Senator Ben Cardin Endorses Joe Sestak

As part of the Sestak Senate campaign’s continuing Jewish outreach efforts, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be visiting Philadelphia tomorrow (Tuesday, October 19) to campaign for Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA 7).

At 11:15 am, Sen. Cardin will lead a press conference at the corner of 5th and Market (diagonally across from the National Museum of American Jewish History) to discuss Joe Sestak’s long history of support for Israel and Jewish issues, first as an Admiral in the U.S. Navy and now as a Congressman.

Senator Cardin will also be addressing the lunch-time crowd at the Stiffel JCC in South Philly later in the day.

This event follows on the heels of key endorsements in Philadelphia last week by President Barrack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Bob Casey.

GOP Candidates In Their Own Words

Race Republican Photo Quote Contenders
US Senate
Nevada
Sharron Angel,
State Legislator (Washoe County-26)
  • “People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.” [Link]
Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
US Senate
South Carolina
Jim Demint, Incumbent Senator
  • “If a person is a practicing homosexual, they should not be teaching in our schools.” [Link]
  • “I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend, should be hired to teach my third grade children.”
    [Link]
Alvin Greene, political unknown
US Senate
Delaware
Christine O’Donnell, marketing consultant
  • “American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.” [Link]
  • “Lust in your heart is committing adultery so you can’t masturbate without lust.” [Link]
Chris Coons, New Castle County Executive
US Senate
Pennsylvania
Pat Toomey, Former Congressman (PA-15)
  • “Let’s not tax corporations…. I think the solution is to eliminate corporate taxes altogether.” [Link]
  • “There has been an increase in the surface temperature of the planet over the course of the last 100 years or so. I think it’s clear that that has happened. The extent to which that has been caused by human activity I think is not as clear. I think that is still very much disputed and has been debated.” [Link]
Joe Sestak, retired Admiral and Congressman (PA-7)
US Senate
Kentucky
Rand Paul, opthamologist and son of Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14)
  • “Decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered. As a consequence, some associations will discriminate…. A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin.” Link]
Jack Conway, Secretary of State
US Senate
Connecticut
Linda McMahon,
co-founder of World Wrestling Entertainment
  • “So I still don’t think we know the long-term effects of steroids. They are continuing to study it more and more, but I don’t believe there are a lot of studies out there today that are conclusive.” [Link]
Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General
US Senate
Louisiana
David Vitter, incumbent Senator
  • “I personally don’t have standing to bring litigation in court. But I support conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court. I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it.” [On birther investigations] [Link]
Charlie Melançon, Congressman LA-3
US Senate
Alaska
Joe Miller Scott McAdams, lawyer; and Lisa Murkowski, incumbent Senator
US Senate
Colorado
Ken Buck, Weld County District Attorney
  • “You are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one, but an extremely rare occurrence.” [Defending his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape and incest] [Link]
Michael Bennet, incumbent Senator, and Tom Tancredo, former Congressman (CO-6)
US Senate
Oklahoma
Tom Coburn
  • “Lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that’s happened to us?” [Link]
Jim Rogers, teacher
US Senate
Alabama
Richard Shelby
  • “Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate.” [Link]
William Barnes, lawyer
House of Representatives
Delaware (At-Large)
Glen Urquhart,
real estate financer
  • “Do you know, where does this phrase ‘separation of church and state’ come from? It was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists…. The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from. So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.” [Link]
John Carney, Lt. Governor

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Specter Endorses Sestak

Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak debated at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit before the Democratic primary.
Endorsement key to Jews and moderates in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey will be joining New York Senator Chuck Schumer in support of Rep. Joe Sestak who is running for Senate against Rep. Pat Toomey. The Senators will appear with Sestak at a reception in downtown Philadelphia Monday, October 11, 2010. Contact the Sestak campaign for more information.

