Skip to comments.McCaul, Streusand finally square off (Texas CD 10)
Posted on 03/24/2004 11:11:02 AM PST by SwinneySwitch
Candidates for new congressional district focus on their Republican credentials.
HOUSTON -- Face to face for the first time since the primary, GOP congressional candidates Ben Streusand and Michael
McCaul stayed in tune with a runoff campaign that has devolved into an issue-free contest based on questioning each other's Republican credentials.
After several previously scheduled debates fell through when Streusand didn't show up, and after some last-minute negotiations needed to get McCaul to show up Tuesday, the two candidates sparred at an evening event organized by several Houston-area Republican clubs.
Streusand and McCaul will face off in an April 13 runoff that will decide who will represent the new 10th Congressional District, which stretches from Austin to suburban Houston.
No Democrat sought the seat, and, to date, no third-party or independent candidates have qualified for the November general election ballot.
The evening featured a four-question Q-and-A that showed little difference on the issues as the candidates, businessman Streusand and former federal prosecutor McCaul, tried to make the case that they had the most valuable experience.
Both offered bedrock Republican values, promising to defend the nation's borders, get government out of the way of business, cut federal spending and work to ban abortion.
The event started with opening-statement thrust and parry, with McCaul getting the ball rolling.
"I am getting kind of bloody, I must say, recently," McCaul said, blaming Streusand for a campaign that has "spiraled into one of the most negative, nasty campaigns the state of Texas has ever seen."
"The truth will prevail at the end of the day," McCaul said. "Good will prevail over evil, and it's time for this negative campaign to stop."
Streusand responded by blaming McCaul for initiating the negative battle.
"I am as committed as he is to running a clean campaign, and I want you to know that despite the expressions of righteous indignation on his part and despite the feeling that I don't feel like I've been treated fairly, I hope tonight we can talk about the issues," Streusand said.
What followed was 45 minutes of questions and answers that showed little difference between the candidates on the issues. McCaul touted his experience as an anti-terrorism official in the U.S. attorney's office.
Streusand, a mortgage banker, seemed unimpressed with McCaul's government service.
"Who do you want to give your checkbook to?" he asked voters in his closing statement. "Do you want to give it to somebody who has been in private enterprise his entire life, or do you want to give it to somebody who has worked for state and federal government his entire life?"
McCaul closed by challenging Streusand to stop running ads that erroneously say McCaul failed to sign an anti-tax hike promise.
Previous efforts to stage debates after the March 9 primary fell through when Streusand backed out of events in Houston and Brenham. His campaign cited a scheduling conflict when he missed a previous Houston event and dissatisfaction with event organizers when he skipped the Brenham debate.
The Brenham event had been organized by McCaul's Washington County chairman, who also is the head of a GOP club in that county.
Until Tuesday afternoon, McCaul was unsure whether he would attend the event because of concerns about moderator Debbie Riddle, a state representative and Streusand supporter. After several hours of negotiations, McCaul decided to show up.
Streusand, who has put more than $2.3 million of his own money into what has become the nation's most expensive congressional race, is running television spots tying McCaul to Democrats, a link that could be fatal in this heavily Republican district.
McCaul has been forced to spend much of his time and some of his money ($1 million so far) responding and reminding GOP voters that Streusand, who has given more than $500,000 to Republican candidates and causes, made contributions to two Democrats, former U.S. Rep. Ken Bentsen and former U.S. Sen. Bob Krueger.
Streusand's commercials note that McCaul worked in the Justice Department under President Clinton. The spot does not mention that McCaul was a nonpolitical appointee who began at the agency when the first President Bush, who is endorsing him, was in office.
Sounds like Ken wishes somebody other than a Republican were running.
About 50 people attended. Majority were campaign staff or volunteers. 5 or 10 associated with the various Republican clubs that sponsored the debate, mostly "1960 Area Republicans". 10 - 15 precinct chairs or just interested citizens. (Shame again!)
Very structured debate.
4 questions addressed by each(same question)
My notes on the debate (all paraphrasing):
McCaul: (paraprased, see article) I am just a simple family man lawyer, why am I getting picked on so much?
