Monday, May 05, 2008

3rd Congressional District Debate Big Review

I went to the Saturday debate between the 4 candidates vying for Chris Cannon's seat in Congress and it was extremely enlightening. First up I have to thank Ivan Keller for putting it together. That's one thing that I'd love my Leg District to do, but that we haven't (the blame, of course, goes to me as the chair). Now on to my impressions of each of the candidates:

Joe Ferguson. He's the candidate of choice for the John Birch Society and he's a staunch opponent of the North American Union. Of course the NAU is a conspiracy theory project at this point and just because we ratified NAFTA and CAFTA doesn't mean we're all for the NAU (although Joseph Smith proposed it back in the 1840s, so why is it such a bugaboo anyway for Mormons?). Nevertheless, he only had one real opinion - no NAU and no steps towards it.

Jason Chaffetz. Is there a bigger jerk in the race? During the 2 hour debate he managed to toss Orrin Hatch, David Leavitt, Chris Cannon, George W Bush, and his old boss Jon Huntsman under the bus. All of this so he could be seen as the guy who gets things done and says what needs to be said. If you criticize Huntsman's position on global warming, you criticize your policies. If you manage to marginalize yourself from every single member of Congress before you even get to the House, chances are that you will be very ineffective. For someone who touts being a member of Reagan 21 (in fact, he mentioned that he mentioned it before anyone else did, but that was mainly because he was the first one who had the question asked to him), he certainly doesn't belong. What was it that was Reagan's 11th Commandment? "Don't criticize fellow Republicans." That's something Chaffetz could learn from. Another politician he could learn from is Al Gore. Chaffetz managed to pull a Gore and roll his eyes, tut-tut, and shake his head at every opportunity when Chris Cannon was speaking. That comes across as condescending, and if memory serves me correctly, when Gore did it in 2000 against George W Bush it didn't turn out too well for him either. Oh, and one other thing. His "God bless you and God bless the United States of America" line - I hate it. I HATE it. Words can't describe how much that bugs me. If he was the President and this was the State of the Union, that'd be fine. I don't recall any candidate for office, sitting or otherwise, ending his debate performance and his standard stump speech with it. It's ridiculous. Instead of being statesmanlike or whatever he's aiming for, it comes across just like the rest of his performance. Condescending, ill-advised, and patronizing. The sooner we rid ourselves of him the better. One thing I will say - if by some wild stretch of the imagination he is our candidate, I would look very closely at either throwing my vote away or voting for the Democrat. I will not vote for Jason Chaffetz.

David Leavitt. I thought Leavitt gave the best performance in the debate. He was articulate, he was statesmanlike, he made good points, and I thought he aquitted himself quite well.

Chris Cannon. Poor Chris. He's a great guy, but he is not at his best in a forum like this. He's not great at providing a concise, direct answer to a question and it makes him look like a chump. He'll obfuscate and hem and haw on things. At the same time he did make some nice little points like why is Jason Chaffetz running against Cannon in the 3rd District when he lives in the 2nd District and could go against Jim Matheson (answer: because he's a calculating sucker who thinks Cannon is the most vulnerable). There's also his record, which is pretty solid as well.

At the end of the debate, I was leaning more Leavitt, but right now I'm a little bit more in the Cannon camp. The one thing it did serve to do is eliminate Jason Chaffetz from serious consideration.


Mdot said...

I was there too and appreciate your comments on the evening. Chaffetz was PAINFUL for me to watch. He lives for the reaction of the audience but only made rude remarks toward both the other candidates.

I am still leaning Cannon even though the debate wasn't a great one for him. I think that it's hard being the incumbant and having all the candidates sit and take shots at you. The format was clearly more favorable to Leavitt and Chaffetz. It's easy to say "We should this." and "we need to do that." but in practice it's much more difficult and it's a convenient position to take as a challenger to lay the problems of DC on the feet on the sitting Congressman.

Cannon made a sound point - we can't wait for 8-10 years until the Republicans get back the House.

Anonymous said...

Did you attend the same debate I did? It's amazing how different our perspectives are.

I loved Chaffetz. Maybe I've been a little bit biased by the quality of his mailings, but I thought he was by far the most articulate, prepared and specific.

