, not to make friends. He’s country, not DC.