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Four Seek More Civility, While One Would Like More Controversy

by Christine Stuart | Apr 9, 2012 4:01pm
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Congress, Election 2012

AP Photo/The Hartford Courant, John Woike, Pool

From L to R: Democratic Senate candidates U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, state Rep. William Tong, Matthew Oakes, Lee Whitnum, and former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, share a laugh during a debate in Storrs, Conn.

(Updated 5:40 p.m.) Unlike last week’s event, there was no name-calling Monday at the U.S. Senate debate, even though Lee Whitnum, the candidate who called U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy a pro-Israel “whore” last week, would have liked a more controversial format.

Following the debate, Whitnum, the former software engineer from Greenwich who was probably the least well-known of the candidates until last week’s televised performance, said that with “the format in these debates you really can’t get into it.”

“There are so many things that the frontrunners have done that have been so attack-worthy and we don’t get a chance to really hash it out,” Whitnum said.

Murphy, the frontrunner both in the polls and fundraising, said “there were less theatrics, but I don’t think Whitnum’s comments were any less outrageous.”

“Her continual insistence that Israel has something to do with 9/11 is over the line,” Murphy said following the debate which will air at 7 p.m. tonight on Fox 61.

Whitnum referred to the 9/11 Commission and testimony offered regarding the attack. She insisted an FBI agent testified it was “because they feel sympathy for the Palestinians.”

Murphy said he let her comments go Monday so “we didn’t have a blow up on stage,” but he added that “this kind of talk from her continues to be irresponsible.”

The candidates all signed an agreement with The Courant and Fox 61, the sponsors of Monday’s debate, and agreed to be courteous and respectful. They also agreed to be removed from the debate if they violated the agreement.

Prior to the debate Murphy’s campaign sent out a press release touting the “positive campaign” promise he signed along with state Rep. William Tong back in January at the Southbury Democratic Town Committee.

The pledge says: “Negative campaigning includes the use of campaign tactics against an opponent by 1. Publicizing information taken out of context; 2. Disseminating misleading or false information as fact, and; 3. Perpetrating attacks against a person’s character or appearance.”

Whitnum said she has no problem signing a civility pledge. “Sure, I’d sign that,” she said.

Former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz said she too has no problem signing the pledge as long as the candidates can still disagree on certain issues.

“I absolutely believe it’s important to be civil. I also think it’s appropriate to discuss policy differences we each have,” Bysiewicz said. 

Matthew Oakes, of East Hartford, said Whitnum’s performance today proves she’s “a one-trick pony.”

“You ask a question about what color your tie is and the answer is Israel,” Oakes said. “Israel is not the answer to every single question.”

Whitnum found a way to talk about U.S. support for Israel when asked a question about how she would preserve manufacturing jobs in America. She said manufacturing is hurting in the U.S. because people have no money to buy things.

“I have this idea of bringing money to buy goods,” Whitnum said. “How about the $30 billion that this Congressman just pledged to Israel — a country that is not impoverished.”

Murphy ignored the attack.

The Non-Political Side

The lightning round where candidates were encouraged to give short answers to questions unrelated to politics may have been the most interesting part of the hour-long debate Monday.

The five candidates were asked to talk about the last book they had read and the last concert they had attended.

Murphy said he’s currently reading the Steve Jobs biography and the last concert he attended was that of “obscure” folk singer Greg Laswell.

He said Jobs’ biography gives him the chance to get in the mind of a “great American inventor” and includes some “good gossip.” As for the concert, Murphy said he stole away from the U.S. Capitol to catch Laswell’s show in Washington, D.C.

Tong is currently reading the “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison. The book is about an unnamed African-American man who considers himself socially invisible. Tong, the first Asian American to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut, said he can relate.

Oakes, who hasn’t previously run for public office, said the last book he read was a Star Trek novel by William Shatner. The crowd laughed.

“I don’t want it published he already started lying before he wins,“ Oakes joked afterward.

Whitnum stayed true to form and said the last book she read was “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.

“The bible to the cause that I represent,” she said, describing it.

Bysiewicz said she’s reading “Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage.” The book was written by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty while he was a professor at Yale. She said the U.S. government should be embracing the policies laid out in the book.

As for Bysiewicz’s last concert? Her son’s band recital at Middletown High School.

