Rick Lazio on Principles & Values
Former Republican/Conservative Representative (NY-2)
I offered to shake hands, but he kept badgering me. I only had time to utter one sentence in response before Russert ended the debate. I don't know whether Lazio and his advisers thought they could fluster me or provoke me into anger.
The debate was another turning point in the race that helped push some voters into my corner, although I didn't realize it right away.
Lazio had come across as a bully rather than the nice guy he was trying to project. Public opinion polls & focus groups soon made it clear that a lot of voters, especially women, were offended by Lazio's tactics
LAZIO: Iíve done that many times. In Congress, supporting NAFTA and the assault weapons ban after receiving thousands and thousands of calls from people who wanted me to go in a different direction, because I felt it was the right thing to do. I think itís very important to stand up for your beliefs. Even in this race, I know there are a lot of people who would like to see casino gambling. In one of our former debates, I expressed my personal opposition to casino gambling although I believe in the end itís a state decision. So I think there are many, many times when I have demonstrated independence on a whole range of issues.
LAZIO: Itís not a matter of personal dislike, [but] to point at the differences between candidates and the philosophy between two candidates.
Q: Do you dislike him?
CLINTON: No. I think that I have no personal animus at all toward Mr. Lazio. He seems like a very nice person.
Q: Well, name three things that you like about him.
CLINTON: Well, it seems like he has a very nice family. And that he has worked very hard. And that heís an attractive young man.
Q: And you name three things you like about her.
LAZIO: Well, I think youíre an attractive woman. And I think youíve got a very nice family. Iím sure youíre a very good mother as well.
CLINTON: Thank you very much. But thatís not what this electionís about. And what it is about are the very significant differences between us on everything like education and health care and the economy and the environment and guns and choice and Social Security and the budget surplus.
LAZIO: What we did try and send bills to the president, which the president vetoed. It was the work of people like me on the Budget Committee that got to the first balanced budget in a generation. I voted for the highest levels of federal aid to education in our history, in part because we made the tough decisions back in 1994. Yes, we voted to balance the budget. Yes, we New York has had a history of having one senator in each party. Iím looking forward to working with [Democrat] Chuck Schumer in the Senate. Iíve been in the minority and the majority. I know that itís the people in the majority who craft the bills, who write the language, who are in a position to actually get the job done. I think we need somebody in the majority party who can work well with others, who can be independent and whoís got the ability to make sure that New York gets its fair share.
LAZIO: New Yorkers say, ďYou got to tell it like it is.Ē I can relate with New Yorkers lives, the fact that we have a great melting pot here in New York. Our ethnic diversity is our strength. Itís why people from throughout the world want to come to New York. Weíre tough, bottom-line people. We donít want to hear a lot of talk. We have a history of rolling up our sleeves [and working]. Iím very, very proud to be a life-long resident of this state.
LAZIO: Mrs. Clintonís last remark has to redefine the word chutzpah. Mrs. Clinton, you, of all people, shouldnít try to make guilt by association. Newt Gingrich isnít running in this race, Iím running in this race. Letís talk about my record. Letís lower taxes. Letís deregulate energy. And letís build on my work in Congress already to get the job done.
A review of Lazioís record found ample support for that argument. In his first two years in Congress, when Democrats were in control, Lazio voted in favor of the Clinton administrationís legislation more often than almost any other Republican. For instance, a study by Congressional Quarterly found that in 1994, Lazio supported the president on 72% of the votes on which the president took a position, a higher percentage than all but two other Republicans in the House.
But after Republicans won control of the House in the 1994 elections, Mr. Lazio became a strong advocate of most of the items in the Contract with America, the partyís election manifesto. Since then, he has been much less supportive of the president.
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Log Cabin Republicans is the nationís largest gay and lesbian Republican organization. Log Cabin was founded to battle the nationís first anti-gay ballot measure -- Californiaís Proposition 6 in 1978. We enlisted Ronald Reagan to publicly oppose the measure, which was then defeated. Since then, Log Cabin Republicans has grown and expanded to become a leading voice on the national stage on behalf of the mainstream concerns of the gay and lesbian community.
We care deeply about equality and we hold Republican views on crime, fiscal responsibility, and foreign policy. We believe in individual rights rather than group rights. We believe in limited government rather than big government. We believe that free markets lead to free people and that all Americans should be able to participate fully in the political process.
We represent the next generation for the gay and lesbian community. No longer will we be told where we must live, how we must dress, and how we must vote. Now there is a political alternative. We know that we will move ahead only when gay people are honest about who they really are. And as the far right continues its drive to dominate our Party, Log Cabin Republicans joins other mainstream Republicans on the front lines of the battle for the Republican Partyís future.
As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body, we propose not just to change its policies, but to restore the bounds of trust between the people and their elected representatives. That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.
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