Today I had the pleasure of witnessing my next congressman, Lt. Col. Allen West, metaphorically eviscerate current FL-22 congressman, US Rep Ron Klein in a debate held at Lynn University in Boca Raton. Together with The Conservative Divas; assorted friends and activists; and a predominantly pro-West crowd (which outnumbered the Klein supporters by a 3-1 margin in my unscientific estimation), I broke a few of the debate rules by alternately cheering enthusiastically for Allen when making a salient point on a critical issue, and booing Ron Klein profusely when making a patently false characterization about his challenger — something he did quite often during the course of the debate.
In his zeal to paint Allen as an “extremist” — and presumably scare some of the nice little old ladies in the audience — Klein mentioned Sarah Palin’s name several times, a tactic that seemed to have zero effect. Just like his ridiculous attack ads, which take West’s “right wing extremist” remarks at a Fort Lauderdale Tea Party completely out of context, the invocation of Sarah Palin’s name rang hollow as a misguided attempt to deflect attention away from his own 98%-with-Nancy-Pelosi voting record — a fact West reminded the audience about at the beginning of the debate.
I guess Ron hadn’t noticed the huge Tea Party contingent lining the entrance to Lynn University in the hours before the match-up. Or maybe it was just too difficult to come to terms with the fact that they severely outnumbered the handful of Klein supporters on the opposite corner. Suffice it to say, to the majority of folks in attendance, the invocation of Sarah Palin’s name and her endorsement of Allen West are good things.
Ellen, Kathy and I were lucky enough to be seated just a few rows back from the stage, thanks to Ellen’s mom Elaine. The Sun-Sentinel sponsored the event — moderated by their own Antonio Fins — who informed us in his opening remarks that the paper’s editorial board would be considering today’s performances as a final determining factor before deciding on an endorsement.
If they have any shred of integrity, the Sun-Sentinel will declare West the clear winner of the debate, though I hardly expect an endorsement from this notoriously left-leaning publication, if a question posed by Anthony Man (one of their political writers), is any indication. After all, when was the last time a debate questioner asked a liberal candidate if he or she had the “temperament” to hold congressional office? Has it ever happened? If it has, I’ve never witnessed it. And yet that is exactly what Man posed to West — or rather, asked Klein about West, in a transparent effort to continue the “West is a scary extremist” meme.
In fact, the first question Allen fielded (though I cannot recall which of the three questioners posed it) was something like “Are you really a scary black man?” Admittedly, it came across as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the misleading attack ads Klein has been running in the South Florida market, complete with footage of a star-spangled-bandana-wearing Allen proudly declaring himself a “right wing extremist” through a megaphone.
In the calm, cool and collected manner he displayed throughout the entire debate, West handled it well, and in fact elicited a good laugh from the audience at the end of his answer when he noted the only people who think he’s scary are probably his daughters when he’s administering necessary parental discipline.
Though it’s tough to choose a favorite, some of the most memorable moments included Allen’s passionate chiding of Democrat Party operatives for putting his entire family at risk by publishing his Social Security number online; referring to specific passages of the US Constitution that specifically qualify him to represent FL CD-22 though he lives outside of the district (on that point he also took a nice shot at former FL CD-19 Congressman and Maryland resident, Robert Wexler, causing the crowd to erupt in applause); and the thundering chants of “Go West!” from a rowdy, on-its-feet audience at the end of Allen’s closing remarks (thankfully, he got to go last).
Strikingly, Lt. Col. Allen West was the only candidate who consistently referred to specific articles and passages in the United States Constitution to either defend his own positions or state his opposition to Klein’s (which among other things include voting for stimulus, Obamacare and Cap and Trade).
For his part, Ron Klein, when not pretending to be a fiscal conservative (lol), spent most of his time assaulting Allen’s character and whining about the alleged “incivility” of the campaign, apparently oblivious to his own party’s despicable machinations that put the entire West family at risk.
I did get some great footage of the entire event, and due to some technical snafus, they are not quite ready to post. However, as soon as I get them loaded onto YouTube, I will post them here on the blog as well. In the meantime, enjoy one of Allen’s awesome ads!
And here’s the Palm Beach Post’s coverage, including a photo of yours truly — well, a photo of my back at least! ;)
Look for Ellen and me to appear in the Sun-Sentinel’s coverage, as their photographer took many shots of us and asked for our names at the end of the debate.
Update: First video from The Conservative Diva coverage of yesterday’s event