Tuesday, March 02, 2010

the Alpert-Blumenthal Debate

Comments on the Alpert-Blumenthal debate at the University of Hartford are now dribbling in.

One money quote used in most press reports concerned the role played by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in generating business for Connecticut:

“Alpert: … we have less jobs since he’s been in office. I would ask one question of the attorney general: How many jobs have your suits created?

“Blumenthal: … Our law suits, our legal actions, actually create jobs, because businesses actually welcome competition and a level playing field.”
Lori Perez of Fox 61 Live noted that, following the debate, “Richard Blumenthal… could not stay to talk to the press.” He was due at a money throwing gathering downstate.

Kevin Rennie, a Hartford Courant commentator was unimpressed by Blumenthal’s performance:

“Easy victories in 20 years of races for attorney general have taken a toll on Richard Blumenthal’s debating skills. There were moments in tonight’s Hartford Courant-Fox61 Democratic senate debate when the state’s chief lawyer could hardly make a coherent thought out of his sentence fragments. Health policy is not his m├ętier. And he’s not a natural talking about jobs…

“Blumenthal did provide some touching continuity in his closing biographical bit. He said his first job was shoveling manure for his grandfather and he showed the audience tonight how what he learned more than 50 years ago on a farm in Nebraska has stayed with him.”
Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy thought “Blumenthal's responses were pedestrian. His grasp of issues weak and some of his assertions simply wild exaggerations. He claimed (he) had 'law enforcement' duties when he doesn't; made an incoherent proposal on cutting payroll taxes without saying for how long or at what level of income, took credit for saving lives and said he had witnessed the direct effects of military action. On that last one, I would like to know what battlefield Blumenthal inspected."

Christine Stewart of Connecticut News Junkie noted Blumenthal absence from the post-game round-up:

“Longshot U.S. Senate candidate Merrick Alpert came out swinging Monday and at least appeared to have had frontrunner Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on the ropes during their first televised debate.
“From healthcare to the war in Afghanistan, Alpert presented himself as a change agent and painted Blumenthal as an 'incrementalist' who has contributed the state’s anti-business reputation with his lawsuits…

“After the debate there was an expectation that both Alpert and Blumenthal would be available for questions. With more than a dozen reporters present, however, Blumenthal bolted with his wife to a fundraiser at a private home in Fairfield County.

“State Comptroller Nancy Wyman offered to stand in for Blumenthal, who rarely turns down a chance to speak with members of the media.”

The Harford Courant noted Alpert’s earnest aggressiveness in the debate:

“Alpert came out swinging, repeatedly tagging Blumenthal, a 20-year incumbent, as a 'career politician' and accusing him of favoring ‘incrementalism’ instead of bold and decisive action."

The Day of New London remarked on Alpert’s invitation to Blumenthal to remove his hobnailed boot from the throats of entrepreneurs:

“Merrick Alpert ripped into his rival for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, in the first debate of the primary campaign.

“In an hour-long forum, Alpert returned again and again to his central charge against Blumenthal, who has served as attorney general for nearly 20 years and remains one of the most popular politicians in the state.

“The attorney general, said Alpert, is prone to ‘incrementalism,’ litigious to a fault, and too much of a ‘career politician’ to deliver the massive reforms needed in Washington…

"’Lawsuits don't create jobs, entrepreneurs do,’ the Mystic businessman said to Blumenthal, in arguing that a relaxation of regulation to ‘get government off the back of business’ in order to reverse job losses.

“That charge echoes longstanding Republican complaints that Blumenthal and his staff have been too aggressive in bringing legal actions against businesses in the state.

“Blumenthal retorted that his legal efforts have allowed for greater competition among businesses and also altered some of the factors that have damaged job growth in Connecticut, particularly his efforts to fight rising electricity costs.

"’We have helped, not hurt business in this state,’ Blumenthal said.
"But the argument returned again and again to questions of boldness. Blumenthal's support for health care reform was insufficiently aggressive, charged Alpert, who said he favored opening the Medicare program to every citizen, a radical reshaping of the status quo. While Blumenthal said he would support efforts to reform financial practices, including dividing brokerage from consumer banking functions, Alpert said the Congress should reinstate in full the Glass-Steagall Act, which was repealed under heavy lobbying from banking interests in 1999 and enabled investment and consumer banks to merge.”
An Associated press report in The Hour also reported on Alpert’s attack on Blumenthal’s penchant for suits:

“In a televised debate at the University of Hartford, Alpert accused Blumenthal of contributing to the state's antibusiness reputation with a bevy of lawsuits during his two decades as attorney general.

"’How many jobs have your lawsuits created?’ asked Alpert, a Mystic businessman and former Air Force officer who initially got into the race to challenge U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd before the state's senior senator announced his retirement Jan. 6.

“Blumenthal defended his activist role as attorney general, saying his legal actions create jobs by fighting corrupt business practices and making sure honest companies enjoy a level playing field.

“Blumenthal said he's also battled to lower electric rates in a state that ranks among the highest in utility costs and worked to lower health care costs.

"’We have helped, not hurt, business in this state,’ said Blumenthal, who acknowledged his Republican rivals will likely make similar criticisms about his record of numerous lawsuits during the campaign.
The Middletown Press reported that "Alpert came out aggressive, pointing out that health insurance has increased and jobs have been lost while Blumenthal has been attorney general."

And The CTMirror charged the attorney general with zestlessness:

“Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, already ordained by pollsters and party regulars as the Democratic candidate-in-waiting, responded with all the zest of man who had just been read his Miranda rights: He had a right to remain silent, and he knew that anything he said could and eventually would be used against him in the general election by the Republican nominee.

“Blumenthal stuck to well-trod ground. His only surprise came later on: He was a no-show at the post-debate press conference, a rarity for a man who does television interviews on vacation.”

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