by Javier Manjarres
The first Republican primary debate between the candidates hoping to unseat Demcratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was hosted by the Women’s Republican Club of Miami, Federated, at the Miami-Dade College Wolfson Campus in Miami.
For the most part, aside from a few glistening moments, the debate was uneventful. The participants were businessman Ozzie deFaria, activist Joe Kaufman, businesswoman Karen Harrington, and radio show host Juan Eliel Garcia. The other candidate in the race is Gineen Bresso, who seems to always find an excuse to miss debates. Bresso has avoided all press inquiries and forums and debates thus far.
All of the candidates identified themselves as ‘conservative’ and expressed agreement on most of the issues as well as their belief that they would defeat Wasserman Schultz come November.
Early on, Joe Kaufman adamantly tried to drive the point that he was a life-long Republican, and then added that he would work to pass a balance budget amendment, and the help to balance the national budget in 10 years, were he to be elected to the Congress. In his closing remarks, Kaufman said that former Democratic President Jimmy Carter had business experience, and look what we got from him. This was an indirect swipe at both deFaria and Harrington for touting their respective business experience.
When I become a US congressman, you will be able to trust me, because I will always do the right thing.- Joe Kauffman
deFaria said that, “unlike Joe, growing up poor, I wanted to make money,” after Kaufman stated that he never strived to be rich. deFaria called out critics of his misrepresentation of the money his campaign has raised, by stating that he “will put up $1 million into the race,” because he thought the race was that important.
deFaria defensibly made this statement after his campaign was called out for misrepresenting its donations. deFaria had stated that he has raised $400,000 in total receipts from over 1000 donors, but in reality, he had only raises $121,000 from donors, the rest of the money was put up by deFaria himself.
While there’s arguably no one in the race more ardent about the War on Terror and Islamic Fundamentalism than Kaufman, his passion about this one issue always seems to get the better of him and he comes across to many as a wild-eyed extremist, further reinforcing the reputation he has established.
The newbie to the race is Garcia. Garcia stated that he comes from a military background and says that he has created numerous jobs while being employed by his current employer. His statement that “people making this a personal race.” was a direct swipe at Joe Kaufman and Ozzie deFaria for their continued attacks on Karen Harrington.
Harrington did not mix it up with either deFaria or Kaufman- even after they went after her, she stayed above the fray. While Harrington looked a bit relaxed , her delivery made her come across a tad bit unprepared- she sounded scripted.
All of the candidates disagreed with President Bush on the bank bailouts, and with President Obama on the auto bailouts.
When asked which of Wasserman Schultz’s votes was her worst, everyone agreed that it was her vote for Obamacare.
Below are the candidates’ responses to a number of issues-
Ryan budget plan- Would you have voted for the Ryan budget plan?
deFaria- Yes- “its the right first step, I absolutely support Paul Ryan”
Garcia- No it’s “not totally balanced, its not totally secured.”
Harrington- No-agrees with Garcia, says it is a “good first step.” Says she is in favor of some of the budget plan but is concerned about the loopholes, like the fact that payments to medicare are only set to increase at the rate of inflation, right now medicine is rising above the rate of inflation not being addressed.
Kaufman -Yes, called Ryan “Courageous”
Raising the Social Security age-
Yes-Kaufman- not sure what the age should be, and says its a “necessity” to raise it.
Yes-defaria-is in favor of Social Security reform, says that Seniors 55 years and above should not see a change in their benefits -says retirement age should start at age 67.
Yes-Garcia-agrees with deFaria.
Yes-Harrington-one year increments, then re-address the budget
Obama on Libya
deFaria and Kaufman agree that the U.S. should not get involved in Syria, and should not have gotten involved in Libya.
Harrington-is against involvement in Syria, says Obama blundered Libya, and sided with Allen West and others that Obama ignored the War Powers Act.
Garcia-says that unless we are called upon for help, we should get involved- only protect our allies.
Kaufman supports U.S. preemptive strike on Iran, cited Iraq
defaria,Garcia, and Harrington, all disagree with Kaufman. Garcia stated that the U.S. should “let Israel handle it themselves.”