Schlesinger Steals The Show

by Paul Bass | October 16, 2006 2:01 PM | | Comments (19)

 The ghost of Crazy Eddie was channeled Monday by a man who would be Connecticut’s next senator — and whose name is neither Lieberman nor Lamont.

This candidate’s name is Alan Schlesinger (pictured in top photo). He is the official candidate nominated by the Republican Party to replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate. He trails both Lieberman — who’s now running as a “Connecticut for Lieberman” candidate — and Democrat Ned Lamont by far in this fall’s Senate race; Republicans are overwhelmingly backing Lieberman instead. Schlesinger has been drowned out by all the attention on the other two candidates.

So Schlesinger came out swinging — literally, with his hands at times — when he finally got to debate his two opponents in a televised debate. He injected a new factor into the race. Lieberman sought to focus attention, and criticism, on Lamont, his closest rival. But Schlesinger pounced on them both throughout the debate, and sought to establish himself as the conservative alternative to two “liberal Democrats.”

He made his pitch to conservative and moderate voters on issues ranging such as flag-burning (only he supports a constitutional amendment against it). “Don’t listen to Joe’s rhetoric,” Schlesinger declared. “Watch his voting record.”

The 1-2 p.m. debate, the first of three scheduled over the next week in this home stretch of the too-close-to-call race, took place at the Stamford Marriott Hotel. It was sponsored by the Business Council of Fairfield County. Channels 12 and 30 carried the debate live.

Boisterous crowds greeted the candidates at the hotel’s entrance, as did the infamous Bush-Lieberman “Kiss” float.

Click on the start arrow below this photo to listen to the firefighters who massed in the driveway by the entrance on behalf of Lieberman.

Schlesinger arrived pumped, too. (Click on the start arrow of the picture at left to hear his remarks about his game plan as he walked into the ballroom before the debate.) During the debate he raised his voice, cracked up the audience with exhortations like, “Look out Ned and Joe, here I come baby!”

Lieberman (center) stood between Lamont and Schlesinger, and took hits from both sides during the debate, but most dramatically from the Republican.

Schlesinger set himself apart from both Lieberman and Lamont on issues like immigration. “Joe favors amnesty… Ned Lamont he actually wants to give them scholarships,” Schlesinger said. “Alan Schlesigner is the only one on this stage who has a tough policy. I want to build the walls. I want to make sure there is no road to residency. I am the son of a legal immigrant. There are people today who attempted to come here as legal immigrants and died. Now we’ve got people flooding into this nation for no other reason than they want a better life for themselves. … We have to secure the borders… “We have to use drones. ”

Similarly, while Lamont and Lieberman bickered about whether Lieberman is weak on preventing privatization of social security, Schlesinger called for investing some of the social security trust fund in home mortgages.

“Both of these gentlemen stand for social security and medicare bankruptcy,” Schlesinger said. “I call the United States Senate the ostrich club… It [social security] is the greatest iceberg this nation is facing. Social security is so underfunded they make the national debt look like a little walk in the park.”

“We can remain in the ostrich club” the way Lieberman has for 18 years, Schlesinger said. “You’d never get away with this at Enron, by the way…” Schlesinger’s voice rose as the crowd laughed

“Joe, this is why I ran against you. I got to be honest with you. In 2000 you got up there with Al Gore. You stood up and said we ought to put social security in a lockbox…

“You’re gonna put an IOU from Joe Lieberman in a lock box? I don’t want an IOU for Joe Lieberman, even if he’s a nice guy! I’d rather have cash.” Proposed investing social security trust fund in mortgages for Americans….”


Schlesinger’s emergence would work in Lamont’s favor. If he can rise to 15 percent of the vote from his current 4 percent standing in the polls, he’d probably swing the election to Lamont (pictured talking to reporters after the debate). Even if his performance Monday was a bit over the top to make him a serious contender to win the race, it still worked to Lamont’s benefit in two ways.