Whitnum counted watching “The Phantom of the Opera” on PBS as her last concert. Tong said he took his wife to see Eryka Badu at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Oakes went to see Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge.

Watch the debate here.

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(11) Comments

posted by: saramerica | April 9, 2012  8:10pm

saramerica

Whitnum has been talking about the Mearsheimer and Walt book for the past…what three years at least.
Does that mean she hasn’t read another book all this time?

posted by: Historian | April 10, 2012  4:37pm

USS LIBERTY——

posted by: Reasonable | April 11, 2012  11:32am

Sarah: Why are you always so negative against female political candidates?  You gave the same treatment to Linda McMahon, as you normally do not accept Republicans, male or female.  However, since you also “bad-mouthed” Democratic candidate Lee Whitnum—it appears “you take a dim view of female candidates in the political arena.”
Apparently you are satisfied with our Congressional “good old boys club” who have left this country in financial shambles!

“Why can’t you look for qualities that political candidates possess—instead of being a constant fault-finder, especially based on your political preference Sarah?”

“Women now wear pants, also”—Sarah Darer Littman.  Give them a break!

posted by: saramerica | April 12, 2012  11:08am

saramerica

“Reasonable” - You have made many ignorant and completely ridiculous comments about me over the last several years, but this one takes the biscuit. Seriously?! This is a candidate who has been stalking me to the point my mother had to file a police complaint. This has nothing to do with her being FEMALE. It has to do with her being completely unsuitable for public office. I’m done engaging with you, Reasonable, because you clearly aren’t.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 12, 2012  12:39pm

GoatBoyPHD

Sarah,

I ran a search on Whitnum and Elders of Zion on Yahoo and your blog came up from 2008.

http://saramerica.livejournal.com/49044.html

Apparently the two of you have a past. Feel free to pour some gas on the fire.

posted by: NOW What? | April 12, 2012  4:00pm

GoatBoyPhD - ??? I saw nothing there adversely reflecting on Sara. Whitnum’s an insult to the Democratic Party; I still can’t believe she hasn’t been effectively pushed out of it. (Maybe I misunderstood your post and you’re just looking for amusement LOL.)

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 12, 2012  6:06pm

GoatBoyPHD

Amusement is correct. CT needs to make access to more fringe groups. I’m waiting for CT’s “The Rent’s too Damn High Party”. I’ll even take Mary Carey—California’s ex-porn queen who finished 10th of 135 candidates in 2003 in California’s Governor’s recall contest.

Who needs a boring Love Fest like the Congresisonal Debate in the 5th?

2003 Recall ballot with 135 candidates

http://tinyurl.com/yvp256

The more the merrier.

posted by: Reasonable | April 12, 2012  8:06pm

Sarah:  I never made any ignorant, and rediculous statements about you, except to compliment you—“as a beautiful lady,” which you should not construe as ignorant and rediculous. I think you go overboard to always attack Republicans,(except for Lee Whitnum) however—when both political parties should share the blame—for the dire economic condition of our country—as the past and present President’s—and Congress have buried this country. 

Share the blame, and be reasonable, Sarah, and please, do not be continue a “one-way-political- blame writer, Sarah”—and you won’t have to call me ignorant and rediculous, because I disagree with your commentary. 

“I wouldn’t touch your beef with Lee Whitnum with a ten-foot-pole!” If I dislike a candidate, they do not get my vote.

Peace be with your Sarah!  I’m sorry that I upset you, but I never singled you out in any personal attack.

posted by: saramerica | April 13, 2012  8:40am

saramerica

So glad you find stalking and calling and scaring a woman in her 70’s at 11:20 at night “amusing” GoatBoy. If that’s how you get your jollies, I’m done engaging with you, too.

posted by: ... | April 13, 2012  10:27am

...

Someone forced to recreate their account on several occasions because of inappropriate and disrespectful comments is ‘reasonable’? Hard to believe. But no worries, this is the internet! Feelings and civility do not matter in this discourse, no matter how badly it can affect the psyche of individuals.

posted by: GoatBoyPHD | April 13, 2012  11:23am

GoatBoyPHD

Sara appears to be in her victimhood mood today. I don’t think anyone who read what I wrote thinks I support Whitnum’s stalking 70 year old ladies.

OTOH I was asking for more details as to what provoked Whitnum and defended her right to be a candidate. We need easier access to fringe candidates. Even the ones people find offensive.