Monday night’s showdown at the Quick Center between U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays R-4 and Democrat Diane Farrell provided students and faculty with a first-hand glimpse at one of the nation’s most hotly contested races. A few important themes, highlights and lowlights from the two hour face-off: THING THE MAJOR PARTY CANDIDATES DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW: They’re unbelievably similar in their stances on most issues, including the war in Iraq. The candidates answered nine questions from the six-member student panel and several more from the audience, and used vastly different rhetoric to convey the exact same points in several instances. On Iraq, the signature issue of the race, Shays spoke for more than two minutes about his expertise on the subject. He said that when he realized American intelligence agencies were wrong about weapons of mass destruction, he decided to start getting his information firsthand, traveling to Iraq 14 times to investigate the situation for himself. His general conclusion: Americans and Iraqis need to negotiate a time for Iraqis to take over their own government and Americans to go home. Farrell, meanwhile, made sure to point out that Shays and the Republican-controlled Congress got the country into the war, and that Shays supported the war up until last month, when he called for a timeline for withdrawal. Her general conclusion: the U.S. needs to negotiate a ceasefire between the Sunnis and Shiites, and get out of there. The rivals also said they agree on increased funding for inner-city schools, government restrictions on gambling, and that it isn’t possible right now for the country to adopt a universal healthcare system. FUNNIEST MOMENT: Every time Phil Maymin, the Libertarian Party nominee, said something, the audience roared with laughter. His best line though, was about one of the many things he said he thinks is wrong with the government. “Try not paying your taxes, and see what happens,” he said. “The government will come to your house with guns.” Maymin also proposed eliminating virtually all federal taxes except for the sales tax; that the Department of Education should be banished; and that U.S. troops stationed in other countries should all come home. He compared the Bush administration’s approach to foreign policy to that of a man who, in an attempt to secure his house, runs out in the middle of the night and searches the whole world for a man who might have a knife, instead of simply locking his windows and doors. BIGGEST WISECRACK. When discussing her views on Iraq, Farrell ignored two bells signifying her time to speak was up. A minute later, Shays turned to moderator Phillip Eliasoph and said, “I don’t understand the concept of keeping time.” Speaking of time, Green Party candidate Richard Duffy lobbied for extra time on his closing statement since he hadn’t used up as much of his speaking time when answering questions. When Eliasoph refused, he walked back to his bar stool in frustration. BIGGEST DISPLAY OF ANGER: After Steve Teti ’07, a member of the College Democrats club who will appear in a soon-to-be aired TV spot for Farrell, asked Shays how he was an independent voter given the fact that he has voted with the Bush administration 82 percent of the time, Shays launched into a spirited defense of his record, saying that he has voted with the President less than 60 percent of the time in each of the last two years, and that many of his pro-Bush votes came in the time immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, when congress acted quickly to pass anti-terrorism bills.

MOST UNUSUAL ATTIRE: Unlike the other three candidates, Duffy wore tan corduroy pants and dark brown work boots. Put that together with a long gray beard, and he looked far more like a history professor than a politician.

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