David Leavitt is a very nice man. But I'm not convinced Leavitt can fight for us. He can't even tell the difference between himself and his competitors - how will he make policy distinctions? Leavitt seemed arrogant to me and as usual, he had a hard time being specific unless he was repeating something he's heard Jason Chaffetz say.

I've always liked Cannon. But the way he votes is not the way I would vote. Bottom line - I have to vote for someone who represents me. Cannon sounds like he agrees with me, but unfortunately he doesn't vote that way.

I'll be voting for Chaffetz. Most of the people sitting around me at the debate felt the same way. I guess I wasn't sitting near you!

Anonymous said...

That's also interesting to read...I was at the same debate and felt that Chaffetz is the worst choice of the top three contenders. What's funny is that it's actually CHAFFETZ who is repeating Leavitt. So many things that I have heard Leavitt say from the very beginning of his campaign are now being taken, verbatim in many instances, by Chaffetz. It's amazing that people actually buy Chaffetz sometimes. He has no experience that has prepared him to be in Congress.
I was super impressed with Leavitt, especially when he called Chaffetz out on denouncing Leavitt's position on the need to return to a belief in God in this country.
Joe Ferguson, despite being a conspiracy theorist according to some, is hilarious. What a nice guy.
I like Cannon all right, but I do believe it's time for him to go.
Hands down, I think this debate was won by Leavitt. He showed a lot of class.

Anonymous said...

Chaffetz was well-prepared as one person commented, but he was almost TOO well-prepared. He thinks he has an answer to everything but I think that when he got back to Congress (should he get elected) he would alienate everyone else there. He is too forceful and doesn't seem willing to work with others and compromise. I also REALLY didn't like the way he took shots at the other candidates (we don't need another lawyer in Congress, etc.) I really, really like Leavitt but am still leaning toward Cannon I think. He made some good points despite the fact he may not be the best debater of the group. The main thing he helped me see is that all the info we receive about what he is doing out in DC may not be accurate. These other candidates are taking shots at him and most of them are not quite true. We need to find out what exactly he has and hasn't voted for from him (and why) and not from the people running against him (or the media for that matter). I think he has formed some good relationships with other Republicans and Democrats that will help Republicans get back in the majority quickly. I still haven't decided completely, but that's the way I'm leaning currently.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the only three people at the debate who did not like Jason all banded together to write and post blogs! The crowd, as always, reacted positively to Jason, and not at all to the others. As per usual, Jason was terrific and stole the show. He is so much more clear, articulate, and convincing than the others. He wins on direct mail, on personal appearances and phone calls, on debates, and now even on TV ads. When it comes to the issues, he is by far the most prepared, and has a grasp of policy like no one else in the campaign. The delegate tide is turning overwhelmingly to Jason, as well it should.

Sorro said...

I'm not debating whether or not Chaffetz got the most applause or even whether the delegates liked him the best. I just can't see how that would be the case. You have a candidate who is clearly a political opportunist, who will say anything to be elected, and who is indeed articulate and charismatic. At the same time, he's not the kind of person I would want to represent me, and if he does get out of convention (remember, 2 years ago it seemed like Cannon was on the ropes, but he pulled it out) then I would hope he's defeated in the general election (or preferably in a primary to either Leavitt or Cannon - and if it does go to a primary, either one of them will beat Chaffetz in a landslide).

Anonymous said...

The delegate tide turning overwhelmingly to Jason? What on earth makes you think that?
The truth is this: Jason Chaffetz has a bunch of one-liners that nearly all of us agree with (ie. we need to fix legal immigration, English should be the official language of the US, etc.), but he has absolutely NO explanation for how to accomplish that! Not even a vague explanation! It's really easy to spout off what needs to be done in Congress, but how to do it is a different matter. It's too bad that a lot of people applaud and applaud at his one-liners and naively assume he is taking this election by storm. I've heard Chaffetz speak, and his speeches are nearly the exact same every time he opens his mouth. ("Representative Cannon voted for No Child Left Behind--I want to repeal No Child Left Behind--There shouldn't even be a federal department of education.")
One-liners are fairly easy to use...

Anonymous said...

To the person who is comment number 7 - have you even been to a Chaffetz cottage meeting? I have - twice. He is very detailed. I laughed out loud when I read one of the Leavitt staffers claiming Chaffetz stole material from Leavitt. I've seen the Chaffetz mailers. They're full of detail. I've also seen the Leavitt mailers. What is there to steal? I've got my whole folder of delegate mail here. Let me give you a quick example.