Jewish Senators Schumer and Specter will tout Sestak’s strong support of Israel including a perfect voting record according to AIPAC during his two terms in Congress, and helping improve Israel’s defense systems during his career in the United States Navy. They will address the attack ads aired by the Republican Jewish Coalition. Sestak created and led the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit, yet these ads attempt to paint Sestak as supportive of Hamas and other terrorist organizations. The RJC criticizes Sestak for appearing before the Council on American Islamic Relations even though he called on members of CAIR to “condemn not just terrorism but also the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

After joining the Democratic party to avoid a tough Republican primary against Pat Toomey, Senator Arlen Specter was defeated in a contentious primary against Joe Sestak. Now, in his first major appearance with Sestak since the primary, Specter will put old rivalries aside and speak out to endorse Joe Sestak to fill his seat in the United States Senate.

Clinton Stumps For Sestak at JCC


— Bonnie Squires

President Bill Clinton stumped for his friend Joe Sestak, running for U.S. Senate, at the Golden Slipper Center for Seniors at the Kaiserman JCC (Jewish Community Center) in Wynnewood, his first stop of a very busy day.  Clinton praised Sestak for having an economic policy plan which fit with Clinton’s philosophy and success.

The appearance at the Jewish community center was a last-minute addition to Clinton’s whirlwind Philadelphia schedule as he came to town to honor former British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the Liberty Medal Monday evening.  But Clinton, who had campaigned for Sestak when the Congressman first ran for office five years ago , seemed genuinely delighted to speak to an adoring Jewish crowd on behalf of his former military advisor.

Clinton told the audience that each year the Pentagon picks the brightest member of the military to send to the White House as military advisor to the President, and they had selected Joe Sestak to send to him.  


Sestak’s words to the JCC audience reminded us of Senator Arlen Specter’s appearance there, years ago, when Lynn Yeakel was the Democratic contender for U.S. Senate.  Specter won that close race.  Perhaps Sestak had that in mind as he continued his wooing of the Jewish community.  And Clinton proved once again that he is a huge magnet, even with only a few hours’ notice.

Clinton gave a detailed analysis of the current economic situation in the country, pointing out the success of his philosophy when his administration turned around a huge deficit and left office with a huge surplus.  He credited Sestak with having a detailed plan and vision for creating jobs in three areas which are vital: small business, manufacturing, and the green economy.  

(photo credit: Bonnie Squires)

Hands Off Social Security

Advisory for: September 2, 2010

Contact: Beverly Hahn 610-275-7665  

Rep. Joe Sestak and Dr. Manan Trivedi Get “A” on Report Cards during Hands Off Social Security! Presentation

Promise to Oppose Benefit Cuts and Privatization Wins Grade from Local members of Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, Credo Action, Campaign for America’s Future, PennACTION, United Food and Commercial Workers – Local 1776, and SEIU; Pat Toomey and Rep. Gerlach Don’t Earn High Grades
On Thursday, September 2, 2010, local members of Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, and PennACTION are holding a Hands Off Social Security presentation in which they will deliver Social Security report cards to the U.S. Senatorial candidates in PA and the U.S. Congressional candidates in PA-6.  Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak earned an “A” for opposing benefit cuts and privatization while his opponent Pat Toomey received an “F” for wanting to privatize Social Security.  Dr. Manan Trivedi also earned an “A” for opposing benefit cuts and privatization while his opponent Rep. Jim Gerlach received an “Incomplete” for showing a lack of advocacy on this important issue.

Speakers at the press conference are:
Beverly Hahn, local member of Democracy for America
Linda Noble Topf, a counselor and author living with multiple sclerosis
Richard Pasquier, an assistant general counsel to a Fortune 500 company
John Meyerson, Political and Legislative Director, United Food and Commercial Workers #1776

Congress could vote on the future of Social Security this fall.  Voters across the country are asking candidates and members of Congress to support a promise to oppose plans which would undermine Social Security which says:

“Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it. Social Security is a promise that must not be broken. If you pay in, then you earn the right to benefits for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children when you retire, experience a severe disability, or die. We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. That is why I oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including increasing the retirement age. I also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.”

New polling shows massive public support for elected leaders who want to defend Social Security and are opposed to measures which would diminish it.

