News: The Fighting 1st District

And what's Paris Hilton got to do with it?

 


Both candidates for Ohio's 1st District seat in Congress agree the concept of change should be on people's minds as they step into the voting booth Nov. 7.

For the Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, the change to remember is the contrast between Republican incumbent Steve Chabot's principles when he first ran for office and his record during 12 years in Congress.

For Chabot, the notable change is the spike in homicides and violent crime in Cincinnati since Cranley joined city council in 2000 and the subsequent population loss.

As they squared off Oct. 23 in a debate at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the two blamed each other for the race's increasingly caustic tone and barrage of negative TV ads. But with at least 78 American troops killed so far this month alone in the increasingly bloody Iraq War, some voters believe the time for civility in politics has passed.

Numerous polls show the Iraq War is the main issue affecting voter attitudes.

Cranley noted that Chabot pushed for invading Iraq just three weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

'Dangerous' change
Repeating the oft-used statistic that Chabot has voted to support President Bush's positions 92 percent of the time during the current congressional session, Cranley said, "Not only is Congressman Chabot a rubber stamp for President Bush, he pushed for the war even before the president did."

During an appearance before a House subcommittee on Oct. 4, 2001, Chabot said, "If we are serious about ending, destroying and stopping international terrorism, we absolutely have to target Saddam Hussein."

Cranley, who wants a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, said Congress hasn't held the Bush administration accountable for how it launched and managed the war.

"The first thing we need to do is reject the present 'stay the course and pass the buck' approach," Cranley said. "I think we need to demand a responsible exit strategy."

Chabot noted that regime change in Iraq also was a goal of the Clinton administration and accused Cranley of engaging in Monday morning quarterbacking. Any timeline set for withdrawal would embolden the insurgents, Chabot added.

"It's pretty clear that Iraq would fall to the insurgents and jihadists, who want to kill as many westerners and Americans as possible," he said.

U.S. troops must continue training and equipping Iraqi security forces for an eventual transfer of power, according to Chabot.

Chabot said he has criticized U.S. policy during classified congressional hearings, adding, "I think our principal mistake has been to allow the Iraqis to become far too dependent on our men and women."

Cranley countered that because the U.S. military is "bogged down" in Iraq, it has no leverage in dealing with brewing crises in Iran and North Korea, part of the "axis of evil" that Bush described in a 2002 speech.

"They have failed on all three countries," Cranley said.

Chabot scoffed at the idea that Congress should pressure Bush to make changes in Iraq, describing it as "a woeful, maybe dangerous lack of understanding about the way things work. You just don't introduce a bill to change our strategy in a war."

Chabot downplayed anxiety about the diplomatic impasse over North Korea's recent nuclear bomb tests, adding that China — which provides most of that nation's food and goods — is being used to influence dictator Kim Jong-Il to change course.

"We think sanctions are probably the way to go," Chabot said. "No one is looking for war."

Cranley replied that, with the United States racking up record-setting budget deficits under Bush, China has become the nation's primary debtor.

"We have lost leverage on China because they are our banker," Cranley said.

Left unasked by media panelists at the debate is the logical follow-up question of why sanctions weren't the preferable course in dealing with Iraq.

Worse than Ashcroft
Chabot, 53, is an attorney and former teacher; he is married and lives in Westwood. Cranley, 32, also is an attorney and a college professor; he is engaged and lives in Price Hill. The pair last faced off in 2000, when Cranley had just graduated law school.

Since Chabot joined Congress in 1994, he has lost touch with his core values, according to Cranley. Chabot once campaigned against tax breaks as "corporate welfare" but voted to give breaks to oil companies. Worse, Chabot has taken over $80,000 in donations from oil and energy companies and has invested in stock in three oil industry companies since 2004 — all of which stand to benefit from votes cast by Chabot, Cranley said.

"That is wrong," Cranley said. "Oil companies don't need more of our money."

Meanwhile, Chabot said Cranley has shown a lack of judgment and leadership on city council, which helped create the climate of rising crime in Cincinnati. Chabot criticized the Collaborative Agreement on police reform as hampering crime-fighting efforts and encouraging criminals.

Quickly pointing out that then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft came to town to support the Collaborative Agreement, Cranley used Chabot's remarks to paint him as an ultra-conservative.

"He's to the right of John Ashcroft on these issues," Cranley said.

Chabot and Cranley also differ on whether the minimum wage should be increased.

"This Congress has not raised the minimum wage in nine years," Cranley said, adding that it spent a year trying to abolish the estate tax, which benefits the wealthy.

Chabot replied, "My concern about raising the minimum wage is a lot of people who could least afford it end up losing their jobs."

Borrowing a line from Democratic consultant Paul Begala used in the documentary And So Goes the Nation, Cranley mentioned at least three times during the debate that Congress' efforts to end the estate tax helped people like heiress Paris Hilton at the expense of working class families.

Chabot got the biggest laughs of the evening after he said, "Mr. Cranley seems to have a fascination with Paris Hilton." ©

For more election stories, visit

 


Both candidates for Ohio's 1st District seat in Congress agree the concept of change should be on people's minds as they step into the voting booth Nov. 7.

