Check out Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th) at 1:30 today in his debate against…well, one of his opponents, anyway. Where’s Republican nominee Robert Hurt? Ducking, dodging, evading, obfuscating, taking a nap? Meanwhile, as Hurt cowers, Perriello fearlessly faces the voters’ questions. What else is new?
The first debate of the 5th district race is getting underway in a few minutes.
Unbelievably, Senator Robert Hurt is refusing to show up to make his case to the voters. I’ll be making the case that if he wants the job of representative, he needs to show up for the interview. I’m looking forward to debating the independent candidate, Jeff Clark. We may not agree on many things, but we at least agree that any man who wants to represent this district should have the courage to show up to debates.
UPDATE 1:33 PM: Senior Statesmen of Virginia intro to the debate: “The Republican candidate chose not to accept.” Ha. Also, according to Coy Barefoot, the moderator of the forum, Robert Hurt is the first candidate to decline an invitation from the Senior Statesmen since 1996. Wow, that’s pitiful!
UPDATE 1:40 PM: Perriello says that, unlike Robert Hurt, at least Virgil Goode showed up and said where he stood. Also, Perriello says it’s a “shame” that Hurt won’t let Clark in the debates. Tom Perriello challenges Hurt to four televised debates, says “voters deserve that.”
UPDATE 1:46 PM: Perriello’s discussion about what’s ailing our economy and how we fix it clearly demonstrates why he should be reelected. Perriello clearly “gets it,” including a lot of the things Jim Webb said in 2006 about the hollowing out of the middle class, the need for economic fairness, etc. Also, the importance of building, making and growing things in America. Good stuff. “Both parties will continue to run up deficits until we give them no other choice.” “Up or down vote” on the bipartisan budget commission. “Statesmen step up and make tough decisions.”
UPDATE 1:52 PM: Jeff Clark says he thinks it’s important that people hear from all candidates. Says his intention was not to keep Robert Hurt away from the debate, but to help our country. Rebuts Sarah Palin, says we should always “hope” and work for “change.” Have a “non-violent revolution every 2 years.” Praises Perriello for participating in the debate. Defends Perriello for saying that voters need to tie Congress’ hands from running up deficits. Describes himself as a business owner and member of the middle class, says we have to decide what type of people we’re going to be. Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. “It’s time for change.”
UPDATE 2:01 PM: Perriello says that under Hurt’s plan, Medicare goes broke in 2017.
UPDATE 2:06 PM: Perriello does not support closing of Joint Forces Command “at this time.” Look at insourcing some defense work to lower cost parts of the United States. Invest in intelligence, diplomacy, “the cheapest wars are the ones we don’t have to fight.” Clark says Afghanistan’s a mess, that we’re asking young Americans to risk their lives for “political correctness.” (huh?) Perriello says we need a strategy for victory and a plan for withdrawal in Afghanistan. Three main threats in the region: nuclear Pakistan, Taliban-run Afghanistan, getting bogged down in a quagmire. Afghan government is “utterly corrupt” – “thugs and warlords.”
UPDATE 2:13 PM: Perriello talks about helping veterans – Webb’s GI Bill, education, health care, jobs, etc.
UPDATE 2:21 PM: Perriello defends cap and trade, says that it was a conservative, free-market idea supported by John McCain and others.
UPDATE 2:22 PM: Clark says he doesn’t consider himself a “Tea Party” candidate, but does “believe in a lot of their values.” On Sarah Palin, “her heart’s in the right place.” She “also has the ability to be divisive.” She’s important for the “Tea Party” movement, seems to represent “normal people.” (laughter)
UPDATE 2:24 PM: Clark says he supports Cooch’s anti-healthcare-“mandates” lawsuit (“I applaud him for it”). Doesn’t think people should be forced to buy health insurance. That’s a “slippery slope…where does it end?” Perriello supports Cooch’s right to bring the lawsuit, but predicts he will lose in the courts. “That’s what that third branch is for.” Perriello says that we’re stuck paying for the uninsured, calls it a “hidden tax,” says it’s not libertarian. Health care bill is benefiting people and businesses right now.