“We’re here today to recognize Rep. Joe Sestak and Dr. Manan Trivedi for wanting to fight to preserve Social Security and let them know that they will receive an “A” from voters this fall. Unfortunately, we are giving Pat Toomey and Rep. Jim Gerlach poor grades for refusing to promise to protect Social Security,” said Beverly Hahn. “Almost 20% of Pennsylvanians rely on Social Security including the elderly, disabled, and children.  Weakening it is nothing short of morally bankrupt.  Social Security has a substantial surplus, and anyone who suggests otherwise is misinformed or distorting the facts.  Voters can choose this November to send to Washington those who are strongly committed to keeping Social Society safe or those who have either shown limp support or have pushed to dismantle it.”

Sestak Tells Jewish Leaders Of His Passion For Israel

The event in a private home was very heimesche with live Klezmer music by hostess Irene Glickman on the piano and Ken Ulansey and Stan Slotter on the clarinet playing as community leaders awaited Sestak’s discussion of foreign and domestic issues. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Joe Sestak (D PA-7) met with Jewish Community leaders recently in Center City Philadelphia, York and Lower Merion recently to discuss a range of issues, including his passionate and longstanding support for the State of Israel.

Sestak is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania. Supporters of his opponent, Pat Toomey, along with Tea Party activists, neo-conservatives and other elements of the far right, have attempted to paint him as anti-Israel. This outreach effort by Sestak was designed to respond directly to those attempts.

Sestak was invited to appear in Lower Merion by the Orthodox Union, an organization best known for its kashrut supervision and youth movement, but which also provides forums where candidates speak on issues of importance to the Orthodox Jewish Community. The forum was held in the home of Joel and Irene Glickman.

Morrie Litwack, Deputy Director of Orthodox Union; Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA-7); and Howie Beigelman, Deputy Director of Orthodox Union. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Sestak was introduced by State Senator Daylin Leach, who had just returned from his own trip to Israel. He told the crowd that after donning tefilin at the Western Wall, Israel was the most important issue to him, and he would never support a candidate without being confident of that candidate’s strong support for Israel. He praised Sestak’s support for Israel through his votes and advocacy in Congress, and through his actions in defense of Israel on six different occasions during his 31-year Naval career.

Sestak spoke passionately of his experience. He spent Hannukah with Israel’s Chief of Naval Operations when Israel was being denied American-made littoral combat ships. Sestak successively lobbied Washington to give Israel this important defense system. Sestak oversaw the first joint military maneuvers between Israel and an Arab nation (Turkey).

The first vacation he was given from the Navy was a two-week leave which he spent in Israel. He still cherishes the “Never Again Masada” t-shirt he acquired at that occasion.

In 2003, Sestak commanded a carrier battle group in the Mediterranean Sea. When war with Iraq broke out, Sestak stationed one of his Aegis cruisers off the coast of Israel and integrated its radar system into Israel’s air defense system before moving the rest of his fleet to the Gulf.

Sestak also took credit for switching plans for a U.S. and European missle defense system based in Poland and the Ukraine to one based on Aegis cruisers. The Aegis system is cheaper, will be online by 2011, and would be able to protect Isreal whereas the land-based system would not be able to protect Israel and would not be functional at all until 2017.

Tom Wiener, Joe Sestak, Felice Wiener, and host Irene Glickman at the meeting with Senate candidate Sestak convened by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Sestak then took questions from the all of the participants. One participant questioned Sestak’s voting record. Sestak replied that he has a 100% pro-Israel voting record, whereas his opponent Pat Toomey voted against funding for Israel on seven different occasions and refused to sign a Congressional letter calling for the PLO to be defunded if they did not implement the Oslo Accords.

Sestak was incensed by political attacks claiming that he was “raising funds for terrorism” when he spoke at CAIR in 2007. Sestak was the head of the Navy’s anti-Terrorism unit after 9/11, and some of his friends were killed when the Pentagon was attacked. Indeed, the message he delivered to CAIR was that “it is our just duty to condemn not just terrorism but also the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice asked when he thought Iran would get a nuclear weapon and what the United States and Israel should do about it. Sestak said that he has been well briefed on this subject through his career in the military, and his position on the Armed Services Committee, and he believed that Iran was still a couple of years away from a nuclear weapon.

