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Painful to watch

Monday, Oct 15, 2012

* This 15-second pause while Congresswoman Judy Biggert attempts to ask a question of Democratic challenger Bill Foster is just downright painful to sit through

* Biggert’s explanation

When the candidates were given the opportunity to grill each other, Biggert stumbled for 15 seconds before asking a half-formed question.

“I wanna know how you are going to, uh – solve the, uh, campaign finance…”

“ – problem,” finished Foster, who then went on to say that outside spending by super PACs and other groups is “one of the biggest threats to our democracy.”

Asked afterward why it seemed so difficult to come up with the question, Biggert suggested she wasn’t comfortable going on the attack.

“I had a question and I just couldn’t remember what it was,” she said. “I just didn’t think that this was the way I wanna be. I don’t like sending out anything like [negative ads]. … But it’s what people respond to, and I think that’s a shame.”

* Biggert press release…

“Judy Biggert won today’s debate on the facts and on temperament, while demonstrating her command of the issues and commitment to the 11th District,” said campaign manager Mike Lukach. “In contrast, and in a desperate attempt to distract from his record of layoffs at Electronic Theatre Controls, former Congressman Foster ran from the fact that his company closed the deal for their new headquarters just weeks after laying off ten percent of their workforce, and broke ground just months later.”

“Millionaire former Congressman Foster owes the voters of the 11th District an apology for his distortions and falsehoods, and for hypocritically calling for higher taxes while paying no federal income taxes himself last year. Those watching today’s debate have been reminded why the voters fired Bill Foster in 2010.”

* Foster’s spin…

Today Congresswoman Judy Biggert refused to back down from her support of the Ryan budget that she voted for twice that would end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit, force seniors to pay more for their prescriptions immediately, and increase health care costs for future seniors by $6400. Congresswoman Biggert had no explanation for her votes to raise taxes on middle class families by $2700. After 30 years in politics, Congresswoman Biggert is more concerned about the profits of billionaires and corporations than the health of the middle class.

“Today Congresswoman Biggert stood by her vote to take away Medicare’s guaranteed benefit for seniors and raise taxes on the middle class,” said Bill Foster. “The Ryan/Biggert budget would force seniors to pay more for their prescriptions and leave future seniors with $6400 in additional costs, while also increasing taxes on middle class families by $2700. By voting for the Ryan budget, and continuing to support it, Congresswoman Biggert chose to protect tax breaks for insurance companies, billionaires, and Wall Street, while squeezing out the middle class.”

Congresswoman Biggert defended the Ryan budget this morning at a taped debate hosted by the League of Women Voters and ABC7 Chicago, which will air on Sunday Morning after This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The next debate was scheduled for Tuesday evening, but Congresswoman Biggert canceled her appearance at the AARP forum, refusing to explain her position to concerned seniors.

* Related…

* VIDEO: Full debate

* Suburban congressional candidates square off in debate

* DREAM Act among topics in Biggert, Foster debate

* 1 clash after another for Biggert, Foster in 11th District congressional race - Each candidate accuses the other of TV attack ads and negative politics

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Will Caskey - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 10:54 am:

    It’s worth remembering that Biggert’s last real race was against Peter Roskam, in 1998. Her campaign has been passable but her candidacy has been rusty at best.

  2. - 47th Ward - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 10:55 am:

    That was downright Plummeresque. 15 seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, unless you’re in this position, and then it seems like an eternity.

    And Biggert doesn’t like going negative? Was that her ad targeting Foster for being a millionaire who laid off employees before Christmas? I don’t recall who paid for that ad, but it sounded like she was a Democrat running against a Romney-like candidate. Weird. Desperate times call for desperate measures I guess.

  3. - PublicServant - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    I watched the debate. Foster looked competent. Biggert looked inept. nuff said.

  4. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:05 am:

    I don’t recall who ran against Biggert in 2008, but I do recall Rich posting a video of a debate on Chicago Tonight with her opponent. Absolutely awful, she was.

  5. - Ken - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:07 am:

    Chicago Trib reported that the layoff at Foster’s company happened right after 9/11 attack (understandable for theater lighting manufacturer) and expanding more factory floor was in 2004 and managed to hire twice more people by 2004 from their 2001 layoff. It’s a shame that Biggert turned to down right lies.

  6. - walkinfool - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:11 am:

    A human moment. Too bad our elections can turn on an American Idol performance.

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:15 am:

    Yeah, that’s painful. I feel sorry for anyone in that position. I felt sorry for Rick Perry when he brain-cramped.

    It can happen to anyone, but the camera, like nature, is indifferent to your well-being. It will wreck you if you’re not careful.

