Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Chabot, Cranley argue conservatism


2nd of 4 debates is held in Avondale

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Republican incumbent Steve Chabot and Democratic challenger John Cranley argued in Avondale on Tuesday over whether it is possible to be too conservative to represent the 1st Congressional District.

        In the second of four scheduled debates between the contenders, the 26-year-old Democrat painted a picture of the three-term congressman as a man of extreme views who would do away with the U.S. Department of Education, let HMOs decide on prescription drugs for seniors and vote to take milk away from the babies of disadvantaged mothers.

        Mr. Chabot said it was “a picture of a person I don't recognize.”

        “If all of this my opponent is saying about me were true, I wouldn't vote for me,” Mr. Chabot said before about 200 people at the Urban League offices.

        The two fielded questions from a media panel and the audience for about two hours, but two other candidates for Congress in the 1st District — Libertarian David Groshoff and Natural Law Party candidate Richard Stevenson — sat in the audience and watched.

        Both minor-party candidates had tried to be part of Tuesday night's debate. The Chabot campaign agreed to their inclusion, but the Cranley campaign did not.

        “We made this agreement to have four debates with the Chabot campaign, and we're not interested in changing it,” said Franklin Leonard, a spokesman for the Cranley campaign.

        If Mr. Groshoff and Mr. Stevenson had been included, they would have found themselves in the middle of a battle between the major-party candidates about Mr. Chabot's congressional voting record.

        Mr. Cranley cited a Chabot congressional vote against increased funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, which provides supplemental nutritional help for low-income women with children.

        “It's immoral to call yourself pro-life and not vote for something like this,” said Mr. Cranley, adding that 140 of Mr. Chabot's fellow House Republicans voted for the increase.

        Mr. Chabot said the vote Mr. Cranley referred to was a vote on an increase in WIC funding over and above the increase the House Republican leadership had wanted and said he was just “drawing the line” on federal spending.

        “That's how we got this $5 trillion debt, by putting increases on top of increases,” Mr. Chabot said.

        Chabot and Cranley supporters wearing campaign T-shirts made up the majority of the audience.

        Mr. Cranley, a recent graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Divinity School, is making his first run for public office and is one of the youngest congressional candidates in the country.

        Mr. Chabot, a former Cincinnati councilman and county commissioner, first won election in 1994 in the 1st District, which covers most of Cincinnati and most of its western suburbs.

       



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