Today Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) held another in a series of community meetings, where citizens can talk to him and listen to his thoughts. I decided to attend because it's close to my home and I wanted to follow up on his statement last week when he admitted he hadn't read the National Intelligence Estimate prior to his vote on authorization for the war. The NIE report is largely the justification Bush and the Republican-dominated Congress used to push the war.
At this week's meeting in Bridgeport, many of the questions centered on the economy, health care, taxes, and a few people complained about immigrants. Rep. Shays then elaborated on the NIE question when he discussed the Iraq war. He claimed to have now read it, and talked about it.
There was an awkward moment during the meeting when Rep. Shays pointed me out along with CT Blogger, who was videotaping next to me, and essentially accused us of working for the Jim Himes campaign to try to trap him in a "gotcha" moment. After a bit of a spirited discussion where we insisted we were independent bloggers and weren't working for the Himes campaign, Mr. Shays apologized to both of us.
After the meeting I went up to him to discuss blogging coverage of his events and to offer to interview him. He immediately apologized again and shook my hand, and he invited me to visit him at his home for an interview. He was a gentleman about it, and I could see that he was honestly upset that he got carried away for a moment.
I absolutely intend to follow up on the interview offer, and I hope to schedule it in the very near future. There are questions regarding several issues that I'd like to discuss with him in a conversational setting.
I then got into a civil discussion with one of his staff who said that someone was videotaping at an earlier event, and she said that he did identify himself as a Himes worker who was taping the Congressman. I said that tracking politicians at public events isn't a new thing, and if the person doing the taping is respectful of the event and the candidate, then there's nothing wrong with doing it.
I then said that as long as the candidate didn't refer to him as "macaca", there's nothing to worry about. I thought it was kind of a funny statement, but she seemed to want to leave at that point and quickly excused herself.
I sometimes have that effect on people. I don't know why.
Stay tuned for details on the upcoming interview with Congressman Shays. There were maybe 60 people at the meeting today, but an online video will be viewed by thousands.
How many cameras were there? The Himes campaign is doing pretty well raising the money, but a two- or three-camera shoot would be pretty excessive by any standard.
I wasn't at any of the ones where a Himes staffer might have been tracking the appearance. But no matter. It's a legitimate procedure used by many campaigns.
And not so much hoping to catch the candidate in a "gotcha" moment but getting his policies and positions on tape, in case he changes opinions too much. And to give the other candidate some background for any future debates.
Great work at this event Bob. You conducted yourself in a truly professional manner.
Question for Chris Shays: "They" were wrong about the chemical weapons, wrong about the nuclear weapons, wrong about the connections to al Qaeda. Why do you believe "they" are right now? This wasn't the best forum for me to ask that question (the good people of Bridgeport come first), but I believe you will have an opportunity coming up some.
Also, earlier in the event he mentioned that the Tribal Militias are now standing up against al Qaeda and fighting with us. These, of course, are the same Sunni Militias that were fighting against the US military a little over a year ago. First - Shays surly can't feel this is progress, when a militia "stands up" where the much touted Iraqi Military should be standing up. Secondly – are we going to leave Iraq in the hands of militias? If this is the plan, I believe McCain is right. We will be there for 100 years.
You seem to have a good rapport with the Congressman. Please ask him these questions if you have a private meeting.
I've never seen you taping, but I have seen Al and he's always been very inobtrusive and professional.
I can imagine alot of politicians are a little parenoid after the Allen incident, but c'mon... if you don't talk like that most of the time, it's not going to be an issue. (and yes that includes the beloved Obama and his gun totin' immigrantz hatin' 'cracker' moment)
Shays should be thanking you for the exposure.. unless himes is advertising/paying you in which case you should have come clean with the guy, it's not illegal.
PS Nice to see Shays finally read the NIE. Next time A POP QUIZ is in order, ask him the difference between a Sunni and a Shi'ite
I told Chris Shays that I'll be completely fair in the interview. I think the voters would benefit from having a clear understanding of where Shays is on many issues. A video on my blog might reach more voters than he does in all his town meetings this month.
I know the person who was taping for Himes, and he said he identified himself to Shays' staffers every time he was asked. He was always cordial and polite, and while it may have rankled Chris a bit, it's an accepted part of the political landscape these days. You HAVE to assume you'll be much more closely scrutinized than ever before if you're a politician.
And it's totally permissible to be taping at a public meeting, even if it's for political purposes. If any candidate wants to rent a hall and make it an invitation-only event, then they can prohibit cameras.
But I can't imagine any politician in his right mind doing that.
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