On fiscal discipline:

Leavitt: Establish a sustainable budget with real budget controls and limits on spending.

Chaffetz: Cap non-defense discretionary spending at inflation minus 1%. Give the President the line item veto. End the abusive use of earmarks.

Which candidate's material is worth stealing? I've been to a Leavitt meeting. He doesn't get any more specific than what you see above. If Chaffetz is "stealing" Leavitt's material, that could only mean he's used a values word like "courage" or "loyalty" because that's all his mailers have in them!

Anonymous said...

to the post at 9:12 a.m. I have the same mailer you are probably referring to from Leavitt. What do you mean he only says we should esatablish a sustainable budget? You omitted most of the content! For those who would like to know what Leavitt said in that mailer, here it is:

'It is time to get Federal spending under control."
--The Federal government should not be the provider of local services.
--Limit spending and restore fiscal responsibility
--Review federal programs and reform those worth keeping while eliminating those that no longer serve a valid purpose
--Establish a sustainable budget with real budget controls and limits on spending.
--Stimulate the economy by providing incentives for businesses to expand and create well-paying jobs for our communities.
--Stop borrowing money from nations that do not share our best interests.

I'm disappointed you were willing to frame Leavitt as vague when you only took one line from his mailer.

Anonymous said...

That milquetoast mailer of Leavitt's was the only one he sent that had even a shred of substance to it - however weak that "substance" was. I am shocked at the lack of depth the (very few) Leavitt supporter's I have run into have. We all believe in family values! We all believe in courage and compassion, blah, blah, blah. No one is disputing those things. My question is, what is the role of our Congressman? Would Leavitt attempt passing legislation to regulate or mandate these sky-high ideologies? I have listened to Leavitt several times, and have yet to hear any specifics on HOW he will do anything!!!

I also want to set the record straight about what Jason Chaffetz said. He has NEVER denounced the return to a belief in God in this country! In fact I have heard him say that God should not be banned from the public square. Leavitt intentionally distorted what Chaffetz said in a Deseret News article. The exact quote is:

“’it is not the role of the federal government’ to ensure that there are public observances of God.” (Des News, 3/21/08)

I’m sure Leavitt’s campaign would like voters to read into that statement a denunciation of religion, but it simply isn’t there. Chaffetz merely implies that bringing religion to the masses is not the primary role of a Congressman. I agree.

Sorro said...

I have been inundated by mailers from all the candidates, and all have more than just one liners, whether they've stolen some of it from each other, from others, or just come up with it themselves. I totally agree with Leavitt when he said that there is not 7 hairs difference between the candidates (excepting Joe Ferguson). They are all very similar, they're all conservative, and they all have mainstream Utah values. For me it comes down to tone and diplomacy. Chaffetz, in his attempt to look like the best guy for the job has shown that he's the worst. He has no diplomacy and tact, be it with Democrats or with fellow Republicans. He will be a weak voice in large part because he will be like a bull in the proverbial china shop. He won't be respected by his compatriots on the Utah delegation and he will be at the bottom in Congress as a whole. Cannon, while he blames everything wrong with the world on Democrats, has shown that he can reach across the aisles and get things done (look at the sheer volume of legislation he's passed and the John Conyers Op-Ed that Chaffetz passed out), even if he doesn't do everything exactly as I would have him do it. Leavitt is by far the most agreeable and congenial, and I think that could go a very long way on Capitol Hill. That's the single biggest thing that pushes me towards Leavitt - he has a good command of the issues, but more importantly, he is someone that anybody could work with.

Anonymous said...

To poster #9, I wrote #8. I only used one example from the Leavitt mailer, but your post makes my point. There are no specifics.

What does "limit spending" mean? What does "restore fiscal responsibility" mean? What policies will Leavitt pursue to bring that about?

Why reform programs that are working? Which programs will he eliminate? How will he know which ones no longer serve a valid purpose?

What are real budget controls?

What incentives will Leavitt propose to create jobs and isn't that the role of local government?

In his cottage meetings, Chaffetz is able to answer these specific questions. Leavitt is not.

Anonymous said...

What does fix legal immigration mean?

What does "give the president the line-item veto" mean?

By your same argument, I can question the statements Chaffetz sends out. Obviously, not all mailers are going to have every detail. That's what cottage meetings are for. Have you ever been to a Leavitt meeting? He has spent hours at meetings answering question after question.