For the Democratic challenger, Cincinnati City Councilman John Cranley, the change to remember is the contrast between Republican incumbent Steve Chabot's principles when he first ran for office and his record during 12 years in Congress.

For Chabot, the notable change is the spike in homicides and violent crime in Cincinnati since Cranley joined city council in 2000 and the subsequent population loss.

As they squared off Oct. 23 in a debate at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the two blamed each other for the race's increasingly caustic tone and barrage of negative TV ads. But with at least 78 American troops killed so far this month alone in the increasingly bloody Iraq War, some voters believe the time for civility in politics has passed.

Numerous polls show the Iraq War is the main issue affecting voter attitudes.

Cranley noted that Chabot pushed for invading Iraq just three weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

'Dangerous' change
Repeating the oft-used statistic that Chabot has voted to support President Bush's positions 92 percent of the time during the current congressional session, Cranley said, "Not only is Congressman Chabot a rubber stamp for President Bush, he pushed for the war even before the president did."

During an appearance before a House subcommittee on Oct. 4, 2001, Chabot said, "If we are serious about ending, destroying and stopping international terrorism, we absolutely have to target Saddam Hussein."

Cranley, who wants a phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq, said Congress hasn't held the Bush administration accountable for how it launched and managed the war.

"The first thing we need to do is reject the present 'stay the course and pass the buck' approach," Cranley said. "I think we need to demand a responsible exit strategy."

Chabot noted that regime change in Iraq also was a goal of the Clinton administration and accused Cranley of engaging in Monday morning quarterbacking. Any timeline set for withdrawal would embolden the insurgents, Chabot added.

"It's pretty clear that Iraq would fall to the insurgents and jihadists, who want to kill as many westerners and Americans as possible," he said.

U.S. troops must continue training and equipping Iraqi security forces for an eventual transfer of power, according to Chabot.

Chabot said he has criticized U.S. policy during classified congressional hearings, adding, "I think our principal mistake has been to allow the Iraqis to become far too dependent on our men and women."

Cranley countered that because the U.S. military is "bogged down" in Iraq, it has no leverage in dealing with brewing crises in Iran and North Korea, part of the "axis of evil" that Bush described in a 2002 speech.

"They have failed on all three countries," Cranley said.

Chabot scoffed at the idea that Congress should pressure Bush to make changes in Iraq, describing it as "a woeful, maybe dangerous lack of understanding about the way things work. You just don't introduce a bill to change our strategy in a war."

Chabot downplayed anxiety about the diplomatic impasse over North Korea's recent nuclear bomb tests, adding that China — which provides most of that nation's food and goods — is being used to influence dictator Kim Jong-Il to change course.

"We think sanctions are probably the way to go," Chabot said. "No one is looking for war."

Cranley replied that, with the United States racking up record-setting budget deficits under Bush, China has become the nation's primary debtor.

"We have lost leverage on China because they are our banker," Cranley said.

Left unasked by media panelists at the debate is the logical follow-up question of why sanctions weren't the preferable course in dealing with Iraq.

Worse than Ashcroft
Chabot, 53, is an attorney and former teacher; he is married and lives in Westwood. Cranley, 32, also is an attorney and a college professor; he is engaged and lives in Price Hill. The pair last faced off in 2000, when Cranley had just graduated law school.

Since Chabot joined Congress in 1994, he has lost touch with his core values, according to Cranley. Chabot once campaigned against tax breaks as "corporate welfare" but voted to give breaks to oil companies. Worse, Chabot has taken over $80,000 in donations from oil and energy companies and has invested in stock in three oil industry companies since 2004 — all of which stand to benefit from votes cast by Chabot, Cranley said.

"That is wrong," Cranley said. "Oil companies don't need more of our money."

Meanwhile, Chabot said Cranley has shown a lack of judgment and leadership on city council, which helped create the climate of rising crime in Cincinnati. Chabot criticized the Collaborative Agreement on police reform as hampering crime-fighting efforts and encouraging criminals.

Quickly pointing out that then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft came to town to support the Collaborative Agreement, Cranley used Chabot's remarks to paint him as an ultra-conservative.

"He's to the right of John Ashcroft on these issues," Cranley said.

Chabot and Cranley also differ on whether the minimum wage should be increased.

"This Congress has not raised the minimum wage in nine years," Cranley said, adding that it spent a year trying to abolish the estate tax, which benefits the wealthy.

Chabot replied, "My concern about raising the minimum wage is a lot of people who could least afford it end up losing their jobs."

Borrowing a line from Democratic consultant Paul Begala used in the documentary And So Goes the Nation, Cranley mentioned at least three times during the debate that Congress' efforts to end the estate tax helped people like heiress Paris Hilton at the expense of working class families.

Chabot got the biggest laughs of the evening after he said, "Mr. Cranley seems to have a fascination with Paris Hilton." ©

For more election stories, visit citybeat.com/election.

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