Sestak was adamant that a nuclear armed Iran was unacceptable. Not only would it pose an existential threat to Israel, but it would be in a position to blackmail all of the countries in the region. Saudia Arabia would want a weapon of its own leading to a regional nuclear arms race.

Sestak said “the military option should remain on the table, but on the far side of the table.” He was skeptical of our ability to eliminate weapon systems buried deep underground. Perhaps we would only be able to close the doors to the bunker for a while merely delaying the deployment of Iran’s nuclear missles. He criticized former President George W. Bush who left all the diplomatic work in the hands of the European Union, saying that our enemies do not take overtures seriously if the United States is not fully on-board.

Sestak sees himself as a leader in the spirit of Sam Nunn (D-GA). “It is pretty easy to send kids into harm’s way when you have no experience with war. My experience comes from 31 years in the military.” Rising to the rank of 3-star Admiral, Sestak is the highest ranking military officer in Congress.

Through his career he visited over eighty countries and found America was “respected for our power, and admired for our principles”. He is a firm believer in Engagement, saying that “we accomplish nothing by not talking to our enemies”. As proof that he does not only speak with people he agrees with, he mentioned that he would soon be appearing for the eighth time on Fox News with Sean Hannity.  

An Open Letter to the Jewish Community


— David Broida

In the race for the U.S. Senate, there is only one true friend of Israel – Joe Sestak.

Here is what Joe Sestak had to say when addressing a Pennsylvania Islamic organization:

“It is my, and your, just duty to condemn not just terrorism – as you have done – but also to condemn the specific acts, and specific individuals and groups by name, associated with those acts, such as Hamas and Hezbollah…Otherwise, our language against terrorism remains that of silence…If there are ties to those of terror, or statements that impugn others by hate, there is an obligation to actively denounce them, against whomever they occur, including (against) Israel.”

    “My last visit (to Israel) was to tie one of my U.S. Navy air defense Aegis cruisers into the missile defense network of Israel, leaving the ship stationed off its coast for the nation’s protection.”

— U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, in remarks to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA), Philadelphia, PA, April 27, 2010

Joe Sestak is courageous and proud of his support of Israel’s security.   Yet, some falsely claim that U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak is not a friend of Israel.  Ironically, these same people support his opponent, who voted repeatedly against giving essential aid to Israel.  These same people rush to use Israel as a political wedge issue when, in fact, U.S. support for Israel always has been bipartisan.

Joe’s opponent, Pat Toomey, as a U.S. Congressman, voted seven times against a total of nearly $15 billion in military and other aid to Israel.* Joe Sestak has voted yes on every vote authorizing aid to Israel.

We’re outraged by Toomey’s attacks on Sestak’s support for Israel.  While serving in the US Navy as an Admiral, Joe Sestak commanded a fleet of US ships in the Mediterranean, designed to protect Israel and reinforce her defenses.  The only thing Toomey has ever commanded is the “Club for Growth”, the right-wing group whose sole aim is to lower taxes on the wealthy and shrink government, which threatens our ability to have a strong national defense and come to the aid of our allies and friends.

Don’t be fooled.   In this race for the U.S. Senate, there is one true friend of Israel.  We’re proud to say that we’re voting for U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak for United States Senator.

For more information, go to www.joesestak.com/Israel.htm or call 610-891-8956.

References and list of co-signers follow the jump.

 
Photo: Congressman Joe Sestak and Israel Chief of Naval Operations Eli Marom.

Footnote: Pat Toomey  voted:

  • against a foreign aid bill that included $1.82 billion for the implementation of the Wye River peace accords, passed by the U.S. House on 11/5/99, House Vote #572;
  • against  $2.82 billion in aid to Israel in a foreign aid appropriations bill on 10/25/00, House Vote 546;
  • against a bill providing $2.76 billion for Israel on 7/24/01, House Vote 266 and on 12/19/01, House Vote 505;
  • against a foreign operations bill that included $2.2 billion for Israeli military assistance on 7/24/03, House Vote 429;
  • against a consolidated appropriations bill that included more than $2.7 billion for Israel on 2/13/03, House Vote 32; and
  • against $2.53 billion for Israel, including $50 million to help resettle Jewish refugees from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union, on 7/15/04, House Vote 390.

