Fourteen months before the election, U.S. senatorial candidate Jeanine Pirro made her first campaign stop in Ithaca yesterday. Speaking first at Cornell and then at the Ithaca Country Club, Pirro vowed to work for “ordinary New Yorkers.”
As senator, the current Westchester County district attorney hopes to create jobs, cut taxes, improve New York’s schools and make New York a safer place.
At a press conference, reporters asked whether Pirro’s local experience was relevent for the position of senator.
Pirro said she is more suited for the needs of New York than Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) is, because Pirro has been a state resident her entire life.
“I grew up in Elmira,” Pirro told The Sun, “and I know this is not the way to create incentives for small business. New York is the second highest taxed state – why would small businesses want to come here?”
Pirro attributed problems with the New York State economy to a perceived willingness in Clinton to pass taxes. “[Clinton] has never seen a tax she didn’t like; she wants to tax us when we die, tax us when we get married … we need to make President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.”
To those who doubt that Pirro’s district attorney experience has made her qualified to handle national issues, like those of foreign policy, Pirro again brings the argument back to Clinton.
“I think that like when my opponent came to New York and asked us to give her a welcome mat and we did, [Washington should do the same for me].”
As for foreign policy, Pirro said that it was her goal to ensure that the war on terror does not affect New Yorkers any more than it already has.
While on campus, Pirro drew on her past to establish credibility for her promises for the future. She spoke about her career as a young prosecutor, assigned to the appeals bureau “because that’s where they thought women belonged.”
Pirro talked about being the first woman in her county to try a murder case, starting a domestic violence unit that was the first of its kind, and campaigning against online pedophiles. “I’m a solution person,” she said.
One piece of legislation Pirro proposed last year with Gov. George E. Pataki was to tighten the law on the use of forged identification. Under the new legislation, those under 21 caught using a falsified ID to purchase alcohol would have their driver’s licenses revoked until their 21st birthdays, or for a year, whichever was longer.
“In Ithaca, you have a difficult situation because you have students running for office promising to keep the bars open later and trying to lower the drinking age, and then you have a senatorial candidate who comes to visit, who’s cracking down on underage drinking,” said Mark Finkelstein ’70, the vice chair of the Tompkins County Republican Committee.
“Personally, when I was a Cornell student, the drinking age was 18, and that was a lot more realistic,” he said.
Pirro’s trip to Ithaca was received with mixed reviews.
“She spent her speech discussing the ways she was looking out for the rights of children, but at the end she told us that she’s ‘pro-abortion;’ I think that if you’re going to look out for the rights of children, it should be for the rights of all children,” said Elisabeth Wilbert ’07.
A supporter of a woman’s right to choose, Pirro identifies herself as socially liberal, but says her liberalism is very different than Clinton’s.
“There are two women running for senator in New York State; only one wants to be senator from New York,” she said.
Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun News Editor