When asked what made his opponent unqualified for office: Bob Menendez said his opponent is in the pocket of wealthy Americans; Joe Kyrillos said his opponent was not doing enough to help put the middle class back to work. When Mr Menendez was offered time to respond he cited a series of votes in the State Senate where Mr Kyrillos undermined the interest of middle class: voting against a bill that would grant women equal pay, voting against raising the minimum wage, and voting to cut funding for education.
When asked about Medicare, Mr Menendez cited the story of his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease, and used Medicare to help pay her medical costs. An emotional appeal which is likely to connect with older voters. Mr Kyrillos made an appeal to practicality.
When asked, “can you please specify the programs that you would cut besides public funding for television” to combat the deficit, Mr Kyrillos gave a convoluted response that included blurbs such as: cutting corporate tax rate, cutting taxes for all. All of which common sense tells us would further increase the deficit because cutting a dollar in tax results in one less dollar in government’s coffer. For the same question, Mr Menendez cited a series of legislative accomplishments including the end of a 24-billion dollar tax break for oil companies.
About half way into the debate a foreign policy question came up which allowed the incumbent to strongly state his support for Israel which is important in a state with a large Jewish population. The challenger came out beating an old horse citing Barack Obama’s refusal to meet Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel — which Mr Obama did do to avoid getting dragged into another Middle East war.
Mr Menendez came armed with facts and figures, and used them against his opponent in a Clintonesque manner; Mr Kyrillos just came to the debate.