Republicans seeking to unseat Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer want a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion overturned and want to see the proposed New York City mosque moved farther away from ground zero.
Republican Gary Berntsen and Jay Townsend shared many of the same positions in opposing New York's senior senator and what they called an overspending Schumer-led Congress during Monday's televised debate.
Berntsen warned "that mosque will be a magnet to some fundamentalists who will want to use it to case downtown" for further attacks. He said that although he personally opposes the project, he recognizes the Constitution protects the religious project.
Townsend said he wants the mosque project moved to another site, but opposes "using the heavy hand of government to stop it." The Conservative Party nominee said he believes the court of public opinion is working against the project.
Berntsen, the Republican Party designee, is a former CIA officer from Suffolk County's Port Jefferson. Townsend is a communications consultant from Cornwall-on-Hudson in Orange County. Each was stumped on one question: Neither was familiar with Snooki, the star of MTV's "Jersey Shore."
Economically, Townsend said he supports a tax cap, although the debate format didn't allow him to elaborate, and other measures including the repeal of the federal health care bill, rather than having government try to create jobs.
Berntsen said his economic measures would include selling milk from New York as powdered milk worldwide. He also would support natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, a massive rock formation underlying New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.
Both supported cracking down on illegal immigration and the Arizona law that is intended to do so. Berntsen gave part of his response in Spanish, one of several languages he speaks.
Both said global warming doesn't exist.
Berntsen called global warming a "charade," based on bad science.
Townsend said the scientists pushing the theory of rising global temperatures blamed on industrialization have discredited and their theory is a hoax.
Each had to be pressed, but said Sarah Palin would make a good president.
Additionally, they each said the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal should be overturned by the court.
There was no immediate comment from Schumer.
Last month, a Siena College poll showed Schumer, the two-term incumbent, with big leads over Berntsen and Townsend. In July, Schumer reported $23.8 million in campaign cash, far more than the two Republican candidates combined.
Berntsen seeks to rein in what he calls out-of-control spending in Washington, revise national security and foreign policy rather than what he said is a policy of apology and appeasement. He wrote the novel "Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden" and a policy book on counterterrorism. He runs The Berntsen Group, an investigative and security service.
Townsend said Democratic President Barack Obama is out of touch with New Yorkers. Townsend supports the tea party movement that of angry voters who want to change politics as usual and cut taxes.
Married with children, Townsend was raised on an Indiana farm, but has lived in New York for nearly 30 years. Twice in the debate he said he was raised on a farm and lived in upstate New York, giving the impression that he grew up on an upstate farm.
He founded The Townsend Group, a market research and consulting firm for business and political clients that has won three national awards for innovative advertising. He was a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate at 23 years old.