By Alexi Knock, Assistant News Editor
An unlikely candidate stole the show during Monday night's gubernatorial debate held at the University, complete with one-liners, black gloves and a full beard. The Rent is 2 Damn High Party candidate Jimmy McMillan, a retired letter carrier from Brooklyn, constantly caused laughter among the audience with frequent one-liners that emphasized the main and perhaps only point of his platform: The rent is too damn high. McMillan's colorful platform website has a song in the background that loops "Jimmy McMillan is my name. Rent is Too Damn High is my game."
"I'm a single man, I don't have a girlfriend so you can see why I talk about rent so damn much," said McMillan.
McMillan, who has also been referred to as Papa Smurf on YouTube and several blogs, lives in an apartment he hasn't paid rent for in almost ten years. Although McMillan does not pay for his apartment, his campaign focuses on young people who cannot afford housing due to high rent. "I love being funny I like to see people laugh because you young people are catching hell and you're tired of living with mom and daddy," said McMillan after Monday night's debate. "I want to make sure you can afford your home and be independent."
During the debate, even Democratic Party candidate Andrew Cuomo agreed with McMillan's platform. "I'm with Jimmy, the rent is too damn high," said Cuomo.
Although McMillan was one of the most memorable candidates of the debate, he admitted that he was not completely confident. "A big guy like me having jibberies. Can you imagine?" said McMillan. "I'm a good a talker but all of a sudden somehow here tonight I'm like choking on issues that I usually run down like crazy but that's okay, I'm going to go do some push ups when I get home. I'm going to be just fine."
Another noticeable characteristic of McMillan was the black gloves he wore throughout the debate. McMillan explained that he wears the gloves due exposure to Agent Orange chemicals during the time he served in the Vietnam War.
On the issue of same sex marriage, McMillan stated that New York residents should be allowed to marry a shoe if they so choose. "The point is leave people's personal life alone. A lot of people want to bring their personal issues into this but that's not going to buy you any food," said McMillan. "Who am I to judge who you should marry and who you shouldn't?"
When asked how he would go about legalizing gay marriage, McMillan was vague in his response. "No you don't [have to go through the Senate], you have to go by if I say so," said McMillan. "I teach martial arts and the martial arts form that we teach is I don't care if you're a woman you're still going to rag me, I'm going to try to take your head off. I would throw a back kick on you in a moment. I teach discipline and respect. You're no different to judge nobody else."
After the debate, McMillan stated that he appreciated the positive feedback he received. Senior Jordan Gee, however, did not feel that McMillan's performance was appropriate. "How can you have a party named The Rent is Too Damn High and be a viable candidate in the race for governor?" said Gee. "Do you honestly think that he would be able to run our government? It was just a waste of time."
Rosanna Perotti, Chair of the Political Science Department, felt that despite McMillan's approach, he deserved to be included in the debate. "He struck me as a typical third party fringe candidate. He is sincere in his desire to participate and in his desire to make a difference," said Perotti. "Although, he was making some economic statements that didn't make a lot of sense. He had right to be there but he didn't have a good command of the issues."
When asked if he agreed with the platforms of the other candidates, McMillan admitted that he was not paying attention. "I wasn't listening. I'm here to fight my fight I don't fight your fight," said McMillan. "As a karate teacher I've trained myself to do that. I know I heard them talking but I wanted to make sure that my issues resonate with the people."
McMillan admits that overall, he had some unconventional methods for debating. "The moustache and the Rent is Too Damn High is what got me here and I hope I served the people who signed my petition well," said McMillan. "If I stole the show that's what I wanted to do."