Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes, a Greenwich Democrat, and his Republican challenger, State Representative John Shaban of Redding, clashed over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal Monday night at the World Affairs Forum debate in Stamford.
Shaban criticized Himes for voting earlier this year to give President Obama fast track authority to negotiate TPP.
“I appreciate the fact that you’ve backed away from initially saying, 'I think I’m going to support this because the president asked me to do it,'” Shaban said.
“I never said that,” Himes interjected.
“If you didn’t, then I apologize because that’s what I read. What I do know is that the Sierra Club and the AFL-CIO disagree with everything you just said. And you can go on their websites and check it out,” Shaban said.
Himes responded that he hasn’t made up his mind on TPP.
“John is right. The Sierra Club, which has always endorsed me and has endorsed me again, opposes this deal. The World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Rainforest Alliance, the Joint Ocean Committee have all endorsed it. And I say that not to win this argument. I just say that because it’s important as we consider this. As I’m considering it. I never said I was for it. It’s important that we realize that this is a very complicated thing,” Himes said.
The candidates also disagreed over Hillary Clinton’s plan for Syria, with Shaban supporting Clinton’s call for a no-fly zone.
“I’m about to agree with Secretary Clinton. I think we can establish safe zones and no-fly zones in Syria, and I think we should try. Because in the absence of doing something, guess what happens, nothing,” Shaban said.
Himes thinks it’s a bad idea.
“A no-fly zone, make no mistake, means going to war with Syria. We must take out their very up-to-date, very modern, anti-aircraft weaponry supplied by the Russians. We have to take that out. there will be a lot of dead Syrians and some dead Russians.”
Himes says that might lead to war with Russia.
Himes is running for a fourth term in Congress. He’s raised about $2.2 million for the race. Shaban’s campaign is reported to have only about $40,000 on hand.