Berman-Sherman Showdown In Tarzana
Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman faced off with the third leading Republican candidate, Mark Reed, Tuesday night as part of the race for the San Fernando Valley 30th congressional district seat.
Topics at the debate ranged from foreign policy- how the United States and Israel deal with Iran’s nuclear program - to domestic issues such as SOPA, legality of marijuana in Los Angeles and unemployment.
A panel of four from the Jewish Journal, which organized the debate, dedicated over half the time on the issue of Iran and Israel.
All three candidates supported tough sanctions against Iran and the threat of military action.
“Israel faces an existential threat,” Sherman said. “The reason why Israel has to think of taking military action is because the United States has been incredibly slow to apply some fear and government sanctions and still doesn’t do so today.”
Sherman said he pressed sanctions against the central bank of Iran and petroleum sales in 1998. Berman said the sanctions he wrote on Iran are working and the international community built to carry that out.
“America is the one that actually has the capacity to put together a coalition that opposes Iran having a nuclear bomb," Reed said.
Reed said that if Israel goes against Iran alone, Israel will then be singled out, creating more problems. He added that he would support Israel if they made that decision.
Some differences emerged during the discussion on domestic issues. Sherman and Berman are both co-sponsors of Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
Sherman said the bill was “not well designed” and needs “major changes."
Berman stuck to his stand on this bill, saying it’s good legislation. He criticized Sherman of changing his position because of the public outcry.
“We’re talking about property rights," Berman said. "That’s what the government is for, it’s to enforce a law. It isn’t 1,000 people yelling at me that causes me to bail out on a piece of legislation.”
Sherman accused Berman of blowing him off in January when he proposed they both sign an anti-super political action committee pledge.
“He declined on the basis that I was a stuntman and a rodeo clown," Sherman said. "Then on MSNBC he declined to sign the pledge on the theory that I was a nervous guy, then sent out a brochure saying I was gum under your shoe."
Berman still won't sign Sherman’s pledge to eliminate super PACs from their race, calling it “a gimmick.”
He said he had no control over the super PACs set up in his name.
“People have contacted me about contributing to a super PAC, none of which I started, none of which was I involved with, none of which I coordinated with," Berman said.
Sherman replied, “Howard, you can’t have your super PAC and eat it too."
Reach staff reporter Gracie Zheng here.