Cosigners:
Jill and Howard Zipin
Susan Rubin
David Wolfson
Seymour Lackier
Alan Lindy
Rabbi Peter Hyman
Eva Ray
Nina and Michael Rosenthal
Joel Sweet
Meg & Michael Sheketoff
Jill & Edward Caine
Felice & Tom Wiener
Sue & Hal Rosenthal
Ruth Damsker
Pat & David Broida
Barbara & Burt Siegel
Robert A. Rovner
Steven L. Rovner
Hanna Monblatt
Dr. Marty & Linda  Millison
Jill Ross Stein
Edna & Ken Adelberg
Dr. Leonard L. Ross
Lynn G. Zeitlin
Ken Weinstein
Irl Barg & Janaet Walkow
Jane & Ernest Delheim
Margot & Ellis Horwitz
Ronnie & Ted Mann
Jerome Kaplan
Irwin W. Aronson
Nina & Michael Rosenthal
Susan B. Bolno
Stephanie & Michael Naidoff
Jay Minkoff
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer & Seth F. Kreimer
Natalie & Steven Sondheimer
David Dormont & Johanna Berger
Linda & Elkan Katz
Julie & Brian A. Gordon
Rabbi David & Betsy Teutsch
Sheila & Dan Segal
Mark Taylor & Irene Wasserman
Marciene & Herman Mattleman
David & Jo Baskin
State Rep. Mark Cohen
State Rep. Paul Drucker
David Hyman
Amy & Kenny Holdsman
Joel D. Beaver
Carol Shore
Helen & Dan Loeb
David Landau
Miriam & Arthur Spector
Leslie & Ira Richards
Marcia Hole & Arnold Levinson
Linda & Jake Kriger
Ellen & Ed Goss
Benjamin Zuckerman
Lori Schreiber
Susan Rubin
Esther Lipson Sobel & Bernard S. Sobel
Cece & Fred Citron
Linda Weiner Seligson
Jules J. Mermelstein
Ruth Estrich & Sam Zolton
Lynn Isar & Rabbi Mordechai Liebling
Bonnie S. Squires
Harvey Glickman
Jeffrey Rudnick
Stephanie & William Epstein
Gilda Kramer & Sam Adenbaum
Dr. Walter & Ethel Hoffman
Cheryl Gelber
Jeanne & Bill Leopold
Allison Wiener
Marjorie M. Berlinghof
Bernice Catherine Schwartz
Jay Segal

Mayor Bloomberg Endorses Sestak

Three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg came to Philadelphia’s Sullivan Progress Plaza to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak (D PA-7) in his Senate race against Former Congressman Pat Toomey (R PA-15).

Bloomberg touted the management experience Sestak gained as a three star Admiral. Bloomberg, who himself has campaigned as a Democrat, Republican and Independent, praised Sestak’s ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle. “On the key issues we face, it is not partisanship that counts. It is leadership.” Sestak served as President Clinton’s Director for Defense Policy, and under the Bush administration, just after 9/11, he was selected as the first director of “Deep Blue,” the Navy’s anti-terrorism unit.

Bloomberg drew a parallel between the challenges facing New York City, Philadelphia and many communities across America: driving crime down, supporting community development or supporting small businesses create jobs. Bloomberg said addressing these problems requires strong leadership and said he was “here to ensure that Pennsylvania gets that kind of leadership.”

Bloomberg praised Sestak for his small business initiatives, supporting the heroes of 9/11, and supporting policies which will keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

The Republican Jewish Coalition and other groups have launched a campaign of attack ads against Sestak; however, Bloomberg dismissed such criticism, since Sestak had fought in the Navy to defend Israel, Bloomberg felt that Sestak understood terrorism and the threats against Israel and the United States.

