Cicilline, Loughlin give CD1 voters a real choice

Now that’s what I call a debate!

There’s no question that voters in the 1st Congressional District have a clear choice as they decide who they want to send to Washington as a successor to U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Democrat David Cicilline and Republican John Loughlin clashed at tonight’s WPRI debate over everything from Social Security and climate change to Cicilline’s record on ethics and education as mayor.

I didn’t think there was a clear winner, which is not a knock on either candidates – both of them made their cases effectively and energetically. (Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming disagreed with me on that score; he gave Loughlin “a very slight edge.”) That was partly thanks to a very solid set of questions from Tim White and his two Projo assistants – they asked about issues that brought out clear distinctions between the two.

“It’s going to be a very active two weeks in this race” before voters go to the polls on Nov. 2, Fleming told me after the debate. “I think this race could be close depending on if Mr. Loughlin can raise the money to get his message out these last two weeks.”

You can read a recap of the debate right now on; the entire 90-minute video will be posted in the same place later tonight. In the meantime, here are some quick post-debate impressions:

* As expected, Loughlin came out swinging against Cicilline from the start, trying to put the mayor on the defensive – which he did quite effectively at times. Cicilline’s weakest moment was an HR-exec-like explanation for why his department heads allegedly have been getting extra vacation time. Still, I didn’t hear anything that could be described as a knock-out punch, and Cicilline was on his game tonight. That’s welcome news for the Democrat, since polls show him with a double-digit lead over his opponent.

* Social Security has emerged as the issue of this race – which is almost always good news for the Democrat, in this case Cicilline. The two men argued fiercely over whether Loughlin’s support for allowing younger workers to divert their payroll taxes into personal investment accounts is “privatization.” Loughlin says it could be done without damaging traditional Social Security; Cicilline notes that it would worsen the Social Security system’s finances by depriving it of revenue needed to pay benefits now. You’ll hear more about that in the next two weeks.

* Speaking of Social Security, neither man gets a Profile in Courage award for his pandering support of giving seniors extra Social Security payments when inflation is too low to merit an annual increase under the standard formula. Deficit much?

* Grades for Patrick Kennedy’s tenure as congressman: A “C” from Loughlin, an “A- or B+” from Cicilline. Both men praised Kennedy’s success in passing a mental health parity law – which, oddly enough, was also used to enact the hated TARP.

* Like many Republicans nowadays, Loughlin is a climate change skeptic. “I think there is no scientific consensus … on human-caused global warming at this point,” he said, later adding: “Clearly the earth is warming, but it’s not conclusive yet that it’s caused by man.” Although he pivoted to talk about his opposition a cap-and-trade bill (which Cicilline supports), that may have been a jarring statement for independents in deep-blue Rhode Island.

* For all the argument over extending the Bush tax cuts, the two candidates are in agreement on 80% of them. That’s because extending the Bush tax cuts for all households costs an estimated $3.7 trillion; extending them for those making under $250,000 would cost $3 trillion. The difference – $700 billion – is a lot of money, but it’s less than one-fifth of the entire bill for extending them. Just sayin’.

* My favorite line was when Loughlin said Democrats keep arguing “we’re just one more stimulus package from prosperity.” Ouch!

All in all, tonight’s debate showed that 1st District voters have a clear choice between a true Democrat and a true Republican as they decide who to support. Agree? Disagree? Have your own favorite moments? Leave your thoughts in the comments – no registration required.

9 thoughts on “Cicilline, Loughlin give CD1 voters a real choice

  1. Thought Cicilline had the clear edge. Loughlin did come out swinging, but he was overheated and downright rude at times which will turn off voters. He also is way out on the ideological fringe of the Republican Party which, as noted above, was revealed in full force tonight.

    On the other hand, Cicilline is in step with Rhode Island voters and clearly knows what he’s talking about. I’m looking forward to voting for him on November 2nd.

  2. I like what I’m seeing with John Loughlin. He represents something new in Rhode Island politics. Cicilline is more of the same. I’m tired of politicians like Cicilline.

  3. It was great getting to see the two of them debate tonight. I was really surprised that Loughlin chose to defend tax breaks for the richest 1% of Americans. At a time like this when so many are on unemployment or just struggling to get by why shouldn’t the heaviest tax burden fall on millionaires and billionaires.

  4. John Loughlin should be elected by a landslide after this debate. He made Cicilline scream out “Your facts are wrong!” which by definition is impossible, facts are always true. Loughlin is right about Social Security since everybody who comes into the system pays for the people leaving the system and eventually, the number of people requiring money is greater than the amount of money available. I don’t think Loughlin was rude, just disgusted with the same talking points over and over. With that said, this IS Rhode Island so I fully expect Cicilline to go ahead to Washington as the sheep vote another empty yes man into office for the Democratic machine.

  5. Shswn, I think Cicilline’s point was that Loughlin may be entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. So his facts were, in fact, wrong.

  6. I thought that they both held their own ground during this debate. It was interesting to finally hear them debate. I’m leaning toward a Loughlin vote.

  7. Oberon, I checked just to be clear and here’s what it said for fact:

    fact   /fækt/ [fakt]

    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.

    In a debate, you can’t let emotion rattle you to make errors like Cicciline did. There is no such thing as “his own facts”, facts are actual verified truth. He should have said “your statements are wrong” instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s