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A rundown of Tuesday night’s Berman v. Sherman v. Reed debate [VIDEO]

by Jonah Lowenfeld

February 22, 2012 | 11:59 am

As advertised, foreign policy matters dominated at Tuesday night’s Jewish Journal-sponsored debate between candidates running for congress in the 30th district.

Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), and Republican Mark Reed faced off in a 90-minute debate that covered the Iranian nuclear threat, what role the United States should play in bringing about peace between Israelis and Palestinians and whether to arm the rebels battling against government forces in Syria. The candidates also covered domestic policy issues.

It was a packed house at Temple Judea in Tarzana—800 people came, by the organizers’ count—and the two Jewish incumbent Democratic congressmen further upped the temperature in this hotly contested race.

Among the things we learned at Tuesday night’s “Tussle in the Temple” (h/t L.A. Weekly) were:

—Sherman, while still a co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, thinks it was poorly written. Berman, who was one of the bill’s earliest co-sponsors, stood firm in his support of it, despite the outcry from internet companies and users last month that effectively killed the bill.

—Berman still won’t sign Sherman’s pledge to eliminate Super PACs from their race, calling it “a gimmick.” Berman also noted that Sherman’s first negative ad—a flyer that attempted to tie Berman to the 2009 San Bruno gas line explosion using a donation from the company involved in the disaster (PG & E) to a Super PAC backing Berman (Rebuilding America) as the link from one to the other—had backfired. On February 21, Senator Barbara Boxer cited that flyer when she jumped in to support Berman over Sherman.


Video footage from Tuesday night’s debate.  Story continues after the jump.

—Sherman would advocate moving the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (One has to guess that Berman would support such a position as well—he voted in favor a bill that would have moved the embassy to Jerusalem in 1995—but since the moving of embassies is a Presidential prerogative, it’s not clear how much a congressman’s position on the issue actually matters.)

—Berman, objecting to what he called Sherman’s distortions of his record, turned his opponent’s name into a critique of its own: “For him to invert the truth is … Brad!”

—Reed, who dismissed both Berman and Sherman as “party hacks,” and said that he would support Israel’s going after Iranian nuclear facilities only if the United States won’t do it first, hasn’t been to Israel (yet).

Many political leaders turned out Tuesday night, including Rep. Henry Waxman, who is supporting Berman in this race and told KPCC that he’s “angry that two Democrats are running against each other, spending millions of dollars, when we could have used that money to elect other Democrats.”

Susan Shelley, a Republican candidate running in the 30th district who filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against the Jewish Journal’s parent company after not being invited to participate in Tuesday night’s debate, was also present. According to the L.A. Times, she gave out “goodie bags.”

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