i'm back from the waikato times candidates meeting tonight. the paper organises these every campaign - one for ham east, one for ham west and this year they're doing one for the maori electorate (hauraki waikato). tonight was the ham east campaign, and a lively affair it was too.
the most interesting part of the debate for me was a question on how the MP candidates voted on raising the drinking age and on trading on easter sundays. sue moroney voted for raising the drinking age, and against trading on easter sundays. david bennett voted the opposite way on both those issues. that sure didn't go down well with the group of exclusive brethren who were present.
yes, they were there. they had brought a group of young women, who happened to be scarfless. however, they were a bit subdued with the above response and when national didn't promise to repeal the emissions trading scheme and they were really subdued when the kiwi party candidate spoke strongly in support of honoring the treaty of waitangi.
in any case, these meetings are pretty much a waste of time in terms of convincing voters, because i don't think any undecided voters attend them. but as with the tv debates, it's the reporting afterwards that makes the difference, and i hope that the local paper gives an honest report of how the candidates performed. because if they do, there is no doubt that sue moroney out-performed the others.
a bigger issue for me today has been the words of colin powell, as he spoke in support of senator obama (full transcript of the interview here). they touched me to the core:
I'm also troubled by, not what Sen. McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said such things as: "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is: he is not a Muslim. He's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is: What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is: No, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she can be President? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion: he's a Muslim, and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
finally, someone in america, a very significant and republicans someone, has come out and given the message that i thought mr obama should have been giving. reading this made me feel like maybe this is the beginning of the end for the kind of severe muslim-bashing that has been happening since 9/11. also worth watching is this video of bigoted campaigners being by christian and muslim republicans (link found from comments in the shakesville thread).
mr powell's words will have an impact, simply because of the positions he has held and the respect he commands. i hope the impact is lasting.