UPDATE 2:29 PM: Clark says marriage is between a man and a woman, but understands there are people who don’t view it that way. Get the state out of it altogether, allow churches and religions handle marriage. People have the right not to be discriminated against. Find “commonsense solutions.” Perriello says discrimination doesn’t make sense, we need “more god and less government” in our marriages. We have “culture of instant gratification.” We also see the issue of economic hardship, tremendous pressures on families. Make it easier to get by for the middle class in this country.
UPDATE 2:32 PM: Perriello says there’s no federal funding for abortions under the health care bill. There are many things in that bill that are important to women. Expanded adoption tax credits, prenatal health care. Understands that those in the choice community are upset about the prohibition on federal funding of abortion, but he fought for that. Clark says there’s no explicit support for funding abortion, but it’s a 2,000-page bill and money is going towards abortions. Says this is an issue for the states and not for the federal government. “We have to take action to be pro-life.” Says high-risk pool is a loophole for federal funds to abortion.
UPDATE 2:38 PM: Clark says he’s a fan of reforming and simplifying the tax code. Supports fair tax, would love to see it implemented. Perriello says he can’t support it, even though there are some advantages to it (e.g., simplicity). Will look at comprehensive tax reform. It’s unlikely we’re going to see the fair tax, so we need to do what we can to make the existing tax code better. Says Hurt voted for large tax increase in Virginia, now takes a no-tax pledge. Hurt’s against closing the outsourcing loophole, even though it’s causing thousands of jobs to go overseas from Southside Virginia.
UPDATE 2:43 PM: Perriello voted for aid to states, protecting education, firefighters, police officers and teachers. Worked to close the outsourcing loophole.
UPDATE 2:49 PM: The live feed just got knocked off the air…we’ll see if it comes back in the closing minutes of the forum.
UPDATE 2:51 PM: Perriello says Washington is broken, and a lot of it is how campaigns are financed. Stand by your ad — minimum standards of decency. Supports DISCLOSE Act. Both parties are increasingly responsive to Wall Street, not Main Street.
UPDATE 2:53 PM: When it comes to their opposition to the energy bill, Republicans have said “no” to American jobs. We’re losing jobs to China and other countries, funding Ahmedinejad and Chavez. We need a national energy policy to send a market signal. We need to be bold in the energy sector. When Senate killed that, they were popping champagne in a lot of scary places around the world.
Clark calls for “commonsense solutions,” says the market can solve our energy problems and that we shouldn’t “socialize” our economy. Huh? I was actually starting to respect Jeff Clark, but that’s just loony.
UPDATE 2:58 PM: Clark doesn’t directly answer whether Obama’s a “socialist” or not, but says we’re “creeping down that road” towards European-style social Democracy. Obama views things more from that “left-hand side”…more government involvement.
UPDATE 3:02 PM: Perriello says he won’t take contributions from federal lobbyists. Says Hurt takes a lot of money from lobbyists and interest groups, proposed a huge # of earmarks.
UPDATE 3:03 PM: Perriello says “this area deserves a fighter.” “This is an economic crisis” for the middle class. Working people deserve an opportunity for paying jobs. We can still make it, build it and grow it in America better than anyone else. We cannot be a nation just of computer programmers and speculators at the top…we need people to take on powerful forces, neither party quite gets it. I’ll keep fighting like a bulldog for the people of central Virginia.
Clark – We need to move in a new direction. Republican and Democratic Party are two largest special interest groups in America. Need to break the duopoly in Washington. Until then, we’ll continue to see corruption. Politicians should be loyal to their constituents, not to their parties. We need to demand something different. By sending an independent, you can send a powerful message to Washington.
P.S. No wonder why Robert Hurt doesn’t want to debate Tom Perriello and Jeff Clark. They’re both highly intelligent, highly articulate advocates for their positions and their philosophies. If there were any justice in the world, Clark would be the Republican nominee, not Hurt. Two party system leads to fear-based politics. Republicans aren’t seeing the forest for the tree, they’re trying to keep our minds off corruption in Washington.