Politics / POLITICS
Both NY-09 Candidates Urge Voters to Send Far-reaching Message
"There's no question that President Obama needs to be sent a very strong message that he can't consider the Palestinian Authority and Israel as moral equivalents," he said. "We've made this mistake in the past, and when we have, we've always had tremendous problems." Obama has called for Israel to return to the borders it had prior to 1967 as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Obama's latest jobs proposal "warmed over spit," said Giuliani, adding that it's "basically all the same things he's tried in the past." Giuliani noted that he this district when he was running for mayor - as did Democrat Ed Koch, who has crossed party lines to Republican Turner. Predicting that Turner will win as well, Giuliani said the upset will force the White House to reconsider its Middle East policy. "If this district votes for Bob Turner, believe me, on Wednesday morning, the White House will be thinking about a new policy with regard to the state of Israel, because this would send a signal much stronger than just this district," Giuliani said. Turner joked that Giuliani was getting him "a little more attention than I'm accustomed to." The campaign has moved "far beyond Mr. Weprin and myself," the former cable TV executive added. "I think it is a referendum in many ways. For me, I'm representing the 9th, I'm representing the views of these people," said Turner. "That message will come through loud and clear tomorrow and it can be interpreted the way anyone wants." Rabbi David Algaze attended the rally as a supporter of Turner, and while he's a registered Democrat, he'll be voting Republican largely due to Israel - as will many of his synagogue's members. "I believe that Mr. Turner is an independent person, an intelligent person, and it's a message to Obama that the Jewish people are not going to elect the same people that treat us incorrectly over and over again just because they're Democrats," said Algaze. A few miles away, Weprin and several local Democratic officials who had been with him at several campaign events this weekend visited the Rego Park Senior Center, hoping that Democrats' opposition to the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. -- which includes a controversial proposed overhaul of the Social Security system - will motivate seniors to vote Democratic. "The differences between me and my opponent are like day and night. I am committed to preserving Social Security and Medicare," Weprin said. "I think there is waste in the federal budget, but we should use a scalpel, not a hatchet." The seniors who had just finished stretching exercises, gave Weprin a warm reception, with several assuring them that they'd be voting for him tomorrow.. Some still played Mahjong nearby. Weprin then headed to a kick-off rally at his campaign headquarters, just three blocks from where the Giuliani and Turner press conference would later take place. More than 100 campaign volunteers - part of an army of 1,000 that Democrats say they'll have on the ground -- crammed into the small Queens County Democratic Headquarters, ready to hit the streets. They held Weprin signs and chanted "Weprin! Weprin! Weprin!" Neighboring Rep. Joe Crowley, who also serves as Queens County Democratic Chairman and was instrumental in selecting Weprin as the party's nominee for the seat vacated by disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, argued that Democrats will pull out a victory. "[Republicans] don't think that this election is about Social Security and Medicare," Crowley boomed. "The people of the 9th are not dummies. They know what this is about." Crowley scoffed at reports that Democrats are blaming Weprin's slip on the polls on a dysfunctional campaign. "If this is dysfunction, I'd really like to be in a functional environment," he laughed. "Is dysfunction having 1,000 troops on the ground? Let's let tomorrow speak for itself. We'll deal with the recriminations, no matter which way it goes, the day after that. " He also pushed back at the notion that the president's approval ratings would have an impact on the race, calling Obama's jobs speech last week "of the best speech he's given so far" and arguing that the latest polls in the race don't reflect that bump. "This isn't about the president's numbers. This is about David Weprin and what he stands for, and quite frankly it's what his opponent stands for and doesn't stand for," said Crowley, calling Turner a "tea party person" and "right wing." "He'd be the 86th tea party member," said Crowley. "We're not going to let that happen here in Queens County." Forest Hills resident Bruce Grossberg, 52, an unemployed lawyer, was one of those Democrats who came out to canvass. He said the Ryan budget spurred his involvement. "A guy like me, I'm mostly paid in," he said of the Medicare reform plan. "If they cut my stuff, I'm not going to have enough chance to work or to make that up. I'm worried that these Republicans are all marching in lockstep." Weprin kept a cheery face throughout the day, and outside the senior center, again cautioned reading too much into the results as a national referendum - believing he would ultimately hold onto the seat. "I don't think it says anything about 2012," said Weprin. "I think it says about tomorrow, and I expect to win tomorrow.