Streusand: Elect me to cut taxes and spending etc.
Question 1. How will you curb spending?
McCaul: We must consider sunset laws, look at the deficit, and how spending bills are passed in omnibus budget
Streusand: I am a businessman, I know that there is and should be a limited amount of money. We must only spend on what is necessary, can't spend on everything.
2. What do you think about or what would you do about job outsourcing to other countries?
Streusand: Penalizing companies and corporations is not the answer. We need to reduce the government burdens so that US business can compete on a fair basis
McCaul: yeah, me too. Plus for all of our high knowledge jobs we lose, we should provide re-training in community colleges
3. Is the Canadian border a bigger threat to US security than Mexico border?
McCaul: (first sentence mentioned illegal aliens problem). Blah blah blah (no meat); NEXT 4 SENTENCES HE SAYS WE HAVE TO DO SOMETING ABOUT THE "UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS"; THE "UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS PROBLEM";! Nothing about law enforcement or closing borders!
Streusand: More border patrol, more law enforcement cooperation,SECURE BOTH BORDERS!
4. Do you believe life begins at conception? Do what to change things?
Streusand: Yes. Focus on electing constructionist judjes that respect the constitution; get the feds out of this and back to the states
McCaul: Yes. (something about a prenatal protection act). Change the culture.
Stresand: Tax reform, reduce healthcare costs by removing government burdens, attack government waste that makes me sick! (gave examples of waste)
McCaul: I am a good man, the campaign is so hard, I have been attacked,..... (He actually sniffed, voice cracked just a little. Reminded me of Ron Brown funeral video of Clinton. IMO, This guy showed his lawyer training with the crocodile tears).
End of presentation.
What happened when it was over: I asked the Streusand staff about the negative ads. They say it started with negative phone calls in Travis county that they blame on McCaul's campaign. McCaul's campaign says that Streusand started it. He said / She said.
I saw pictures of Streusand campaign signs that were defaced, the middle cut out or blacked out. Not sure who did it from pictures, but they think it was McCaul supporters.
FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE: After the debate ended, I go outside to have a smoke, I was one of the first or only persons to go outside. ALL THE STREUSAND CAMPAIGN SIGNS HAD BEEN REMOVED; ONLY THE MCCAUL SIGNS REMAINED.
Good question: Why would the candidate who led the primary by 10% be motivated to escalate the negative campaign? Which candidate would be motivated to steal and deface the other's signs?
The "who went negative first" question cannot be proven by either camp. Looks like Streusand because he did it first in broadcast.
I wanted to give McCaul the benefit of the doubt, and still do. He may not have known about or approved of sign stealing.
BUT... his comments about "UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS", 4 times! shows his Austin Political Correctness attitude. The crying game about "poor me being attacked by negative ads", looked very weak. I know that this style of debate is difficult, but his responses were much more mealy-mouthed platitudes without stating his ideas or plans for action, but he liked someone else's plan, or we should look at this problem, etc.
Sorry if I stepped on anyone's toes here.
But I see Ben Streusand as a leader.
He was the FIRST to send mailers and do broadcast commercials supporting tax reform and abolishing the IRS.
He was the FIRST to send mailers and do broadcast commercials for ending illegal immigration.
He was the FIRST to send mailers and do broadcast commercials for stopping gay marriage.
He was the ONLY ONE to send mailers to me stating that he will fight for parental notification, rights of the unborn, stop fed funding for abortion, protect caregivers that refuse to participate in abortions.
McCaul mostly says: Me too.
I don't like the negative ads between these two Republicans. I told them so. I told Streusand's people that I was going to give McCaul a second look because of some of Streusand's prior donations to dems (even though he raised .5 million for Republicans).
But after last night, no way am I going to vote for a PC Austin Lawyer Perry Buddy that wants to take care of the "UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS PROBLEM" and cry about politics being tough. Go back to your civil service job, MM.
MORE TO COME IN THE NEXT SEGMENT:
McCaul and Janet Reno - I have more info.
McCaul and Johnny Chung - I have more info.
