October 24, 2018 In The News, Media

BRADENTON HERALD: Congressional candidates Buchanan, Shapiro trade jabs in first and only debate

With just one shot to knock his opponent on live television, David Shapiro delivered a jab as soon as he could Tuesday evening.

In his first and only debate with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, the Democrat used his opening statement to attack the incumbent congressman’s voting record.

“From his record, it appears he doesn’t really care about the welfare of working families or people with pre-existing conditions,” said Shapiro. “He doesn’t care about seniors who are struggling or are trying to get by on Medicare or Social Security, and he really doesn’t care about the environment.”

Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, didn’t waste his opportunity to respond to what he called an attack on his integrity.

“He should be ashamed of himself attacking me. I’m not (in Washington D.C.) to feather my bed or anything like that,” said Buchanan. “I’m there to make a difference.”

Despite the quick back-and-forth, the debate, hosted by ABC7 MySuncoast remained mostly civil, as each candidate answered the moderator’s questions in 60-second responses.

In the span of an hour, Alan Cohn quizzed the candidates for Florida’s 16th Congressional District on a wide array of subjects, including whether they’d vote to impeach President Donald Trump and what they propose to do in order to bring down gas prices.

Those are two of the only areas the candidates agreed. Both said they’d like to see more development of renewable energy resources and that they are willing to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to play out before they move to remove the president from office.

A huge point of contention between Shapiro and Buchanan was the implementation of tax cuts that Shapiro says are driving up the national debt without any benefit to working families. Buchanan countered that he’s already seen the tax reform make real differences.

“We’ve got one of the best economies I’ve seen in 40 or 50 years,” Buchanan said. “I think (tax reform) and deregulation are why we’re exploding and getting everybody back to work today.”

That’s not the case in Shapiro’s experience.

“That is the issue with the tax law,” Shapiro. “It’s very beneficial to the people who are leaders more than the working families who are not getting the tax benefits or the breaks that are allowing them to live a life.”

The candidates also showcased their differences at the mention of more recent news. Cohn questioned them about immigration policy in light of the migrant caravan said to be moving through Mexico heading for the United States’ southern border.

“These are families that are trying to get in. Is this the way to go?”Shapiro asked, questioning the president’s choice of words to describe the migrants. “To make people afraid – call them terrorists and murderers? Or do we want to just vet them and make sure the right people are coming in?”

Buchanan suggested that there has to be a limit on who is allowed to enter the country, claiming that 7,000 could easily become 700,000 if the U.S. doesn’t implement a cutoff.

Tuesday’s debate is the only time the two candidates will go head-to-head before Election Day on Nov. 6. Early voting in Manatee starts Wednesday.

The 16th Congressional District is comprised of all of Manatee County and parts of northern Sarasota and southern Hillsborough counties.