Fossella Speaks


I just got off the phone with Rep. Vito Fossella, who seems to be cruising to re-election over cash-poor Democratic challenger Stephen Harrison.

As such, he’s sticking to the basic safe-GOP-incumbent-campaign template, saying that his number one issue is security against terrorism. (For the record, he supports the Patriot Act and the White House’s electronic surveillance program, although he seemed to deviate somewhat from the administration’s line on interrogation of detainees.)

Fossella kind of ducked a question about whether America would actually be less safe if the Democrats take over Congress.

Same thing on a question about whether the heads of the police and fire unions are justified in their criticisms of Rudy Giuliani.

(“This race isn’t about Rudy Giuliani,” he said, noting also that more than a few of his constituents are cops and firefighters.)

And, for that matter, on a question about why he’s not identified on any of his campaign literature as a Republican.

(“All I can say is I’ve been an independent fighter, putting the people first.”)

As for the Mark Foley page scandal and how the House Republican leadership has handled it, Fossella is not calling for any resignations. Yet.

“Who knows what the facts are? I know I don’t know what the facts are. There’s a lot of speculation about who knew what and where and when. But let the investigation play out…I’d be curious to know who sat on this information and let the chips fall where they may. Let’s see where that leads us.”

Luckily, there will be plenty of opportunities to hear more about all of this when Fossella and Harrison meet up for their five — yes, five — debates between now and Nov. 7.

“How many debates were there for the mayor’s race?” Fossella asked at one point. “One, two?”

Quite right.

For those of you who just can’t wait, an audio clip of the 20-minute interview is here.

— Azi Paybarah

Fossella Speaks