2010-10-29 / Top Stories

Weiner-Turner Face-Off In Chamber Forum

By Howard Schwach

Congressman Anthony Weiner makes a point about the new health care reform act. (Photos by Rob Schwach). Congressman Anthony Weiner makes a point about the new health care reform act. (Photos by Rob Schwach). Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner and his Republican challenger, Bob Turner, faced off for an hour and a half in front of a packed Republican partisan audience at the Bungalow Bar restaurant on Thursday, October 21.

There were a number of things clear from the beginning. The house was packed with nearly 100 locals, most of them Turner supporters; and the two politicians were far apart on almost every issue that was addressed by the two moderators and the audience.

On the health care reform bill:

Weiner: “An important piece of legislation that will help thousands of young people and seniors.”

Turner: “Repeal the health care bill immediately and replace it with something that really works and helps businesses.”

On privatizing Social Security:

Chamber of Commerce president John Lepore lays down the forum ground rules for the candidates. Below, A large crowd listens as Congressman Anthony Weiner (left) and his challenger, Bob Turner (right), take questions from the audience.  Chamber of Commerce president John Lepore lays down the forum ground rules for the candidates. Below, A large crowd listens as Congressman Anthony Weiner (left) and his challenger, Bob Turner (right), take questions from the audience. Turner: “The government program that we have now has failed. Some program with incentives has to be found to rescue the program.”

Weiner: “Look at what would have happened if President Bush had privatized Social Security when he wanted to do it. Thousands of seniors would be out on the street because of the stock market collapse. We can’t trust the future of seniors to the insurance companies and stock market.”

On the Ground Zero Mosque:

Weiner: “Not the business of a Representative. Our Constitution guarantees that government doesn’t tell any religion where they can or can’t build.”

Turner: “I am opposed to building a victory tower so near Ground Zero.”

On repealing the health care bill:

Turner: The bill is a monstrosity and it stifles business and individuals. It must be repealed immediately.”

Weiner: “So many good parts of the bill would go away – closing the donut hole, covering young people who can’t find a job, stopping those who drop insurance for pre-existing conditions. If you want to repeal it, it is incumbent upon you to say what you would support, rather than just say you oppose it.”

On term limits for federal officials:

Turner: “What we have now perpetuates people in office election after election. We know that Weiner wants to be mayor and is using this election as a stepping-stone to that goal. There should be term limits.”

Weiner: “We have term limits. They are called elections. There are no qualifications for this office except to be 25- years-of-age and a citizen. There should be no other qualifications.”

Moderators Michael Schramm, the editor of the Rockaway Point News joined with Howard Schwach, the editor of The Wave to ask questions and keep the afternoon forum moving. Moderators Michael Schramm, the editor of the Rockaway Point News joined with Howard Schwach, the editor of The Wave to ask questions and keep the afternoon forum moving. On teaching “Intelligent Design” in public school classrooms:

Turner: “God makes the rules and we have to abide by them. That is in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were all Christians and this is a Christian nation. That would be a good thing to teach our children. That is a yes. You are talking about religion as opposed to belief in God. You can teach that there is a creator of every- thing. That is woven into the fabric of our nation.”

Weiner: “I would have to say a strong no. I support parochial schools and yeshivas, places where religion is taught, but it shouldn’t be taught in the public schools. Our Constitution does not allow that, and even our Founding Fathers knew that there should not be a state religion.”

Republican challenger Bob Turner responds to one of the many enquiries. Republican challenger Bob Turner responds to one of the many enquiries. On forcing citizens to purchase health care:

Weiner: “The concept of a free market is not today’s reality. We should force people to have health care because we have to pay for those who don’t. Look at Peninsula Hospital Center. Every time that somebody without insurance goes to its emergency room, we are paying the bill. And, that forces hospitals to close. Would you rather force people to have insurance or pay their bill?”

Turner: “The government has no business in forcing anybody to purchase something they don’t want and don’t need.”

Throughout most of the forum, Weiner was heckled by the largely- Republican partisan audience.

At one point, a moderator stepped up to stop the heckling.

“When you shout down the candidates, you diminish yourself and your party,” the moderator said. “People came to hear the candidates, not you shout them down.”

The moderator was booed for his trouble.

The loudest cheers of the day came for Turner when he made his statement about teaching Intelligent Design.

The forum was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways.

The forum was moderated by Howard Schwach, the managing editor of The Wave and Mike Schramm, the associate editor of the Rockaway Point News. The two each asked a question of each candidate and then turned to questions from the audience, which had been submitted in advance and vetted by the sponsors.

The election will be held next Tuesday, November 2.

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