Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Surprising, Both Claim Victory

One has to love press releases. Not a surprise, both the campaigns of Representative Scott Garrett and Dennis Shulman both claimed victory in last night's debate.

First, from Garrett's campaign:

Congressman Scott Garrett scored a decisive victory in Sunday night’s debate against challenger Dennis Shulman at Temple Emanuel. In the first of three debates, Garrett was afforded the opportunity to share his message of fiscal responsibility and limited government, as well as to refute attack claims made from his opponent.

“I am probably bestknown for my fight against higher taxes and my efforts to control wasteful spending,” said Garrett in his opening statement. “Frankly, I don’t think the government can make better decisions about how to spend your money than you can.”

The debate centered around questions relating to Israel, Iran, healthcare, and the economy.

Fresh from his endorsement by the Express-Times newspaper, Garrett seemed at ease in his role as the favorite to win re-election in the race for the 5th Congressional District.

“As I travel around NewJersey, I meet with families who are concerned about our nation’s economy and future,” Garrett said. “People are worried about their retirement accounts and funding their children’s college funds. I share your concerns and havebeen fighting against the Washington establishment. We need to find new solutions to the problems that face our nation, not the continued failed policies that helped to cause the problem.” Garrett closed with observations about what makes the United States unique.

“This is what makes America different from the rest of the world. We fully embrace the rights of all Americans to pursue happiness and to succeed. It does not matter if you are Joe the Plumber or Joe Kennedy—all Americans have limitless opportunities.”

The second debate in this series will be held at Sussex County Community College on Wednesday,October 22 at 7pm.

And now the Shulman camp:

In the first of three debates, Democratic challenger Dennis Shulman kept incumbent Republican Scott Garrett on defense while scoring the most memorable lines of the evening. Here are some of the highlights from last night and some questions that remain unanswered:

Garrett continued to stonewall on the investigation into whether he is improperly taking a farmland assessment meant for real farmers. Garrett clearly said that his property is used as a "Christmas tree farm." However, Garrett has had to swear to an oath on his official New Jersey farmland assessment papers concerning what he farmed, and he swore that his farm is a "tree and shrub" farm, rather than selecting the "Christmas tree farm" category.

If Garrett is farming Christmas trees over the required 5.20 acres, why will he not invite reporters to visit the estate? Why does he classify the property under the more vague "tree and shrub" label when "Christmas trees" is a clear option on the form? Is it because the casual observer can more easily identify whether 5.20 acres are in fact being used to farm Christmas trees? Most critically -- why hasn't Garrett filed the environmental impact statement legally required for a "tree and shrub farm?"

Garrett refused Dennis' invitation to pledge not to take contributions from the industries he is charged with overseeing in Congress. As a member of the House Financial Services committee, Garrett has taken more than $1,000,000 from banks, insurers, and other special interests he is supposed to be regulating. Why won't he join Dennis in taking this pledge?

In a rare moment of honesty, Garrett defended massive tax breaks for Exxon-Mobile while talking about energy policy. Garrett has taken tens of thousands of dollars from Big Oil, and he has been one of their best friends in Congress. Garrett thinks it is just and appropriate to heap massive tax breaks on Exxon Mobile and the rest of Big Oil despite the record profits these companies are making at the expense of American taxpayers and consumers. Why should Fifth District voters trust a Big Oil crony like Scott Garrett to lower gas prices and invest in a sensible energy plan?

Remarkably, Garrett accused Dennis Shulman of misquoting scripture. During an exchange about healthcare, Dennis accurately recited from Matthew 10( when he said, "Even your scripture, Scott, says heal the sick and cleanse the leper." Why does Scott Garrett think that the government should guarantee healthcare for his family but not yours?

Garrett discussed his radical, out-of-step opposition to embryonic stem cell research. In contrast, Dennis Shulman discussed his dedication to funding all potential cures for disease, invoking his first-hand experiences with patients and congregants. Shulman also chided Garrett for his anti-science views and dismissal of research. How can voters trust Scott Garrett to represent them responsibly when he dismisses unbiased research in favor of extreme ideology? Why won't he support federal funding of stem cell research?

When Shulman discussed Garrett's corrupt ties to special interests like Countrywide Financial, Garrett changed the subject by discussing Senator Chris Dodd's personal mortgage with Countrywide. Garrett has taken thousands of dollars from Countrywide Financial alone, his taxpayer-funded chief of staff is a former lobbyist for Countrywide, and Garrett's economic plan would have expanded the role of disgraced lenders like Countrywide prior to the economic crash that Countrywide caused. Why won't Garrett release a copy of his own personal Countrywide mortgage?

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