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The Lawn Guyland Debate


At last week’s town-hall debate at Hofstra University, Long Island was somewhat improbably cast in the role of “Real America.” Here, eight audience members field a few questions of their own.

Was it just us, or did the Long Island flavor of this debate really come through?

Jeremy Epstein
(Asked first question, about postgraduation job prospects)
“Well, when Obama mentioned Nassau County Community College, I felt very Long Island. The reactions of the crowd—people were laughing and cheering—I felt like that would happen only in New York. New Yorkers are very outward with their emotions; they don’t hold anything in. They really wanna elect somebody who is going to be passionate.”

When was the last time you remember a presidential candidate caring about Long Island?

Carol Goldberg
(Asked about keeping jobs in the United States)
“You know, that’s a tough question. I don’t ever feel that they don’t not care.”

Katherine Fenton
(asked about pay equality; inadvertently sparked “binders full of women” meme)
“Specifically caring about Long Island doesn’t come to mind. Maybe at, like, a Hamptons event?”

Do you think the presidential debates would be better if Long Islanders always got to write and ask the questions?

Tom Suozzi
(Former Nassau County executive; did not ask a question)
“You know, Nassau County is considered one of the nation’s first suburbs. It’s very much a middle-class-type place. Suburbia is the majority of America, so I think it is important and helpful that debates focus on the suburban mind-set, and Long Island is a very good place to get a sense of that mind-set.”

Raina Hodge
(Hofstra undergrad; did not ask a question)
“Heck no. Some of those questions were like, “That’s what you chose?” Like, really? The one guy who got up and said, “Obama, I voted for you in 2008, and now it’s 2012, and I just don’t know if I should vote again.” That one just irked me. Your wife, or somebody, should have helped you rewrite that before you got up and said it.”

Considering that New York is not a swing state, why put so much energy into deciding whom you’re going to vote for? Why vote at all?

Phillip Tricolla
(Asked about gas prices)
“Even if you think your candidate has no chance, I still think it matters. Because at the end of the day, you know what? It’s a protest vote. Every vote means something. You’re sending out a message—it’s your right! You know?”

Kerry Ladka
(Member of the “brain trust” at Global Telecom Supply in Mineola; asked about the Benghazi attack)
“No, it may not [matter], but I’m still going to vote! I still haven’t made up my mind. But if I go in my voting booth … and my vote does not change the outcome, well, I did my job and expressed my opinion. You know?”

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