One way: It enabled Lamont to have someone else take the harshest shots at Lieberman while allowing Lamont to look more restrained and senatorial. For example, Lamont didn’t sound very different from Lieberman in answering a question on how to deal with North Korea. Here’s what Schlesinger roared, facing the 18-year incumbent senator: “Where has Joe Lieberman been over the past 18 years on this issue? Joe, you had more moral outrage over President Clinton’s indiscretions! … “I believe we can entice this madman [Kim Jong-il]. For 18 years we haven’t. What a coincidence! Joe you have to answer for this!”

A second way: Schlesinger’s performance presented Schlesinger as a sincerely conservative alternative to Republican voters who may have been leaning toward Lieberman but would prefer someone they consider a “true” Republican to pull the lever for.

That dynamic was clear in the closing statements. Lieberman continued to ignore Schleisnger and seek to put the focus on Lamont, attacking him for promoting partisan attack politics. And Lamont actually offered his Republican opponent encouragement. He spoke of how he, too, was once discounted by pundits, early in the Democratic primary camaign, then emerged victorious. “Don’t worry about what the insiders say. Don’t worry what the party brass say,” Lamont told Schlesigner. “Say your piece. Look people in the eye…” It almost sounded like wishful thinking.

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Posted by: strangerthanfiction | October 16, 2006 2:20 PM

I've always felt that Schlesinger would get at least 10 percent. He's the official Republican candidate, endorsed by George Gallo and the State Repub. Party. He's going to be on the top line in the voting booth right next to popular Jodi Rell. (Lieberman by contrast will be some five rows down on the ballot). He's the only alternative on the ballot to two Democrats. Plus he's right: Lieberman votes like a liberal Dem, but postures like a Bush Republican. He'll cost Joe the race.

Posted by: Lewis B | October 16, 2006 3:10 PM

The two choices in this race are between a moderate Democrat who opposes permanent war (Ned Lamont) and a conservative Republican who largely supports the current administration's approach (Alan Schlesinger).

Joe Lieberman will say anything, depending on which way he thinks the wind is blowing. I might support him, but I don't trust him as far as I could throw him. I hope enough other CT voters see or read about this debate, because it puts things in focus quite well.

Posted by: John P. | October 16, 2006 3:34 PM

I was very impressed by Schlesinger! He's worth a vote, because at least you know where he stands in regard to Social Security, immigration, and foreign policy. Lieberman will say absolutely anything to hold onto power. His own party doesn't believe in him anymore...he's all sizzle and no steak. Just look at his Social Security stance...he caved in and voted with the Democrats, but only when it he was 100% sure he'd be on the winning side of the vote.

If Connecticut Republicans think they're doing themselves a favor by voting for Lieberman, they should think again. There's only one Democrat and one Republican in this race. The other guy is just trying to keep his job by flip-flopping and pandering to both sides without saying anything of actual substance. Completely shameless.

Posted by: Brendan | October 16, 2006 3:36 PM

I'm a New York resident who's rooting for Lamont. As much as I'd like to believe that Schlesinger's presence will swipe some moderate Republicans and Democrats away from Lieberman, I believe Schlesinger's performance this afternoon is far more likely to bring out Connecticut conservatives who otherwise would have sat this one out.

The drift of moderates to Lieberman could indeed hand Lamont the election, but Schlesinger's energizing show today might spell doom for some of the Democratic congressional challengers in the Nutmeg state.

Posted by: cedarford | October 16, 2006 3:50 PM

Schlesinger was refreshing. He did himself some good in that debate.

As for the Left that keeps repeating the mantra that this election has nothing to do with the issues Connecticut voters are concerned with...except Iraq, Iraq, Iraq! Well, CT voters understand that whoever is elected will have 6 years to represent us or fail to represent us on hundreds of matters. Schlesinger deftly put that out to the media that there are a host of critical matters being ignored in their "Lieberman-Lamont, It's All About Iraq!!" construct. A media which has also gotten into single issue obsession - as if a Senator is going to make a difference in the midst of war before Bush leaves office 2 years from now - and ignored other matters CT voters hold important.

Schlesinger reminded them. He won't win, but he made his case that there is far more involved in this election and what faces CT than two liberals arguing "woulda shoulda".

