Entries in Gubernatorial debate (3)


Sparks Fly in S.C. Gubernatorial Debate

Photo Courtesy - Sheehen for Governor | Getty Images(SPARTANBURG, S.C.) -- In their first televised debate, South Carolina gubernatorial candidates Nikki Haley and Vincent Sheheen battled Tuesday over who would restore integrity to state government and revive a lagging economy after eight years of the scandal-plagued Gov. Mark Sanford administration.

Sheheen, a Democratic state senator, repeatedly cast his opponent as a would-be extension of the Sanford regime, saying this election is about “electing a governor we can trust.”

“If you look at what’s happened when these folks have been running our state…you can’t be anything but embarrassed," he said.  Sanford has faced multiple ethics violations; a state treasurer was recently jailed for drug dealing; and, the agriculture secretary was convicted of bribery.

But Haley, a three-term Republican state representative with ties to Sanford, persistently steered her message towards the economy and growth of small businesses, saying that while Sheheen is “talking about the negative…I have spent all of my time talking about things that are going to create jobs.”

Haley, who would be South Carolina’s first woman and Indian-American governor, has held a steady lead in most polls since the June 8 primary, but the race has tightened in recent weeks.

A Winthrop University poll released Oct. 10 shows Haley with a nine point advantage with 46 percent support to Sheheen’s 37 percent.  Thirteen percent of voters polled remain undecided.

Sparks flew between Haley and Sheheen in exchanges over their personal and legislative records and during questioning about how each has made money while a state employee.

Haley aggressively accused Sheheen, a trial lawyer, of profiting from state taxpayers by voting to regulate the state’s so-called payday lending industry while simultaneously being part of a law firm that made money from suing them. 

“Senator I don’t think you should have your hands in both pots of money,” she said.  “You do represent the state and you do sue agencies that the taxpayers pay.”

Sheheen later hit Haley for not disclosing all of her income sources or tax returns and for the controversy surrounding her departure from her most recent job as a hospital fundraiser. 

During an exchange over a legislative measure to cut state lawmakers’ pay, Haley defended her opposition to the cut saying, “I didn’t make hundreds of thousands of dollars suing the state. You’re doing political silliness, senator.”

Haley has enjoyed the enthusiastic support of the state's conservative base, which helped propel her to victory in the primary over three early front-runners.  Additionally, she has the valuable endorsements of tea party groups, South Carolina's former first lady Jenny Sanford, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

It's unclear whether Palin, who is credited with helping to elevate Haley's campaign, will return to the state to help in the final stretch.

Meanwhile, Sheheen -- a conservative Democrat -- has convinced some members of the business community and Republicans to be relatively content with him, state political observers say.

Both camps say the final three weeks will be an intense battle for independent and undecided voters -- and getting them to turn out.

"It's still an uphill battle for Vince Sheheen in a Republican dominated state in a Republican dominated election," said Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon.  "Sheheen really has to continue to make people uncomfortable with Nikki Haley but that negative campaigning can depress turnout which would hurt him too."

The candidates have two more debates before Election Day, Oct. 25 and 26.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Carl Paladino, Andrew Cuomo Leave the Potshots to Others in NY Gubernatorial Debate

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Carl Paladino and Andrew Cuomo avoided taking potshots at one another at the New York gubernatorial debate Monday night, leaving that to the five other candidates -- one more colorful than the next.

Joining the headline-grabbing Tea Party-favorite Republican candidate and the scion of New York Democratic politics were a convicted madam, a Black Panther turned city councilman, a retired mailman, a current UPS package handler and a lawyer who moonlights as a screenwriter.

Rather than attack each other, as they have in the New York press in recent weeks, Paladino and Cuomo stuck to pushing their own positions.  On policy, the men often seemed to strike the same chord on such things as cuts to Medicaid and support for charter schools.

They also didn't mention each other, either directly by name or indirectly, once in the 90-minute debate.

The seven-way debate, which included candidates from the Freedom, Anti-Prohibition, Rent Is Too Damn High, Libertarian and Green parties, was held at Hofstra University on Long Island.

The debate touched on budget cuts, property tax cuts, the environment, job creation, education, public transportation, and corruption.

Cuomo, the race's frontrunner, took the most barbs -- attacked by Libertarian Party Candidate Warren Redlich for taking special interest money and by Freedom Party candidate Charles Barron for advocating state job cuts -- but none directly from Paladino.

"Asking Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino to end corruption is like asking an arsonist to put out fires," said Barron, a left-wing New York City Council member.

