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Massa vs Kuhl round 2 October 11, 2006

Posted by Kilgore Trout in Campaign, Local, Local Media.

So Last night I was able to attend the second in the series of Debates between the incumbent Randy Kuhl, and challenger Eric Massa. This was my first political debate and well I didn’t get there early enough so I ended up in the lobby with about 50 other people watching the debate on a TV. I tried to be as fair in my judgment as possible, it’s tough to ignore your own biases but you do the best you can.


I found it interesting that about a third of the crowd I was around was wearing Massa for Congress shirt or buttons. At one point I think I saw a Kuhl sticker on the back of a electric wheelchair as it left but it might have been a Massa sticker. Then at one point when everyone laughed at a Kuhl mistake it became quite clear that almost if not everyone there was a Massa supporter. This is a very republican area, so having all Dem supporters in the crowd is weird and I like it but I’m not exactly sure what it means.  Hopefully it means that the Dems are fired up and the Repubs aren’t


Also I have issue with these debates. The format is terrible, the fact that they do a lightning round where they only get to answer in yes or no is sad. Can we not hold politics to a higher standard then game shows? Even in the standard part there isn’t enough time. I know that 75 seconds is about a minute longer than the average attention span but seriously you can’t discuss real issues in that little time, it just doesn’t work. I guess I expect too much out of our media.


It got started and honestly I was a little disappointed with Eric, I had only seen him previously when preaching to the choir, when he lets himself go his energy is undeniable, but when restrained, well I wasn’t as impressed. And having never seen Kuhl speak before I though he did well, at least initially. Kuhl of course said he was going to lower taxes and Massa pointed out that Kuhl has voted to increase the cap on the federal deficit. It is a little funny when both candidates say that they want to change things so vote for them for a change, this makes sense for the challenger, for the incumbent – not so much. Up till the first commercial break I honestly though that Randy was winning. Then it happened, a moment which is reworded in this article in The Leader and somehow absent from the Star-Gazette and WETM Channel 18 news, Damn Liberal media. “It” was when the question of health care was raised and Randy Kuhl said, that there are 47.9 million Americans without health insurance, but most of those have had jobs in the past year and many have had health care in the past, therefore many of the people without health care choose not to have it…. (that’s not an exact quote it’s the best I can do from memory, and none of the press covered it) The crowd in the lobby went silent as its hard to speak with your jaw on the floor. We looked at each other with a stunned look of disbelief and the every ones expressions said, did he just say that??? I’m not supprised that Randy’s royal fuck up didn’t make it to press I mean the Star-Gazette readers aren’t concerned with issues like health care, they need to know the candidates stance on medical marijuana, which of course both are against. That makes it to print but not the single most memorable moment of the debate. Massa responded well to that but I would have preferred a simple, “Can I just be clear on this, did you just say that most people without health care choose not to have it?” that’s all that would have been needed. Eric did well pointing out some other stupid comments from the Congressmen but didn’t nail him to the wall on the big one.


Another great blunder for the Freshman was during the “lighting round” the question was if they support stem cell research. Massa said Yes, and Randy said… uh…. Yeah? It was funny because this was a fairly major issue recently that he voted on in congress, and he didn’t even have a position on it, it got funnier when he stated his opinion which was at odds with his own voting record.


Overall I think Kuhl came out strong at the start and then stumbled, Eric over took him at that point and never looked back. There was one moment, I honestly can’t remember what the issue was, when Massa had to quiet the audience which was getting a little too excited in his support. I think it was when the issue of dirty campaigns came up. Massa said I will not run a negative campaign, there were Ads run my the group MoveOn.org which were negative and had factual errors, I did not endorse those ads and I denounced them on several occasions, and my opponent turned around and ran an almost identical ad against me, his though was endorsed by the Congressman with the requisite I’m Randy Kuhl and I approve this message. Randy then said, I’ve never ran a negative campaign and I never will. We had a good chuckle about that one. Maybe not as good a laugh as the group at the last campaign got when Randy tried to show how effective the congress is and used there reaction to the Katrina disaster. Yeah that got a good laugh.


I see that I have only mentioned Kuhl’s failures, as I said Massa was a bit weak out of the gate but came back strong. He showed a hint of the fire and passion that boils within. He kept it subdued of course but I think it showed as the debate went on that this is a man of passion, but it is also a man with integrity. He did very well, not quite as good as I was expecting but I had extremely high expectations. I think that’s why my praise is a little light its not that he did poorly at all its just that when you’ve seen him speak with true passion then the subdued public version is always going to seem a bit lame. I’m always tough on the people I like so please don’t take any of this as being anti-Eric its just that He’s and incredible speaker and I was expecting a bit more. Also he’s a little too quick to pull out some of his catch phrases. I understand why everyone uses them anymore but I don’t like them. In the end even if Kuhl had not shot himself in the foot Eric still would have come out on top, but as it happened Randy handed it to him on a silver platter.


After the debate we stepped outside and there were Massa Volunteers setting up Lawn signs at the exit and a crowd of people stood around to cheer when Eric stepped outside. It was kind of corny and Kuhl left by another exit so it didn’t accomplish much, although I would have liked to see the overwhelming Massa support mentioned in the news but considering what I have already said of their coverage its not surprising that it didn’t get mentioned.


Then Eric and a mob of supporter hit up a Horigans, a great local bar/restaurant. If your in Elmira for some reason and looking for some damn good food at very reasonable prices then try it out, on the corner of Davis and Second. It was the perfect spot for this campaign. It wasn’t a chain restaurant it wasn’t some fancy expensive place, no it’s a blue collar bar that will compete with the best we have around and I think that’s quite fitting for a blue (camo?) collar guy who is using the strength of the grass and net roots to take on an incumbent that a year ago most would have said was untouchable. If your in the Bath area please check out tonight’s debate.


Oh and apparently Kuhl decided to bring his own cheerleaders to this debate, they were bussed in and they still only had 17 people show up, that’s awesome Kuhl busses people in, Massa shows up and the auditorium overflows (admittedly the used a small room). I was wondering why a luxury bus pulled up shortly after the Debate ended, it seemed a little odd to me at the time but I never even thought about the fact that maybe Kuhl bussed people in.


If you want more info, and from people who actually took notes during the debate then check out these.

Theres no debating it, Massa supporters outnumber Kuhl fans

Notes from the 10/10/06 debate




1. rochesterturning.com: turning the tide upstate - October 11, 2006

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