    My son and I were watching football yesterday and saw back-to-back negative-Foster/negative-Biggert spots.

    It was hilarious, as they were virtually the same spot — big, bad millionaires, concerned only about lining their pockets and out of touch with the rest of “us.”

  8. - Anonymiss - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:15 am:

    More than a moment. Watch the whole video… and the AARP debate tomorrow night. Oh wait. She bailed on it.

  9. - kid wonder - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:16 am:

    Wow I guess Judy went to the Plummer Debate Prep School. Judy is a nice lady but come on she has been a horrible public speaker for so many years and now she can’t even remember stuff I really think her age is coming thru in this campaign. Oh how I wish she would have stayed with her self imposed term limit pledge!

  10. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:19 am:

    I have to say, Foster showed restraint and class in the situation.

    If you’ll recall, back when Rick Perry was choking on the cabinet departments he’d eliminate, both Ron Paul and Mitt Romney were laughing and nudging him on his predicament.

  11. - OneMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:22 am:

    Well Ken

    Chicago Trib reported that the layoff at Foster’s company happened right after 9/11 attack (understandable for theater lighting manufacturer)

    Then it isn’t a lie then, is it. Considering the number of ‘half’ stories Foster has told (and used in ads) he gets no sympathy.

    Also what kind of business is run so close to the edge that a two month slowdown requires letting people go? Not a very good one….

  12. - Shore - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:23 am:

    I really really really like judy biggert, so I want to be nice, but when you posted the tape of her debate with harper a few years ago I said I thought it was time for her to give someone else a chance. This is not a first time thing with debates. Her constituents know her better, but it doesn’t look great on tv.

  13. - VanillaMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    No big deal.
    So she chocked.
    Save the insults for her record, not this stupid stuff.

  14. - Responsa - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:42 am:

    Yes, it’s painful to watch. Not good optics, for sure. At the same time everybody please remember the last time you yourself had an embarrassing brainf*rt. Remember too that some local congressional races are not even offering constituents an opportunity to see them in a “debate” setting at all. Why, one person running for U.S. congress has not even been seen in public for months or spoken a word to the constituents or answered a question from the media. Proportion is in order, people.

  15. - House of Pain - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:43 am:

    Oh my gosh she is with her head!”

  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 11:45 am:

    –Also what kind of business is run so close to the edge that a two month slowdown requires letting people go?–

    You must be joking.

    And who said it was a “two-month slowdown,” anyway? Businesses tied to travel, hospitality, dining and entertainment were whacked hard for more than a year after 9/11.

  17. - OneMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    No I am totally serious

    And who said it was a “two-month slowdown,” anyway? Businesses tied to travel, hospitality, dining and entertainment were whacked hard for more than a year after 9/11.

    Using Ken’s statement

    Chicago Trib reported that the layoff at Foster’s company happened right after 9/11 attack (understandable for theater lighting manufacturer) and expanding more factory floor was in 2004 and managed to hire twice more people by 2004 from their 2001 layoff

    2001 layoff, with 9/11 occurring on 9/11/2001 and the layoffs occurring in well 2001 before Christmas well in November 2001 actually

    So September 2001 to November 2001 would be approximately 2 months…

    See it isn’t complicated…

    If they did it 6 or 8 months later, I might see your point.

    But it wasn’t 6 to 8 months, it was 2.

    Do you get the math or do you need a graph or something.

  18. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 12:52 pm:

    I would dismiss it if the moderator had just tossed this out with no warning. However, since this was part of the format they agreed to, her response is disturbing. She should have had at least one or two questions written on the papers in front of her and ready to go. Also, asking your opponent a question or two is not the same as going on the attack.

  19. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 1:23 pm:

    Well, at least the Dems haven’t played the dementia card, yet.
    Faux News had a shrink offer up an opinion that Uncle Joe Biden’s debate performance was caused by that.
    I am not making this up.

  20. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    One Man, you’re pretty easy to follow.

    But if you don’t think there are businesses — manufacturers, anything in the construction trades, professional services, retail, hospitality, virtually anything in the private sector — that don’t lay off folks when revenues drop off substantially for a couple of months, you live in a better world than most of us.

    Most small businesses in the private sector operate on the razor’s edge. They staff up when busy, they lay off when slow. They don’t pay folks to hang around doing nothing.

  21. - Jason McGrath - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    Reminds me of Patsy Madrid’s debate snafu in 2006 in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, which Heather Wilson turned into a devastating attack ad in the campaign’s final days. It allowed Wilson to hold on in a rough environment.

    Fair # of undecided voters in this contest — moments like this may actually break through.

  22. - John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 1:34 pm:

    I’ve known Judy Biggert for a long time. This is a shame. Perhaps a selected next-bearer-of-the-flag would have been in order in this race.