I got a commitment and should have Streusand's responses soon!
That term is EXCLUSIVELY designed for PC purposes and only two crowds of people use it: (1) the left wing MeCHistas, LULACs, marxists, and Cruz Bustamantes who want the illegals for their votes and (2) the Cornynite Republicans who are trying to sugarcoat an amnesty-lite program because they want the cheap labor.
NOBODY who truly believes in border security uses the term "undocumented workers" to refer to illegals. NOBODY who is truly opposed to amnesty uses the term "undocumented workers" to refer to illegals. McCaul clearly had a freudian slip with that one and I sincerely hope it costs him the election now.
That's another complaint I've had with McCaul - he's whiny when he gets attacked over something he KNEW was public record and he KNEW would come up in his campaign. As the old saying goes, if you can't take the heat get out of the kitchen.
Be careful about posting that kind of stuff. It may prompt Mike "Undocumented Workers" McCaul to dispatch Jack Stick, who will then send you an angry email. You should have a little time to prepare in between though as he won't be able to call up Stick until he's done crying ;-)
WOSG and many others helped put the questionnaire together. I have just been bugging the candidates for a response. Should I resend it to make sure they have it?
A FIB is an untruth. It is truthful to say McCaul worked for Clinton and Reno. Just like I work for Time Warner. That doesn't mean I agree with everything Time Warner does or stands for, in fact I'm frequently repulsed by what they stand for (Time, CNN, Sex In The City, gay benefits, etc.). Someone *could* resign over something like that. Gary Aldrich did. Mike McCaul didn't, just like I haven't quit my job. I don't fault him for this but neither do I fault a businessman for contributing to some folks he disagrees with because he feels he needs political protection. Ask Bill Gates the punishment one can suffer for not greasing powerful political palms.
Ask yourself who the liberals want to win this race. Who does the Statesman endorse? Who does the Houston Chronicle endorse? Even the Austin Chronicle gave McCaul a backhanded (the most moderate of the right wing nuts) endorsement. Do you think any of them have an interest in furthering the conservative agenda? So why do they want McCaul elected, even as a lesser of two evils? If Streusand were a stealth Democrat, wouldn't the liberal papers do their best to slam McCaul rather than praise him?
Could it be because they know McCaul can at least be counted on to be beholden to his handlers? He doesn't have the money to run this campaign. Some folks are going to own him big time if he wins. And they'll expect him to vote as they tell him to vote. That's how politics work.
Streusand can get elected without the GOP's help. That's a dangerous thing to the powers that be. It could make him a pariah like Ron Paul but it could also turn him into the type of congressman that is independant enough to have some sway on close issues. If his vote cannot be taken for granted, it may mean he can barter some good stuff back to his district.
Ask yourself who gets wooed, wined and dined at party conventions - the guy the party can count to go along with the herd, or the undecided who need to be convinced before joining the pack? It's the latter. Let's let the GOP work for our vote rather than just taking us for granted.
BTW, I'm not attacking McCaul. I don't have a quarrel with people who vote for him. I'm not calling people "slimeball" and "liar". I'm just tired of getting less than we should from the party who claims to be conservative and I want somebody who will hold their feet to the fire instead of just being a rubber stamp. The Bush/Rove/Perry/Cornyn candidate is not going to rock the boat.
Maybe Streusand won't be the boat-rocker either but I know he'll be better positioned to be that guy, if elected, than a brokered McCaul would be. He'll owe too many chits to be his own man.
Weren't you steamed when Perry endorsed Green instead of the incumbent Justice Smith? So why should their endorsements impress me when I know they care more about putting their proxies into office than keeping in solid conservatives?
Yes I have. The answer to one is that he was on the finance comittee directly involved in banking / mortgage legislation impacting Ben's business. The other was an honorarium for a speech, also business related; it would have been illegal to pay the government official directly for his appearance. There was another not mentioned here, but in campaigns against him, which was over 25 years ago. All small amounts. He raised over 500,000 for Republicans, over the most recent years.
Streusand has never run for office before. He was not so concerned with "Purity", but with building a successful business, and in a highly govt. regulated business.