Exclusive Interview with Chuck Schumer (Vol. 64, Issue 4)
The Commentator attempted to interview both candidates in the NY Senatorial election; however, Alfonse D’Amato declined to accommodate our requests.
Commentator: What aspect of your platform, to your thinking, distinguishes your candidacy as more desirable than that of Sen. D’Amato to moderate or undecided voters?
Schumer: Al D’Amato and I are very different legislators. I have authored and passed the Brady Bill, Assault Weapons Ban, the 1994 Crime Law which put 100,000 police on the streets, the Violence Against Women Act, and the Hate Crimes law to punish violent crimes of bigotry. With the exception of the Hate Crimes law, Al D’Amato has opposed every one of my bills. In addition, during his 18 years in the Senate, Al D’Amato has never passed a significant piece of national legislation.
Commentator: The media has sought to frame this election as a battle along ethnic fault lines. Particular attention has been devoted to your “Jewish credentials,” as well as those of your opponent. Do you believe casting policy issues in this narrow fashion is a service to the quality of substantive campaign discourse?
Schumer: In a race where my opponent will outspend me three to one, I have to answer the charges he makes in his ad campaign. In the primary election I talked only about substance and never once mentioned my opponent’s name. That is not possible in this race.
Regarding our “Jewish credentials,” both AI D’Amato and myself have nearly identical records regarding Israel. Given our records, I am disappointed that in upstate New York he is running ads criticizing me for supporting foreign aid — which we all know means aid to Israel.
Commentator: The tone of the advertising clash between yourself and your opponent has been, at best, rancorous. It seems to many pundits that these contentious exchanges have diverted the focus of public debate away from more relevant matters. Do you agree with this assessment?
Schumer: I would love a campaign that talks only about the issues. That is my passion as a legislator and it is also my strongest suit. But as I said before — the tenor of this race is really controlled by Al D’Amato.
Commentator: In the event that the House resolves to impeach President William Jefferson Clinton, would you, as a Senator, be inclined to favor his ouster?
Schumer: Based on the evidence that has been supplied by the Office of the Independent Counsel thus far, careful reading of the impeachment clause of the Constitution and various scholarly articles that interpret that clause, have concluded that the President should be punished, but not impeached. His actions, though reprehensible, do not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors as cited in the Constitution.