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Thursday, August 10, 2006

These people are running for what?

Angry Exchanges in Debate by Two Republican Hopefuls for Senate

Published: August 10, 2006

The two Republicans seeking to unseat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton clashed ferociously last night in a debate that centered far more on questions of marital infidelity, nepotism and other personal attacks than on what either candidate would do if elected.

Kathleen Troia McFarland, a former official in the Reagan-era Pentagon, repeatedly hammered John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, for having an extramarital affair with a city employee while he was mayor, having relatives on the city payroll, and raising property taxes. Mr. Spencer fought back, accusing her of distorting his record with “lies and innuendos and half-truths” while ignoring her early pledge to run a positive campaign.

“She’s insulted my wife, she’s insulted my children, she’s insulted my military record, criticized my service in Vietnam,” Mr. Spencer complained when he was asked about the tenor of the race. “I do not think that my personal life, or Mrs. McFarland’s personal life, or problems that she may be having, are part of the dialogue that the state and the people of New York care about, or the nation.”

Ms. McFarland responded that the issues her campaign raised were fair game.

“You brought up your wife, and I must tell you that that’s not a personal issue,” she said. “That’s a professional issue. Because when you were mayor of Yonkers, you had an affair with your secretary while you were married to somebody else. You tripled her salary and made her your chief of staff. You were living with her. You doubled your own personal income. You got financial gain from that. And you had two children.”

Their debate, at Pace University in Manhattan, was the latest flashpoint in a primary campaign that has, at times, more closely resembled reality television than a Senate race.

At one point, Ms. McFarland turned to Mr. Spencer and said, “You taxed and spent like Hillary, and you’ve behaved like Bill.”

Mr. Spencer retorted: “That was probably worked on for months by her staff. To say, let’s get the sound bite, you know? Let’s get the sound bite, let’s get the headline. What nonsense.”

He bristled at the onslaught, saying that the woman he had gone on to marry had not been a secretary but “a career professional with 22 years working for three former mayors and city managers.” He asked how Ms. McFarland, as a woman, could insult “another woman’s career and her children.”

“I say to you, Mrs. McFarland: Shame on you,” he said. “Shame on you as a mother of children and a woman yourself to talk about my wife and my family like that when we have such a serious campaign. I am at peace with my God and my loved ones.”

The Democrats exulted. “This was more like a Tom and Jerry cartoon than a Senate debate,” said Blake Zeff, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

posted by Steve @ 1:55:00 AM

1:55:00 AM

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