Publisher's Note: A few weeks ago, Mark Brudz discussed the idea of regularly fact checking the candidates for the NY-27 Congressional District, much like a site like factcheck.org does on a national level. We believe this is the first such post with more to come in this campaign. We hope to encourage both candidates to run more honest and truthful campaigns than is usually seen in this highly partisan era.
If Mr. Collins is going to cry foul for Mrs. Hochul cherry-picking his words and not keeping them in full context, he should also hold himself to the same standard.
A Collins For Congress email sent Saturday afternoon used a statement by President Obama to attack Hochul.
Obama: "If you got a business, you didn't build it. Somebody else made that happen."
The email then went on with the subtitle: "Kathy Hochul's Presidential Candidate Slams Small Businesses."
Yes, the president did in fact say that, however, it was taken out of context in a excerpt from a campaign rally speech in Roanoke, Va., on Friday July 13. The Collins team included in their email a quote from the Washington Times article written by Walter Cooler.
"There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there."
The president's entire statement however, was not exactly a slam toward small business. In full context, the president more specifically expressed his belief in infrastructure and that successful business people rely on that infrastructure to grow their business. Additionally, President Obama stated that successful business people have achieved but also relied upon teachers and mentors to reach their goals.
All in all, there was much fodder for Mr. Collins with the statement in full context because it becomes more of philosophical discussion where Chris Collins actually can make some issue-based arguments.
It is no different than the flap earlier this month between Collins and Kathy Hochul. (See The Batavian; NY-27 race shaping up as a war over words.) Hochul jumped on a Collins statement that he made in answer to a question during an interview for The Batavian. Clearly Mrs. Hochul took Mr. Collins out of context in order to obtain the upper hand when there was plenty in that interview that she could have taken issue with in full context.
What we need from both Collins and Hochul at this point is more statement of what they intend to do in Congress and less of the carefully choreographed talking points that are typical in today's politicians.
This is President Obama's statement in full context:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires; we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.”
It would be very appropriate for Chris Collins to take the president to task on the entire statement in context, likewise it would also be appropriate for him to question Mrs. Hochul's position on this statement, should she actually have made one. In Chris Collins email, there were several bullet points where he did in fact state his strengths and there was a legitamate question posed as to Mrs. Hochul's private sector business knowledge and experience.
I say let them both go at it from that point and may the best candidate win. But spare us the talking points and the he said/she said game this time around. If you want my vote, spell out your agenda and let me decide.
After the jump, the complete press release from the campaign of Chris Collins (click on the headline to read more):