By Carole on Aug 30, 2011
New York Assemblyman David Weprin, the Democrat running to replace disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-New York), decided not to attend a scheduled debate Monday night against Republican Bob Turner. The Weprin campaign cited a series of reasons over the hours between the candidate's decision to back out and when the debate was supposed to take place, but Team Turner may have hit it on the nose when they accused Mr. Weprin of hiding after showing a frightening lack of knowledge about one of the most important issues facing the nation.
The Times Newsweekly, a local newspaper that was co-sponsoring the debate, first received a call from a Weprin representative citing "logistics" and "Assembly duties" as the reason for the no-show, but the New York State Assembly is not currently in session. Next came word that the cancellation was due to a combination of Hurricane Irene related issues and a jam-packed campaign schedule. Eventually the story was that Mr. Weprin would be attending "back-to-back meetings" and giving "newspaper interviews" during the time of the scheduled debate.
Maureen Walthers, publisher of the Times Newsweekly called Weprin a "coward" and a "worm" for not participating in the event, "What is he afraid of?" she asked. "Stand up and answer the questions!"
One thing Mr. Weprin should be afraid of is reaction to this exchange he had on Sunday with the New York Daily News Editorial Board about the nation's $14 trillion debt:
Daily News: "Right now, how big is the debt?"
Assemblyman Weprin: (Pause) "Trillions."
Daily News: "But how many?"
Assemblyman Weprin: (Deer in headlights look.) "I got caught up on this once before," referring to his inability while running unsuccessfully for city controller in 2009 to state that office's budget.
Daily News: "This is central to what is going on in Washington."
Assemblyman Weprin: "About 4 trillion."
Daily News: "Four trillion is the debt?"
Assemblyman Weprin: "Right."
That appalling mistake combined with Mr. Weprin's decision to back out of Monday night's debate prompted this reaction from Turner spokesman William O'Reilly: "Career politician David Weprin is in hiding. After demonstrating a stunning lack of knowledge about the size of the federal deficit - he was off by $10 trillion the last time he was asked - maybe he's home studying up. But still, it was rude to cancel at this late notice."
Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Civic Association which co-sponsored the event was even stronger in his criticism saying, “This is a kick in the head. It’s a slap in the face to the residents of this area. It shows the character of David Weprin." Mr. Holden went on to say that he's a "prime Democratic voter [but] if that's the kind of elected official [Weprin] would be, we don't want any part of him."
With the most recent poll showing Mr. Weprin clinging to a much smaller lead than expected in the heavily Democratic district, Mr. Holden may not be alone in his assessment.
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