Hecklers Disrupt U.S. Senate Debate

New London — The residual buzz from Monday night's Senate debate was not about the war in Iraq, universal health care or Social Security. This time, it wasn't even about the one-liners delivered by the Republican underdog, Alan Schlesinger.

Instead, it was: “What were they singing?”

The debate, the third and probably last forum in the Senate race, was marked by a pair of noisy disruptions that brought the on-stage action at the Garde Arts Center to a halt, each time while Sen. Joe Lieberman was speaking.

The hecklers, a pair of men from the LaRouche Youth Movement, sang a harmonized ode targeting Vice President Dick Cheney, which, according to the group's Web site, is unofficially titled “The Fat-Ass Nazi Song.”

The candidates were answering a question about their campaigns — what percentage of the information in their television ads is true — when Lieberman, who's running as an independent, chastised the Democratic candidate, Ned Lamont.

“If I were still attorney general of Connecticut, I would have sued you for unfair trade practices,” Lieberman said, adding that Lamont's ads “constantly distort” Lieberman's record and are filled with “lies.” A hearty round of boos and hissing greeted Lieberman, who put a finger to his lips and smiled at the audience.

The two men, sitting about halfway back on the floor level of the theater, interrupted the booing and surprised the crowd of about 1,000.

“Leeee-berman, don't support Dick Cheney/Che-ney is a fat ass Nazi,” they sang, in a marching verse that then seemed to transition into German.

Lamont said, “Stop,” and Lieberman, assuming the pair to be Lamont supporters, seized the chance to continue his point about negative campaigning. He told the two: “Your candidate, Ned Lamont, has asked you to stop.”

The men were escorted out, but the debate was interrupted again during Lieberman's closing statement, when what appeared to be the same two men started again from the balcony. This time, the singing continued even longer, until Schlesinger jumped up from his seat and shouted up to the balcony, “Show some respect to Senator Lieberman!”

The LaRouche Youth Movement is a faction of a political action committee that supports Lyndon LaRouche, a perennial presidential candidate.

The rest of the debate featured familiar discussion on the central themes of the race: the Iraq war, Social Security, terrorism and health care.

Lamont reiterated the themes in his literature and television ads, thumping Lieberman for not asking “the tough questions” before the United States invaded Iraq and repeatedly linking Lieberman with Bush.

Lieberman, in turn, reprised his campaign theme — that Lamont would not serve as a bipartisan senator and was distorting Lieberman's record.

Schlesinger jabbed the other two for their bickering and the gobs of money spent on their campaigns.

The campaign is technically a five-man race, which also includes Green Party candidate Ralph Ferrucci and Concerned Citizens Party candidate Timothy Knibbs.

On troop withdrawal from Iraq, Lieberman described the first two points of his 10-point plan for success and suggested again that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld should be removed.

Schlesinger said Iraq needs a “tri-state alternative on the table” that divides Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and that sectarian violence would then recede and U.S. troops could leave.

Schlesinger said the fight on terrorism begins with illegal immigration, which he said “spearheads” terrorism. “Joe wants to give them amnesty, and Ned wants to give 'em scholarships,” he cracked.

Schlesinger asked the two other candidates to join him for another debate, and received a nod with applause from Lamont and a small nod from Lieberman.

The debate was sponsored by The Day and the Connecticut League of Women Voters and was broadcast by WTNH News Channel 8. George Stephanopoulos of ABC News moderated.
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