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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, September 22, 2008

I. Bennett & Dent Refuse to Agree at JCC

Allentown's beautiful Jewish Community Center was the setting for last night's televised debate between LV Congressman Charlie Dent and challenger Sam Bennett . A giddy crowd of nearly two hundred people (and one miniature French poodle) waited for the show to start, munching on cookies and swilling down bottled water and coffee. We are mutants, people who actually prefer a congressional debate to an exciting Eagles-Steelers game.

We probably should all be committed.

Two Allentown cops were on hand in case a blogger started rolling around on the floor or foaming at the mouth. Since nobody was actually willing to throw a punch, the cops slipped off to a side room to watch the game.

So who won?

Judging from the applause in the beginning, during eight minute speeches from each contender, I'd say most of us miscreants thought Sam came out on top. They're already posting comments on my previous blog about tonight's festivities. By night's end, however, it was Charlie Dent who was swarmed by spectators while Sam Bennett was forced to wander the room, hoping for a few minutes with different people.

Dent was clearly the better debater, informative and extemporaneous. Bennett, on the other hand, was actually reading off cheat sheets. When Dent spoke, instead of listening with the respect that Dent gave her, she would smile and shake her head "No" the entire time. Don't believe me? You can make your own call, thanks to a webcast done by Channel 69 .

This debate will also be rebroadcast on Channel 69, making it the first of three televised face offs between the two candidates. There will also be two non televised showdowns.

So much for Bennett's debate ducking charges.

Candidates answered seven audience-prepared questions, vetted by a panel of three rabbis, about energy independence, job creation, health care, Israel, Iraq, immigration and our local economy. I will transcribe two of their answers below, and hope to have a few more by Tuesday. Three of these questions concerned foreign policy and national security, playing into Dent's strength and Bennett's weakness. Nowhere was that more apparent than when she declared Hamas "must behave."

These are not elementary school children, Sam.

One thing's very clear. There's no love lost between these two. Before the night was over, they were both accusing each other of personal attacks. They may belong to the same church, but I'll bet they sit in different pews.

Bennett teed off with this, after the question about Iraq. "While we're talking about war, I would like to point out - Charlie, I guess there's no more Mr. Nice Guy anymore. I have to tell you I've been disappointed that everything you've done in this campaign has been a personal attack upon me in TV, radio and mail. Our country is in a terrible state, our finances melting and we are at war. Charlie and I actually go to church together and I have to ask you a question, Charlie. Are you proud of the way you've been conducting this campaign?"

"Yes, if you want an answer," responded Dent. She didn't. "Onto Iraq."

Dent responded at the end of the evening. "I want to say something about personal attacks. During this campaign, she accused me of using my job to enrich myself without one shred of evidence or substantiation. When she was called on it, she said, 'Big Gas, Big Oil.' That's a bunch of hot air. It was offensive and insulting to me and to my wife, especially to my wife. We don't like that. That's a personal attack."

"This summer, in July, she talks about nasty campaigns, I was burying my aunt at Arlington National Cemetery. . . . The Democratic Congressional Committee on that day started attacking me falsely and calling me names."

Blogger AJ Cordi served as cameraman and beautiful Pam Varkony was color commentator, passing me hilarious notes at different points. She's already posted her Perspectives. Blogger Michael Molovinsky, who earlier today called Rendell a "reluctant Jew," is hiding in some bunker somewhere.


Anonymous said...

My report from last night: Andy Reid was looking at cue cards all night; what a loser. No wonder he's never won a Super Bowl.

Anonymous said...

Many Thanks Lehigh Valley Ramblings for giving those of us who cannot attend such debates insight and clear reporting. We do care to hear what the candidates said. Thank you.

Blah Society said...

I must be tired ... I didn't even realize those were my photos.

Chris Miller said...

When you have the rebroadcast date please post. Spent the time with grandson, a true Steelers fan

Anonymous said...

Just watched the "debate" on the 69 web site.

Seems to me that although Dent is a lightweight, Bennett is too unprepared, smug, contrived, self-absorbed and condescending for the job -- no humility whatsoever.

In fact, I believe that she is the Lehigh Valley Democratic version of Sarah Palin!

J. SPIKE ROGAN said...

FMZ played a sound byte of Dent and Bennet on each "going negative" in ads.

Dent seemed to state that her attacks on him "in the pocket of Big oil" was " a insult to me and my wife".

His wife? I need to read a transcript to try and understand what the hell she had to do with it.

The biggest insult is these two are the only choices.

I do get hardy laughs though when any campaign screams the other is negative when they point out FACTS.

ala McLame screaming negative when someone points out who works for his campaign.

November 2008 will show just how brain dead America has become watching crap like "America's got talent" and "Dancing with the (alleged) Stars" . While most ignore real news and issues.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rogan,

I believe if you look at the transcript on the comments provided by Mr. O'Hare on this thread, you will see that Rep. Dent was insulted that the personal attack by Ms. Bennett suggesting that he used his political office to get rich, and that she did so without any evidence or substantiation. When she was asked to give some proof, she then made an irrelevant statement about "Big Oil" and provided no proof that Rep. Dent did anything untoward in order to personally get rich off his service in the House of Representatives. I believe that Ms. Bennett's unsubstantiated charges greatly upset and insulted Mrs. Dent, because it defamed the character of not just her husband, but her family.

Anonymous said...

And speaking of "Big Oil" attacks: The Bennett Camp still has not addressed the fact that public records show Rep. Dent's campaign received less than $10,000 from oil and energy companies, and not the $75,000 they assert. They have slightly tweeked this accusation in print and in prepared speeches, but last night, she was still using the old, discredited talking points.

Ms. Bennett's campaign Web site is also still running the countdown of how many days Rep. Dent has "refused Sam's debate challenge", even though he not only agreed to debate her several weeks ago, but has already done so once, last night. Is this Ms. Bennett's idea of organization, accuracy and accountability?