OH-01 Debate, Paris Hilton, and Paris Chabot
Chabot, Cranley miles apart
BY HOWARD WILKINSON | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Whatever the topic – Iraq, North Korea, which of their campaigns has the most negative and distorted ads – the two candidates in the 1st Congressional District race were miles apart from each other in a televised debate Monday.
They even argued about Paris Hilton.
That’s right, Paris Hilton.
Republican incumbent Steve Chabot and Democratic challenger John Cranley – locked in a battle that is drawing national attention – went toe-to-toe for an hour at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Harriet Tubman Theater in a debate that was broadcast live on WCPO-TV (Channel 9).
Chabot stepped up his attacks on Cranley’s five-year record as a Cincinnati city councilman, while Cranley continued his campaign theme that 12 years in Washington “has changed Steve Chabot.”
“He is part of what is a do-nothing Congress at best, and a corrupt Congress at worst,” said Cranley, who will have former President Clinton in Cincinnati Tuesday campaigning for him.
Chabot, a six-term congressman who lives in Westwood, laid most of the city of Cincinnati’s problems at Cranley’s doorstep, saying that on Cranley’s watch, the city has seen its homicide rate has skyrocket, seen the highest population loss of any U.S. city, and has created a climate that discourages business growth.
“He wants to talk about change; this city – and I live in it – has certainly changed,” Chabot said. “Not for the better.”
Questioned by a media panel before a live audience split evenly between Chabot and Cranley supporters, each candidate accused the other of making false and misleading statements about the other in 30-second television ads.
Chabot said the ad “that gets under my skin the most” is one that says he voted against legislation to give troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan a $1,500 bonus.
“What that ad doesn’t tell you is that I voted to give all of our troops more, and to make it permanent,” Chabot said.
Cranley complained about ads by the Chabot campaign and the National Republican Congressional Committee that accuse him of supporting Social Security benefits for illegal immigrants.
“I don’t support that and I have never said anything like that,” Cranley said.
Hilton, the celebrity heiress to the hotel fortune, came up in a discussion of taxes.
Cranley mentioned her several times, saying that Chabot and the Republicans in Congress are more interested in doing away with estate taxes (Republicans call them ‘death taxes’) than in helping middle-class families.
“They made sure Paris Hilton got her estate tax-free and they do nothing to help families send their kids to college,” Cranley said.
Chabot said the estate tax relief helps small business owners and family farmers pass on their businesses to future generations.
“I don’t give a hoot about Paris Hilton,” Chabot said.
The two tangled over the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, with Cranley blaming the Bush administration for making the situation worse.
Chabot said he agreed with the Bush administration’s strategy of working with “our partners in the region” and said China is “the nation with the most leverage on North Korea.”
The U.S. cannot depend on China for help, Cranley said, “Because we have no leverage with them. They’re our banker. They can just say to us, ‘you owe us money.’ ”
On Iraq, Chabot said he is “not a stay-the-course guy,” but said he opposes setting a hard-and-fast timetable either for U.S. troop withdrawal.
The recent upsurge in violence in Iraq shows that the Iraq government is not yet ready to go it on its own, Chabot said.
“Our principal failure is that we have allowed the Iraqis to become too dependent on our troops,” Chabot said.
“I haven’t heard any of that in Washington,” Cranley told Chabot. “Have you tried to stop Donald Rumsfeld from bullying our military?”
Cranley said he favors a “phased re-deployment so that the Iraqis will have to stand up for themselves.”