Berntsen/Townsend Debate: LIVE BLOG PART 1
Liz A. here…
At 7pm, Republican US Senate primary opponents Gary Berntsen and Jay Townsend are squaring off in a live debate at Union College in Schenectady and televised statewide on YNN and NY1.
Roma Torre is hosting. Liz B. is busy grilling the candidates alongside fellow panelists NY1′s Erin Billups and Capital Tonight’s Kaitlyn Ross.
Here are my near-real time updates on the debate:
7:15: Lightning Round time!!!
7:14: In his rebuttal, Bernsten slams “Obama Care” and its potential impact on the nation’s economy.
7:12: Kaitlyn asks Townsend:
You have both said if elected you would work to repeal the National Hear Care Act – but how would you provide health coverage to the thousands of New Yorkers that currently don’t have coverage? What would be a better system?
Townsend says he is opposed to “socializing health care.” Says he supports competition as a way to drive down health care costs and eliminating lawsuits against health care providers.
As a follow up, Kaitlyn asks Townsend whether he thinks that all American deserve to have health coverage. Townsend says he isn’t sure whether it is a civil right. “It isn’t a right to own a car, but most Americans own a car.”
7:09: Erin asks Berntsen:
As the death rate in the war in Afghanistan is at its highest level since 2001, President Obama is facing increasing pressure to withdraw American troops. But General David Patraeus has made it clear that he is against a rapid withdrawal. He says progress is being made on the battlefield. Do you support Patraeus’s plan?
Bernsten says there have been some successes says a “new format” is need in Afghanistan. Suggest a “Freedom Corps” that equalizes the pay for forces there and creates a third international force. He does not support a rapid withdrawal.
Townsend praises Patraeus in his rebuttal and says he will not second guess his judgement, but says that he will listen very carefully to him if he comes to talk to the Senate.
7:07: Townsend says no government or government official can create jobs. He says he does not want to repeal tax cuts.
Bernsten suggests in his rebuttal that New York begin drilling in the Marcellus Shale and export powered milk out of the country. He says he has contacts in Brazil and India that would help him establish those business relationships.
7:06: Liz Benjamin asks her first question to Townsend:
When she first ran for the US Senate in 2000, Hillary Clinton infamously pledged to create 200,000 jobs Upstate. Instead, upstate lost in the neighborhood of 60,000 joba during her first term. How many jobs will you create upstate if you’re elected to the Senate and how – specifically will you do that?
7:05: Townsend in his rebuttal says he too opposes the mosque and has asked the imam to move the Islamic center.
7:04: Roma asks for clarification about whether the government can force the mosque to move. Bernsten says he thinks it’s up to the outcry from the public for force it’s relocation.
7:03: First question to Berntsen from Roma about the proposed mosque near ground zero. Is there is anything that the government can and should do to move the mosque?
Bernsten: “I oppose the construction of the mosque… That mosque will be a magnet to Islamic fundamentalist who will want to use is to case the downtown area.”
7:02pm: Townsend says he’s visited 59 of 62 counties and is describing the economic plight of the state. He says he knows New York from living on a farm, Upstate and in New York City.
7:01pm: Bernsten describes himself as the Republican designated candidate, a best-selling author and former CIA operative.
7pm: Jay Townsend and Gary Berntsen have entered the stage to applause. The two shook hands and Bernsten is now delivering his opening remarks.
6:59pm: And we’re live! Let the games begin!!
6:54pm: Minutes to go until we’re live across New York. The panelists are in position. The audience has arrived and is receiving the “Thank you for coming. Please turn off your cell phones” speech from NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt.
6:23pm: It is nearly go-time. The candidates are here and they’ve already completed their set walk-thru’s. The panelists are getting set.
Here is the format and the rules for this evening’s debate:
The debate will begin with 1-minute opening statements from each candidate. Gary Bernsten won a coin toss this morning, which means he will speak first.
The panelists will then ask a series of questions directed at a specific candidate. The candidate will get 1-minute to give their response. Timing will be indicated by green, yellow and red lights – the yellow light will provide a 15-second warning.
The other candidate will be allowed 45-seconds for a rebuttal.
Panelists will then determine whether an additional 30-seconds will be offered for re-rebuttals.
There will then be a lightning round during which only “yes” or “no” answers are allowed.
After that, the candidates will be allowed to ask one another one question. (We have not pre-screened the questions.)
The panelists will then ask the candidates more questions.
The debate will be followed by a half hour post-show.
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