  23. - wishbone - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 1:49 pm:

    Foster has my vote. It’s nice to have a real race in DuPage County. Debates matter. One may have cost my guy the Presidency.

  24. - OneMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 2:04 pm:

    Well Word I guess that makes one of us, because your one year out logic describing the economic situation as an explanation of why a two month later layoff occurred was not real easy to follow…

    But to your point…

    No, most manufacturing operations do not let skilled workers go during the early part of any slowdown, because it is harder to acquire skilled workers and get the back up to speed.

    If the folks at Foster’s company had been unionized it also would have likely been different, but we will let that one go.

    Anyway, even the ’slowdown’ argument does not make a ton of sense, why.

    Well I have a friend who works for a company that does rigging and stage work (including putting in the stuff for lighting systems in theaters) and you know where a large amount of that business comes from?

    It isn’t from places like the Lyric Opera or even the live stage places in Chicago. It comes from high schools, why because most high schools have an auditorium and those auditoriums have theatrical lighting. Think about it, even in Chicago I suspect more is spent on theatrical lighting by Chicago high schools than professional and pseudo professional venues. I suspect it isn’t even close in every other city in the state…

    So then even if you don’t agree that it is the majority of the business, I think it is obvious that it is at least a significant portion of the business…

    So that being said, unless schools in other parts of the country behaved differently that schools in Illinois they did not spending money differently in the two months after 9/11 than they were spending the two months before 9/11…

    So lets say business slowed up right after 9/11, I have worked at places that have seen business slowdowns.

    That is why you have lines of credit, that is when you make other changes besides letting people go. You don’t replace folks who leave, you get money from your investors.

    Why? Because letting go skilled folks and having to hire new ones on a cyclical basis is painful and can be expensive. You have the costs of letting folks go (severance if you offer it, the impact on your unemployment insurance rate (even in Wisconsin), general lost productivity, etc) letting people go isn’t cheep, that is why you try not to do it at the drop of a hat.

    I would suspect that it wasn’t just a two month slowdown that led to the layoffs, that things had been slowing up for a while. By that is my suspicion, nothing more.

    Anyway, I think the question is ‘what did Foster have to do with the layoff anyway’ if he was working at Fermilab how much time did he spend at the family business as it were…

    Also I find it funny that Democrats are defending an action and complaining about an attack that they would gleefully use on a Republican at the drop of a hat.

    Or is it only bad when companies run by big mean Republicans lay people off?

  25. - Rich Miller - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===So lets say business slowed up right after 9/11===

    Let’s say? In some industries, businesses came to a complete standstill. C’mon, man. Move along.

  26. - OneMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 2:13 pm:

    Heck between the layoffs and Biggert getting the NEA/IEA endorsement perhaps I should vote for Foster….

  27. - Bill - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 3:06 pm:

    I think that would be an excellent solution. Judy’s time has long since passed.

  28. - OneMan - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 3:17 pm:


    Not sure if I disagree with you on Judy’s time having passed…

    But I don’t think Bill is the answer, in part to be blunt because his science background is in many ways not a positive for an elected official (and this coming from a computer guy)

    Because fundamentally, a scientist (engineer, etc) feels that if they have explained something to you in a logical way with the supporting data the discussion should be over.

    That isn’t the way government works, because it isn’t the way people work. Might work on Vulcan, it isn’t going to work here. It is sad perhaps, but you know it is what it is.

    There were some Democrats that would have been better picks (including the guy they drew the district for) but you go to the dance with who you go to the dance with.

  29. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 7:18 pm:

    Rep. Biggert had a brain-cramp, and who cares? No big deal.

    But One Man, don’t think you’re doing her any favors:

    –But I don’t think Bill is the answer, in part to be blunt because his science background is in many ways not a positive for an elected official (and this coming from a computer guy)

    Because fundamentally, a scientist (engineer, etc) feels that if they have explained something to you in a logical way with the supporting data the discussion should be over–

    Are you for real, dude?

    We should keep the scientists and engineers out of the discussion of public policy? Because they know too much? They’re too smart?

    Let’s replace them with the snake-handlers and strycychine-drinkers.

    C’mon man, the Englightenment is old news.

  30. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Oct 15, 12 @ 9:28 pm:

    What got me was that the Biggert camp agreed to the format that stung their candidate.

    The rumor that was out there before this was that Biggert’s mental acuity has diminished to the point where she is basically a vessel for her staff and GOP leadership.

    This video reinforces this rumor.

    Biggert has aggressively avoided venues where she would make this kind of mistake on video. She doesn’t like to debate. She doesn’t like to appear where video is being shot.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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