Did you know you can filibuster the House of Representatives too?

At least that is what former Congressman Pat Toomey thinks.

Here is what he said on CNN’s John King USA:

I opposed many of our spending bills. I personally led a filibuster on the House floor against my own party because I thought they were intending to bust the budget and spend too much money. So the record is very clear I have stood up to my party when I thought they were wrong.  

In reality, filibusters have been forbidden in the House of Representatives since 1842.

Watch the video, where Toomey claims he led a filibuster at the 5:30 mark:

Pat Toomey represented Pennsylvania’s 15th district (Allentown, Bethlehem, Northampton, Easton) from 1999 to 2005. In 2004, he challenged Specter for the Republican Senate nomination and lost. This year, Toomey is the Republican candidate for Senate and is running against Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA 7).  

In Their Own Words: An interview with Congressman Joe Sestak

U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak (D) represents Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Delaware County, southwestern Montgomery County and eastern Chester County. In May of this year, Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in the U.S. Senate primary and will
face former congressman Pat Toomey (R PA-15) this November in the general election. The following are
excerpts from an interview by Charlie Smolover with Rep. Sestak held on July 19, 2009.

PJV: You’ve been criticized in ads recently about your position on Israel and Gaza, and about a talk you gave to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American Pennsylvania Islamic Relations in 2007. What is your response?

I have had the honor of visiting Israel many times. I’ve toured the country. Israel is a vital ally of the United States and when I was in the navy I would have gladly laid down my own life to
defend her. That’s how important she is to the security of our own country. When my carrier
battle group was ordered to the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean, I left behind an Aegis
cruiser tied into Israel’s missile defense system to help defend her. When Israel was being
denied our new littoral combat ships, I met with Israel’s ambassador and her chief of naval
operations and then worked to get her those ships. When the Defense Department wanted to
cancel Israel’s Arrow missile defense system, I was able to delay that long enough to prove that
Israel’s missile was superior to what the U.S. was recommending. I still have my Never Again
Masada shirt that I got in Israel, and no candidate is more committed to her survival than I am.

As far as Gaza is concerned, I made a point of asserting that it is Hamas, not Israel, that is
oppressing the people of Gaza. But I did recommend that Israel ease its blockade of Gaza.
I
didn’t think it was helping make Israel more secure and it appears the Netanyahu government has
reached the same conclusion.

This issue with the CAIR speech is indicative, unfortunately, of how low the political debate as
become. I appeared at their dinner with other politicians, including Governor Rendell (D PA) and State
Senator Andy Dinniman (D-West Chester), both firm supporters of Israel. But before I agreed to speak, I consulted
a mentor of mine, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) for his advice. He gave me a copy of the
speech Elie Wiesel made to President Reagan in 1985 when Reagan agreed to visit the German
military cemetery at Bitburg. Wiesel did not mince words. He spoke truth to power and told
Reagan it was wrong to lay a wreath at that cemetery where SS troops were buried. I used that
speech as a model for my own speech to CAIR. And I told CAIR that if they had any hope of
improving relations between America and the Muslim world, they must clearly condemn, by
name, those Muslim organizations engaged in terror. That was my message to CAIR and I am
glad I had the opportunity to make it.

PJV:
Democratic Party power brokers both nationally and in Pennsylvania appeared certain they
had all their ducks in row with respect to supporting Arlen Specter in the primary, yet your
victory over Specter was decisive. What does that say about the leadership of the party,
especially here in Pennsylvania?

What it says is that they were not listening. When I toured Pennsylvania during the campaign,
I could tell people were concerned, even scared. They were being devastated by the recession
and were also unclear about how healthcare reform was going to benefit them. They had no
idea what government meant any longer, what its role could be in their life. Public officials not
only failed to listen, they failed to explain how the stimulus bill and healthcare reform could
benefit them. They were too caught up in their own political calculations. Look, Pennsylvanians
have a lot of common sense. They can tell when something is broken and they want it fixed.
No politician should have been surprised at those town halls where people could barely contain
their frustration. They wanted to hear clear, pragmatic information about how we can move our
country forward. And that is the message I stuck to throughout the campaign, talking in pragmatic
terms about what was broken and how it could be fixed.