As for Cannon, I thought he actually did well at the debate compared to other performances. I don't have that much against him.

Anonymous said...

You know, while I think it is important to have a plan for fixing things, I think it is just as important to go into Congress willing to listen and learn as well. If you have a plan and are stuck to it like it seems Chaffetz is, no one is going to listen. Frankly, neither Chaffetz or Leavitt have any clue what it's really like out there. I like what Leavitt said about the first term being a learning term (though instead of being comforted by him saying he won't run again if he isn't an influencer in three to four terms I'm concerned because we would lose the seniority he had gained...might as well keep Cannon three more terms). Yes, you want to make changes and influence others, but you also want others to respect you and you do that by respecting them and their experience. If you send someone too outspoken, too strong, we may as well not have sent anyone for the good it will do. I REALLY was rubbed wrong by Chaffetz and I think a lot of other people were too. Sure he had a few good one-liners and such but he was, to be honest, rude. It's going to be very interesting to see how Saturday plays out. It could be that the people for Chaffetz are as out-spoken as he are and there aren't as many as it seems. One can hope!

Casey said...

We don't need a Republican patsy for congress. We have that now, the current Republicans have failed miserably, they deserve to be criticized. That is the only way things will get better.
Chaffetz did very well in the debate and all the debates before that. That's because the delegates this year aren't yin vs. yang Republicans. At least Jason stands for something. And how would you know anyway Sorro, you as a delegate haven't even been to any of his meetings.
The undecided delegate are beginning to break for Chaffetz. It's the message, not the fluff. I wont talk negative like you, but at least admit your bias.

Sorro said...

How would I know? I've read his literature. I've seen his website. I've been to campaign events where he has spoken. While I didn't have time to make it to his events because I do work for a living and I do have small children who have a bedtime and his times were extraordinarily difficult to make (due to them not being around mealtimes because he refused to offer food so that he could tout his "fiscally conservative" nature), I wasn't able to go. I was going to make time to until this last debate when his negativity completely turned me off. I really don't care about his message - if he's going to be a jackass about getting it across, I'm not going to vote for him. It's as simple as that.
I am biased against politicians who don't have a modicum of civility and who are merely opportunists (see: Merrill Cook), as is clearly described in the post above. Chaffetz is all fine and good when he's talking to you, but ask him to support a cause like the split up of the Alpine School District (which he said he supported behind closed doors) and suddenly he pulls a vanishing act. He is no different from Governor Huntsman in that way.

Anonymous said...

Jason did TERRIBLE in the Radio debate and the debate in Ephraim was all-around polite and cordial - more of a "warm-up" for Provo's debate.

And everyone comes out of a debate claiming they did well - plus much of that applause in Provo were Chaffetz supporters who just clap to give the "appearance" of approval. Every candidate got positive response from the audience.

One thing is for sure - Chaffetz is contentious! He also tends to be an undermining, contentious, carpet bagger - those facts remain. He attacks and is a divisive person who is "power" hungry - yet cannot do what is necessary and proper to run against Matheson.

the man who wrote that Chaffetz is a "collosal jerk" hit the nail on the head! That is exactly what Jason is - and I do not desire to vote for him (Time will tell what the majority feel).

Sheesh - Chaffetz is a stalker (I mean think about it - what were YOU doing on December 15th at 9:22 pm?). Go home to ALpine, Jason! For the sake of us in the 3rd district...

Chaffetz will fare no better than John Jacob did in 2006 - in fact - I predict Chaffetz Will NOT even match nor do any better than Jacob did in 2006.

Chaffetz is not trustworthy (just ask Gov. Huntsman), he is a fountain of mis-information, he may sound smooth (he is essenitally a RINO = Republican In Name Only) since he used to be a Democrat who ran Dukakis' campaign - plus he is a salesman.

Cannon has the experience and Leavitt can go head to head with him - unless Chaffetz divides the Non-Cannon vote. Cannon will rip Chaffetz to shreads in a primary (if it even gets to a primary)

And what "self-proclaimed" fiscal conservative lives in a $1 to $5 million dollar home in Alpine??

Chris lives in Mapleton (not exactly Alpine) and doesn't David Leavitt live in Nephi?

themickel said...

Brick sums up my reaction to this whole blog-bate perfectly: