An energetic debate in Stamford on Thursday night centering on foreign policy drew out stark contrasts and a few similarities between Jim Himes and Dan Debicella, who are competing for the state's 4th District Congressional seat.
Himes , the Democratic incumbent, favors civilian trials for foreigners accused of terrorism, believes it is important to coordinate crisis-induced financial regulations cross-nationally, and says the war on terror should be focused more on al-Qaida and Pakistan rather than the Taliban and Afghanistan.
"Al-Qaida are the people who struck us on 9-11, and right now they're not in Afghanistan, they're in Pakistan," said Himes. "The primary threat is Pakistan."
Debicella , the Republican challenger, would support air strikes to eradicate Iran's nuclear capability, believes a commitment to alternative energy development must adhere to a long-term plan and advocates military tribunals for terrorists.
"I believe military tribunals is the appropriate way to handle terrorists," said Debicella. "If you are not a citizen of the United States, you do not have a right to a civilian trial."
Debicella and Himes squared off in a public debate presented by the Stamford-based World Affairs Forum that attracted about 300 people to the downtown Holiday Inn. Forum Executive Director Kay Maxwell served as moderator.
Each candidate answered the same audience-submitted questions. One question that generated the most verbal sparring was about civilian trials for terrorists.
Though the candidates maintained clear foreign policy differences, the event also highlighted similarities. For example, each expressed a desire for the United States to engage with an evolving Cuba, the need for more accommodating legal entry requirements for foreign students and workers, and the opinion that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an undesirable head of state.
Himes, from Greenwich, is running for his second Congressional term. Debicella, of Shelton, is in his second term in the Connecticut state Senate, representing the state's 21st District, which includes Stratford, Shelton, Monroe, and Seymour.
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