Posted by: Brian Schwartz | October 16, 2006 3:52 PM

This debate did make the choices very clear. Mr. Schlesinger, while rather primitive and bombastic on the issue of immigration and rather irrelevant and silly on the anti-flag burning Constitutional Amendment, made excellent points, espeially at the expense of the perpetually narcissistic Senator Lieberman ( he could at least have named his party of one "Lieberman for Connecticut" instead of Connecticut for Lieberman). Ned Lamont was the only one of the three who we could confidently expect to vote for new leadership should the Senate shift to the Democrats. Lieberman, along with other spineless Democrats like Senators Landrieu, both Nelsons, Lincoln, Pryor, etc. have helped provide a fig leaf for the radical right wing agenda of Bush and his rubber stamps in the Senate and House.

Posted by: TrueBlueCT | October 16, 2006 4:09 PM

Throughout the debate, Lieberman whined about being attacked by Lamont. What he left out was his own very negative campaigning. Whaddya say Joe, will you pull your negative ads? Or are you like the world's biggest hypocrite?

Posted by: dpwiener [TypeKey Profile Page] | October 16, 2006 4:11 PM

Voters are actually quite politically savvy in high-profile races. I'm from California, and the results from the 2003 special recall election for governor are instructive. There were 135 candidates on the ballot to replace Gray Davis, including many very-high profile Democrats and Republicans. Attempts by both parties to clear the field ahead of time were unsuccessful, and there were fears that all the big names would split up the vote with each garnering at least several percent even if they "dropped out".

But in the end the voters concentrated on the big three (Schwarzenegger, Bustamante, and McClintock) who remained in active contention, and pretty much ignored the rest. The same thing will happen in Connecticut.

If the last polls taken before the election show Lieberman with a safe lead of 10% to 15%, then some conservative Republicans will go ahead and cast their votes for Schlesinger. And that could boost his total into the 10% to 12% range. But if the polls show any uncertainty over the outcome (e.g., at least one poll shows Lamont closing to within 5% to 8%) then almost all Republicans will vote for Lieberman and Schlesinger will be left with 5%.

Posted by: cwebs | October 16, 2006 5:27 PM

Crazy Eddie is dead?

Posted by: skippy [TypeKey Profile Page] | October 16, 2006 7:09 PM

i also would like to see schlesinger take votes away from joe-nertia, but i also doubt that it could be an election-deciding event.

what i wish would happen would be that the republican party leadership would actuall stand behind its candidate instead of being so trasnparently opportunistic.

it merely reflects on the prevailing attitude of the current administration that the gaining and holding of power is job one (and, often times, the only frackin' job they are concerned about).

i would have less problems with bush and his ilk (which is a word derived from "ill" and "puke") if they were worried about actually governing the country less than keeping their cushy graft-paying positions.

i have no problems w/republicans that actually want to govern for the good of the country, whatever they might envision that to be. it's people who want power for power's sake that scare me.

Posted by: Chris the Gaffer | October 16, 2006 9:06 PM

DPWEINER: Voters are more intelligent than given credit for , but they aren't really interested in poltical manipulations at the Rove level. If Schlesinger felt credible to the wingnuts, I'm sure he'll get more of the vote than he might otherwise. Look at the situation with Linc Chafee -- the wingnuts almost knocked him out in the primary -- which would have been a guaranteed GOP loss for that seat in the general. (As it turns out, they'll probably lose the seat anyway, but that wasn't known at the time.)

The California situation was fundamentally different: you had dozens of candidates running. But it was clear who the frontrunners were. (I mean, did you really have high hopes for Gary Coleman or the porn starlet, or A, B, and C with no or little poltical experience?)

