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NY Gubernatorial Debate held at University

By Alexi Knock, Assistant News Editor

"It was just a motley crew and it was fantastic," Frank Sicoli, philosophy professor and writer for Politics Daily said of Monday night's 2010 New York Gubernatorial Debate. "I found it more entertaining than most prime time television."

The New York 2010 Gubernatorial Debate gave each candidate about two minutes to respond to questions that mostly devolved in candidates taking the opportunity to criticize each other.

"Politicians are the biggest whores in this state," said Kristin Davis, the Anti-Prohibition Party candidate. "I may be the only person here with the experience to deal with them."

Libertarian Party candidate Warren Redlich felt that the State Commission, who deliberates about the issues of the state government, is overpaid for a job that isn't difficult. "Give me, Howie and Mr. Barron 300 bucks and we could do it with a six-pack and a pizza," said Redlich.

Before the debate, Paladino's campaign manager Michael Caputo said that the night might turn into a Broadway show. When asked the role Paladino would play, Caputo later added that Paladino would be "director."

After the debate, some of the candidates reflected on their own performances. "I think I definitely dispelled the myth that blondes are smarter than their hair color," said Anti-Prohibition candidate Kristin Davis. "And it was great that we all had the opportunity to advocate for what we believe in."

Charles Barron, the Freedom Party candidate, felt that the format of the debate caused some of its major issues. "The format was constricting because you can't hit all the things you want to hit," said Barron. "I think that tonight wasn't suitable unless you're just here for one liners."

The debate sparked many different reactions from students, candidates and faculty alike.

Matt De Marco, a senior, questioned the Freedom Party candidate's approach. "My least favorite part of the debate was Charles Barron's constant claims of racism, even going so far as to criticize the moderators for not having enough minorities on the stage," said De Marco.

De Marco, like many students, thought the debate was unexpectedly amusing. "Most students probably found it more entertaining than anything," said De Marco. "The way I look at it, I've seen two great comedy shows in Hofstra's Mack Center this year: Jimmy Fallon and the 2010 Gubernatorial Debate."

Those who expected to see a fight between Cuomo and Paladino may have been disappointed, as both candidates were kept under the radar of the minor parties. "Cuomo did very well. He answered each question eloquently and reassuringly," said De Marco. "Also, he talked about the issues, rather than fire back at the other candidates who berated him with insults."

Although the debate was full of surprises, De Marco thought that it was a positive event for the University to hold. "I think the debate was definitely beneficial for Hofstra," said De Marco. "We're now known for hosting two of the most ridiculous debates in American history. Any press is good press, and I think Hofstra will surely reap the benefits from its association with this circus of a debate."

Kristin Waltiere, sophomore, felt that the debate should not have had so many entertaining elements. "The debate seemed more like a Comedy Central roast. Every candidate was trying to make fun of another to get their point across and that isn't how politics should be," said Waltiere. "It was a joke. The audience was laughing so hard that several of the candidate's answers couldn't even be heard."

Waltiere felt that the amount of people involved in the debate caused distractions from the issues. "I would have rather had a serious debate between Paladino and Cuomo than seeing people disgrace politics," said Waltiere.

Rosanna Perotti, Chair of the Political Science Department, thought that the third party candidates contributed positively to the debate. "Although it was valuable to have the third party candidates there because they reflect the great diversity of New York State I think that the two main candidates ought to have their own debate."

Perotti felt that third-party candidate Davis did surprisingly well. "She was better informed and more passionate than I expected her to be," said Perotti, who listened to the entire debate on the radio.

Contrary to predictions, Paladino appeared calm throughout the debate, however, many felt his performance was not ideal. "There were questions in the middle of the debate when [Paladino] was confusing Medicaid and Medicare and he didn't know what he was talking about," said professor Sicoli.

Sicoli felt that having candidates in the debate made it difficult to follow. "With seven people you slip by and you could get away with saying stuff that's not factual," said Sicoli.

Melissa Connolly, the Vice President for University Affairs who helped organize the event, thought that the University accomplished its goals. "In terms of the production and student volunteers and the way that we managed to pull it together in nine days, we feel that that was a tremendous success," said Connolly. "We want to stay in the debate business.  We feel really strongly about that because we see how excited the students get about the opportunity to be there."

Professor Sicoli agreed that the debate would help the reputation of the University. "This is going to be something that is going to carry Hofstra a long way," said Sicoli. "This is really going to become part of the tradition and it gives Hofstra international recognition. Something like this is just a springboard into the first tier."

(Michaela Papa/The Chronicle)

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