PJV:
Many political observers cited one particular TV spot, the one showing Specter taking
about wanting to keep his job, as instrumental to your victory.

It was not a decisive as some would like to believe. I was closing the polling gap between us
before that ad ran. It was actually an earlier ad, a biographical ad designed to introduce me to
voters, that started the trend. A poll taken right after the Specter ad ran showed us in a statistical
dead heat. We continued to build on that trend, making appearances everywhere we could,
making 14,000 calls a day. It’s that kind of hard work that really wins campaigns.

PJV:
If most of the money made available to banks through the TARP program has been
paid back, and if most economists are right in saying the law helped prevent a complete
breakdown of our financial system, why are so many politicians running for office loathe to
even mention it, let alone defend it?

I’m not backing away from my support of that legislation. I would do it again if necessary. I didn’t
vote for it because it was liberal or conservative. I vote for it because it was needed. You have
to remember that no one was lending any money. The LIBOR rate shot up seven percent. We
were facing an economic meltdown. Again, it’s about responding pragmatically to the state of our
economy and doing what we need to do to fix it.

PJV:
Your opponent in November, Pat Toomey, is likely to accuse you of supporting “bank
bailouts.” How will you respond?

Pat Toomey left Wall Street, where he made a fortune, for Capitol Hill. There he wrote the
legislation to repeal Glass-Steagall Act and voted for other legislation that effectively removed
the rules governing Wall Street. So after helping to triple our national debt he leaves Congress
to lead the Club For Growth, which continues to fight against the kind of regulations we need to
reign in Wall Street excesses, leaving us to caulk the leaks to keep our economy from sinking.
Having torpedoed our economy, Congressman Toomey has no right to criticize those who tried
to prevent the economic disaster he and his GOP colleagues enabled through eight years of fiscal
irresponsibility. And the lack of accountability for the damage that was done is inexcusable. But
criticize is all he can do because he has no record to stand on.


PJV:
President Obama appointed a deficit reduction commission that is scheduled to make
its recommendations later this year. In the meantime, Congressmen Barney Frank
and Ron Paul have been arguing that deficit reduction must include cuts in defense
spending. As a retired admiral, do you think we need eleven carrier battles groups? Do
we still need troops in Europe to defend against a Warsaw Pact that no longer exists?

We don’t. And the answer is improving our ability to interconnect our military assets. That
has not been pursued as vigorously as it should be. Our common link isn’t the sea anymore, it’s
cyberspace. I’m talking about scenarios where a soldier or sailor looks through binoculars
to identify a target and then blinks his eye to send the coordinates to a satellite. That data is
instantly relayed to missile which is launched to destroy the target. Make no mistake, we live in a
dangerous world and we need a military that is capable of defending us. My point is that we can
have a military which is more effective and efficient if we make investments in the technologies
that we need to fight in the 21st century.

PJV:
It’s been said that the passing of Senators Byrd and Kennedy marks the end of an era of
civility in the senate. Why have politics become so toxic?

Party leaders need to recognize that the “I win, you lose” way of doing business in Washington
today is sapping our government of its integrity. A key moment may well have been the way
Newt Gingrich (R-GA) went after Jim Wright (D-TX) in 1989. The book, The Ambition and the Power: The
Fall of Jim Wright
is worth reading. The issue is not whether (former Speaker of the House)
Wright was guilty of ethics violations, but how he was vilified in such a personal and partisan
way. I talked to people who appear in that book. They said that before the Wright episode there
were certainly fierce battles in congress, but they didn’t have the caustic, Hatfield vs. McCoys
animosity that you see today. As a result, the American people have become cynical and the
politicians, in turn, have become even more cynical. Instead of creating pragmatic solutions to
problems that we all recognize, we just try to make the other guy wrong. I think the Tea Party is
partly a reaction to that, and that’s why I don’t put don’t put them down. They’re just people who
want to be heard.