Short on fireworks, the debate did have its share off zingy punch lines.  Anti-Prohibition candidate Kristin Davis, a convicted madam who claimed she provided former Gov. Eliot Spitzer with prostitutes, riffed on Paladino's anti-gay remarks to make a point about not raising taxes.

Raise taxes, she said, and "business will leave this state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar."

Davis supports a platform to legalize marijuana and casino gambling to raise state revenue.

While many of the minor party candidates used their allotted time to repeatedly push their own agenda, Libertarian Redlich made the most cutting attacks on both mainstream candidates.

Redlich challenged Cuomo to disclose who was behind a $55,000 campaign contribution from a New York City parking lot.

Of Paladino, Redlich said, his "behavior in this campaign is going to keep people home" and he "lacks the temperament to be governor."

Paladino uncharacteristically passed on his one chance to tangle.  After Redlich's comment that the Republican had sought to buy favor by contributing money to prior Democratic candidates including Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, Paladino simply laughed off the comments during his chance to make a rebuttal immediately after Redlich's comments.

Rather than attack Cuomo, Paladino made his most impassioned comments to support charter schools.

"We have to recognize the shame of taking hundreds of thousands of 5- and 6-year-olds and putting them in dysfunctional urban schools," he said.

Cuomo, New York's current attorney general, saved his ire for attacks on corruption.

"We have to have zero tolerance for corruption, on both sides of the aisle," he said. "If you break the law you will go to jail."

The rarely seen third-party candidates sometimes hewed so closely to their single platform that the debate's audience, and even other candidates and the moderators, often could not help but smile.

Jimmy McMillan, candidate for the Rent Is Too Damn High Party, a former mailman and self-described karate expert, wore a pair of black gloves to offset his bushy gray mutton chops.

At the end of virtually every statement he made, McMillan would remind the audience, "the rent is too damn high."

At one point Cuomo agreed.  "The rent is too damn high," he said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Attacks Get Personal in California Gubernatorial Debate

Photo Courtesy - Eric Draper/Meg Whitman for Governor 2010(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The two candidates for California governor sparred over taxes, illegal immigration and whether it’s fair game to describe one another as “whores” in their final campaign debate at Dominican College in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The race pits a perennial politician against a billionaire businesswoman. Democrat Jerry Brown is the state’s attorney general, as well as a former governor, a former mayor, and the son of a former governor. Republican Meg Whitman is the former CEO of eBay.

Tuesday night, the moderator, former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw, held Brown to account for a comment made by one of his aides. When the candidate thought he hung up the phone after leaving a voicemail message for a union leader whose endorsement he sought, one of his aides was overheard suggesting they call Whitman a “whore.”

“We’ve heard no outrage from you,” said Brokaw, noting that the harsh language “to many people is the same as describing an African American using the N-word.”

“I do not agree with that comparison,” Brown said. Some audience members booed.

Whitman pounced. “It’s not just me, it’s the people of California that deserve better than slurs,” she said.

Brown said he’s sorry the incident was made public, suggesting someone broke the law by releasing the recording from a call he made five weeks ago.

But Brown did not exactly retract the sentiment behind the word.

Whitman has broken all spending records for a self-financed campaign -- spending more than $120 million out of her own pocket. She defended that largesse, claiming it means she would not be beholden to special interests.

“I am spending my own money in this race,” she said. “But I will not owe anything to anybody.”

But Brown questioned Whitman’s independence, saying she has also raised money from business executives who would benefit from the tax cuts she proposes.

Brokaw also held Whitman to account for her proposal to hold “businesses and households to account” for hiring undocumented workers given that it recently came to light that she employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny and housekeeper for nine years.

“If you couldn’t tell you were employing an undocumented immigrant in your own home, how can you expect businesses to figure it out?” Brokaw asked.

Whitman insisted she trusted an employment agency to vet the nanny and insisted it employed Nicky Diaz in good faith until the day it learned otherwise. She said businesses need an e-verify program to help them ensure the workers they employ belong in this country.

Brown dismissed the nanny issue as a “sorry tale,” but couldn’t resist swiping Whitman for employing “foreign serfs” and for not hiring an immigration lawyer to help Diaz when the going got rough.

On some issues the candidates agree. Both oppose Proposition 19, the provision on the November ballot that would essentially legalize marijuana in California.

Both said they continue to support Prop 13, the decades old anti-tax initiative that has held down property taxes for many longtime homeowners while pushing the burden onto newcomers and causing deep problems in the effort to balance the state budget.

Both support the state’s Three Strikes law, the anti-crime measure that imposes mandatory life prison terms for felons convicted of a third felony offense.

Recent polls show Brown slightly ahead of Whitman. But surveys show as many as 20 percent of the voters are undecided so the race is still up for grabs.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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