Skip to comments.Sessions, Frost keep gloves on - 1st joint appearance by Dist 32 candidates is polite peek at issues
Posted on 01/26/2004 8:31:30 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Sessions, Frost keep gloves on
1st joint appearance by District 32 candidates is a polite peek at issues
08:29 AM CST on Monday, January 26, 2004
In detailing their divisions on civil liberties and the role of the federal government, Congressmen Pete Sessions and Martin Frost on Sunday foreshadowed the key issues of their nationally notable campaign-in-the-making.
Their participation in a political issues breakfast forum at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas marked the first time the congressmen appeared together in public since Mr. Frost, a 13-term Arlington Democrat, announced Jan. 16 that he would challenge Mr. Sessions, a four-term Dallas Republican, for the District 32 seat.
"The poorest of the poor have color TVs ... indoor plumbing," Mr. Sessions said, disputing a question about the economic gap between the wealthiest and poorest Americans becoming historically wide.
Government should help poor people through a combination of tax cuts and economic incentives that keep interest rates low and create quality jobs for them, Mr. Sessions said. He also said he would support a flat tax over graduated taxes based on income.
Mr. Frost said that the poorest Americans often need direct government intervention to succeed.
"Government has a role to play. We want no one left behind in this country," Mr. Frost said.
Both congressmen said they support, in principle, the USA Patriot Act, which Congress passed months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to combat foreign terrorism. Critics say the government uses its provisions to violate U.S. citizens' civil rights.
"We cannot let our country become a police state," Mr. Frost said, adding that law enforcement agencies have sometimes abused the act.
"It's in the public interest and the public good," Mr. Sessions said of the Patriot Act. "I don't think we have something to fear."
They also differed on health care issues, with Mr. Frost panning the recent passage of a Republican-backed plan as a failure to adequately lower prescription drug costs. Mr. Sessions supports the plan.
But considering this race's importance and their disagreements, the joint appearance was a genteel affair, at times bordering on breezy.
Mr. Frost and Mr. Sessions mugged together with nervous Boy Scouts for camera-toting fathers. They chatted off-microphone before and after the discussion.
And overt campaign rhetoric? Save for a couple of redistricting jokes delivered by Mr. Frost, it was practically nonexistent, at least in the presence of more than 250 people at the early-morning eggs-and-orange juice forum.
"This was official business, not campaigning," Mr. Sessions said, adding that he agreed to participate in October, three months before Mr. Frost announced his intentions. "It was casual, educational an opportunity to inform."
Said Mr. Frost: "This is just an opportunity for [voters] to get to know who we are."
Statements such as these are a steep departure from the congressmen's virulent talk of two weeks ago. Then Mr. Sessions deemed Mr. Frost a "hard-core liberal," and Mr. Frost promised that "this will be one of the most contested, interesting races across the entire country."
After the forum, Mr. Frost twice noted that he voted for the Republican-backed "No Child Left Behind" education act, while Mr. Sessions did not.
Mr. Sessions, in turn, proclaimed, "I have no Achilles' heel" among the racial, ethnic and religious groups in Republican-leaning 32nd District, which includes sections of Oak Cliff, Irving, Richardson, North Dallas, University Park and Highland Park.
"My wife is Hispanic. I'm close with the Jewish and Asian populations here," Mr. Sessions said. "We will split the Jewish vote."
Mr. Frost is the only Jewish Texan ever elected to Congress. Mr. Sessions is a Methodist.
Both men predicted that they would raise and spend at least $2.5 million each during the campaign a conservative estimate, political consultants say. Mr. Sessions said he would report about $750,000 cash on hand when federal campaign finance filings become public at month's end. Mr. Frost will report about $700,000, he said.
When a federal court upheld the Legislature's congressional redistricting map this month, Mr. Frost found himself drawn out of his domain, District 24.
Can he win District 32?
"No," said Stephen Shore, a temple member and Frost supporter, who then backed off his prediction. "It's a long, hard fight between now and November. We'll see, won't we?"
Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/012604dnmetfrostsessions.55947.html
Go, Pete, go !
It couldn't happen to a nicer guy ...
It looks better on his resume'.