BOXER VS. FONG: How Important Are Issues?
On the issue of health care, "California voters think U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer [D-CA] would do a better job" than her Republican challenger, state Treasurer Matt Fong, according to a new Field Poll. The Sacramento Bee reported that health care ranked as one of the top five issues, with 41% of voters saying they "thought Boxer had the better position on the issue, compared with 24% who thought Fong did." Almost two-thirds (64%) of Democrats thought the issue important, while only half as many (32%) Republicans did. Boxer also "fared better" on the issue of abortion. The Bee notes that "the new poll is good news for the Boxer campaign on issues," but the fact remains that Boxer "is still behind in the race." Forty-eight percent of respondents said they would vote for Fong, compared with 44% who favored Boxer. Mark DiCamillo, managing director of the Field Poll, said, "What this tells me is that issues are not playing the major role in the Senate race." The Bee reports that the poll was conducted Sept. 27-Oct. 5 (Capps, 10/10).
Play It Again, Sam
Last night, in "a spirited debate that focused on issues and not personalities," Boxer and Fong "staked out clear differences" on abortion. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that last night's televised debate comes just three weeks before voters decide the winner of the "toss-up" race for the Senate (Gunnison/Wildermuth, 10/13). The Los Angeles Times reports that the debate was "polite but pointed," while outlining both candidates' "party-line positions on perennials" such as abortion. Boxer said, "Mr. Fong says that the law that guarantees women the right to choose is wrong." But Fong countered, "It is wrong for my opponent to try to scare women into thinking I am trying to take away a woman's right to choose" (Barabak, 10/13). The Chronicle reports that Boxer defended "her record as a supporter of abortion rights," but Fong succeeded "in clarifying himself as more to the center on abortion." When asked about parental consent, Boxer "[s]aid she preferred minors get the consent of parents ... but said abused kids aren't always safe in doing so with 'tightly-worded parental consent laws.'" Accusing Fong and "extremists in Congress" of going "after a woman's right to choose in a very, very basic way," Boxer "used the parental consent question to bring up legal abortion," the Chronicle reports. Fong said, "I do favor parental consent." While noting that he believes Roe v. Wade "was based upon some wrong assumptions," Fong said he "would respect and protect a woman's right to choose in her first trimester" (10/13). The debate "broke no new ground," the Times reports, and sounded as if it "were lifted verbatim from the candidates' first debate in August" (10/13). Click here for past coverage of this race.