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NY 21st Congressional Candidates Debate

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Mountain Lake PBS

The final debate between the three candidates in New York’s 21st Congressional district was taped Monday at Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh.
New York’s 21st Congressional District is one of the largest geographically in the eastern U.S., stretching across all of northern New York.  Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik faces Democrat Mike Derrick and Green Matt Funiciello in her first re-election campaign.  They met for their third debate in Plattsburgh Monday.

The candidates were questioned on a number of topics including gun control, jobs and the economy, and dairy prices.  Many of the queries centered on the presidential candidates. Panelist Zach Hirsch kicked off the debate asking if each would support their nominee.
Moderator Thom Hallock: “We begin with Mr. Derrick.”
Democrat Mike Derrick:  “I support Hillary Clinton and she is clearly the best choice that we have for President of the United States. On the other side we have Donald Trump and I ask myself how my opponent Elise Stefanik can still stand with Mr. Trump in this election.”
Moderator Thom Hallock:  “Mr. Funiciello you’re next.”
Green Matt Funiciello: “Dr. Jill Stein is not only a Harvard educated doctor she’s also actually a medical instructor for Harvard. You don’t attain that position without being a fairly brilliant human being.”
Moderator Thom Hallock:  “Ms. Stefanik.”
Republican Elise Stefanik: “I’ve been critical of both candidates running for Cong..running for president. I will be supporting the Republican nominee because he is willing to work with a Republican Congress.”

The candidates occasionally traded barbs.  During one exchange Funiciello and Mike Derrick, a veteran, took issue with federal funding streams after NY Now managing editor Matt Ryan asked if the candidates could support Hillary Clinton’s free state college tuition plan.
Moderator Thom Hallock:  “Mr. Funiciello.”
Green Matt Funiciello:  “Education in this country is a matter of priorities. Why are we wasting all this money on war?  Why aren’t we spending this money on our children? ‘Cause our priorities are pretty messed up.”
Moderator Thom Hallock:  “Mr. Derrick.”
Democrat Mike Derrick:  “We don’t get the world as we want it.  We get the world as it is. And we as a nation have a role to play.  Part of that burden is borne by our U.S. military.  The other point if we were to enact tax reform in this country and do it effectively we would have plenty of resources to fund education as we have proposed.”

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has warned, without presenting evidence, that the election could be rigged.  Hirsch asked if the candidates see any evidence of voter fraud in the 21st District.  Stefanik and Derrick agreed there isn’t.  But part of Funiciello’s response led to a double-take from Press Republican reporter Joe LoTemplio.
Green Matt Funiciello:  “Many of us have believed from the start that Donald Trump, who is a life-long Democrat, is really probably just running to help Hillary get elected.  And the reality is that having Trump run gives her a juxtaposed candidate who’s so horrific that of course we have to look at her as the rational choice.  In 2000 we know that the Diebold machines were rigged in Florida. Democrats didn’t fight to fix that. Greens did.  We need to go back to paper ballots.  I’m not being a Luddite about it. I’m saying it’s a lot harder to cheat that way.”
Moderator Thom Hallock:  “Next question is from Joe LoTemplio to Mr. Derrick.”
Joe LoTemplio:  “Trump’s running to get Hillary elected?”
Green Matt Funiciello:  “I’m not, I’m not saying that is the case.  I’m saying that there definitely has been a lot of speculation about that. And given how horrible a candidate he is it’s believable.”

Debate audio is courtesy of Mountain Lake PBS.  A link to view the debate is available here.

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