Thursday, December 25, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Charlie Rangel's Birthday Quiz Show hits The Bronx

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It probably isn't how most people would want to celebrate their 84th birthday.

Charles Rangel last night debated his two main Democratic primary opponents for the final time, playing grumpy old congressman for an hour as State Sen. Adriano Espaillat and pastor Michael Walrond tried to get their licks in during the forum sponsored by NY1.

Rangel, who gamely stood at his podium for an hour, at times seemed exasperated and petulant, fiddling with his microphone and even quizzing Espaillat at one point as he tried to ask Rangel about the Dodd-Frank Act, which aimed to reform Wall Street.

"Do you have any idea who Frank is?" snapped Rangel.
“Yes, he’s a congressman,” replied Espaillat.

Playing the Smartest Lawmaker in the Room, Rangel referred to his two challengers as "trainees", warning the audience at Lehman College that it was no time for change during turbulent times in Washington D.C.

Walrond channeled his skills as a Sunday orator, noting that Rangel and Espaillat have been in office for roughly sixty years – and are still making promises.
"Legislative experience can be learned,” he told the crowd. "but you cannot teach someone to be compassionate, you cannot teach someone to be a visionary."

Espaillat often took his lines from the mainstream Democratic playbook, while growing exasperated with Rangel questioning him about whether he wants to remain a State Senator should he lose the primary.
"I don't think this should be part of the debate,'' he said, calling Rangel's hectoring "inside baseball."

Given a chance by NY1's Errol Louis to clear the air of the racial mudslinging that has dominated the race over the last week, the three men called a truce with Espaillat wryly observing that the contest shouldn't be a repackaging of "West Side Story" with the Sharks facing off against the Jets.

While people have been quick to note that whoever wins will likely have little clout in the Republican-dominated House next January, the winner can take solace in one fact: he'll still have more power than Eric Cantor.

Bob Hardt

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