Posted by: Liam Brent Kelly | October 16, 2006 9:09 PM

The moral highground was surrendered DAY ONE- It's called a department of DEFENSE for a reason: Their are so many stories everyone refuses to publish but the one that can no longer legitimately be witheld IS ON TROOP STRENGTH AND WAR PROFITEERING- Just like ABU GRAIHAB(spelling?) these abuses arise due to the lack of troops/ planning/ duress/ and inability of the troops and resources to do the job or even to understand what IS A SUCCESSFUL JOB! ALL IS RELATED PLEASE READ ON- During augustus bushie II news conference this week over nuclear weapons proliferation- augustus the war profiteering anarchist stated that he had an OPEN-DOOR policy and that if Generals want something he listens and gives it to them- yet the first actions leading up to the WAR were to censure these Generals and advisors if not fire them- Gen Shinsheki/ Civilian White/ Gen Von Riper- Millenium Challenge/ Gen Zinni- attempt for phase four planning at LeJeune/ Rumsfelds threat that the next person who talked about post war would be fired. This makes sense only if you understand that this war is not to get rid of Osama and his cells. It is to make Haliburton/ Blackwater ect. rich. That is why everything is going to hell- Privatization of the war effort through private contractors beholden to no-one and the lack of resources and troops to do the job- including the lack of definition of that job and of course the debate over the basic policy most foreign in the first place that never took place. You cannot solve political problems with military might, (or with the 'manageable chaos' doctrine of kissinger), and all these 'leaders' are doing is scrambling for economic and political cornbread in the maelstorm of World Wide Waco. Thanks for the opprotunity to express these views under the 1st ammendment to the constitution of these United States of America- read expression of these ideas does not represent terrorism- I'm pretty sure- however with all the new laws doing away with our real freedom and liberty who knows? Free America from dictatorial powers/ Help re-construction in America/ Help America create democracy- it's possible if we really work on it! Liam Brent Kelly

Posted by: A Mike | October 16, 2006 10:09 PM

Ned Lamont is hardly a moderate Democrat. He would surely side with the far left of the Democratic Party. If you look at who his supporters are you can see this. The state and the country will be far better off with Liberman.

Posted by: Needham | October 17, 2006 1:37 AM

Lamont listened to Beltway consultants and is running a timid compaign. I doubt you can win against people like Lieberman who have absolutely no principals and who will do any thing and say anything to cling to power. Liebermann will not win but it is Lamont who will loose by his timid compaign.

Posted by: Ian | October 17, 2006 10:06 AM

This article is actually factually incorrect. You write "That dynamic was clear in the closing statements. Lieberman continued to ignore Schleisnger and seek to putt he focus on Lamont, attacking him for promoting partisan attack politics. And Lamont actually offered his Republican opponent encouragement. He spoke of how he, too, was once discounted by pundits, early in the Democratic primary camaign, then emerged victorious"

Ned Lamont encouraged Alan Schlesinger in the latter part of the debate but not in the closing statements and Joe Lieberman while trying to ignore Alan Schlesinger did refer to both oponents in the closing statement.

Posted by: Ian | October 17, 2006 10:13 AM

The fact is Joe Lieberman still won the debate. He looked and sounded the most Senatorial of the candidates and was able to effectively defend his positions. Ned Lamont was able to offer critiques of the status quo but was not able to offer any solutions and made no real case why he deserved to be elected.

As Senator Lieberman pointed out, Lamont started his business with "scraps" that most people would love to have.

For those of you thinking of supporting Alan Schlesinger, I have one word, "DON'T". I, too, am a Republican who is uncomfortable with some of Senator Lieberman's positions but there are a number of reasons not to vote for Schlesinger: (1) He can't win and any votes for him help Lamont and hurt Republicans in the Senate (2) Some of his positions are just weird (his answer on North Korea made less and less sense as it went on as did his social security answer), and (3) If Lieberman is reelected, he will be much more independent this time around. He is nothing if not loyal and he knows who supported him and who didn't.

Posted by: Alfred J Bildungsroman | October 17, 2006 11:41 AM

Schlessie is more hilarious than Carrot Top!

Posted by: Veronica | October 17, 2006 12:43 PM

Once again Lieberman shows he is going which ever way the political winds blow. I'm glad Schlesinger came out strong - although I am a Democrat, I've gotta admire him for his conduct and professionalism during yesterday's debate. Lamont appears to be more comfortable in the political world - he appeared more "senatorial" which gives me a better feeling about him ... well, I know who I'm voting for!

Posted by: Realist | October 17, 2006 3:36 PM

If Lieberman is reelected, he will be much more independent this time around. He is nothing if not loyal

Yeah, just look at how loyal he's been to the Democrats.

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