Perino and Frank talk Israel, 2016 election in Only at GW debate

Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary, debated former Congressman Barney Frank in the Only at GW Debate Sunday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer
Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary, debated former Congressman Barney Frank in the Only at GW Debate Sunday. Jordan McDonald | Hatchet Photographer

Updated Mon. March 23, 2015 at 3:09 p.m.

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Ben Marchiony.

Barney Frank and Dana Perino squared off at the Only at GW debate Sunday, hosted by the College Democrats, College Republicans and Program Board.

Frank, a former Democratic congressman, is widely known as the first member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, and is also known for his landmark bill, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dana Perino, George W. Bush’s former press secretary, is currently a commentator for Fox News and was the second female White House press secretary.

Alex Rogers, a political reporter from Time Magazine, moderated the debate.

Didn’t score a ticket? Here are the three biggest takeaways from the event, hosted in the Jack Morton Auditorium:

1. How the U.S. will deal with Iran and Israel

Frank said that Israel isn’t in danger of losing support from the Democratic party, but Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister who was re-elected last week, is. He said that to be Israel’s friend, the U.S. has to show  support by ensuring they do what’s right, and supporting a two-state solution.

“I, as a long time supporter of Israel, am very troubled by Netanyahu’s mistakes. Israel is in danger of losing support in much of the world. It’s the role of America, as a friend of Israel, to make clear what’s in Israel’s best interests,” Frank said.

Rogers asked Perino about what she thought of Netanyahu’s comments on the two-state solution, and how willing she thought the Obama administration was to protect Israel internationally.

“We care about an Israel that’s safe, prosperous economies for surrounding nations, freedoms for women and gays, education, in particular, for girls. Israel can be a real force for change, in that regard,” Perino said.

2. Thoughts on 2016

Both candidates shared their thoughts on the upcoming presidential election in 2016, giving their take on potential candidates.

Perino was asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tx., chances of running for president in the next election cycle, and she said that it’s early in the process to judge who will be the final candidates.

“At this point in the election cycle in 2008, conventional wisdom was that the two nominees were going to be Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani,” she said. “A good, robust, competitive primary can be a very good thing for the system,” she said.

Cruz announced on Twitter Monday that he was running for President.

Frank said Democrats haven’t had a “real contest” for their presidential nominee “out of respect” for Clinton.

“There haven’t been the real issues that generate a large primary operation,” Frank said.

Perino said that Clinton, the former Secretary of State, is being pushed to formalize her campaign and that she has “uncontrolled enthusiasm” from voters.

“I tend to look at these things from a media standpoint and a PR standpoint, there’s been a lack of enthusiasm not from the Democratic party, but from the media,” Perino said

3. A conversation with the audience

Audience members submitted questions for the debate, and Frank and Perino were asked about how they got into politics and what advice they would give to someone who wants to work in the field.

Perino said she started out answering phones for a congressman from Colorado, and eventually became his press secretary. She said the key to entering the field is is networking.

“My dad made me read the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News every day, and I would pick up two articles to discuss with him over dinner,” she said.

Frank also spoke about his early love for politics.

“When I was 14, I was a pretty normal teenager, but there were two things that set me apart from the other guys. One, I was attracted to politics. The other one was that I was attracted to the other guys,” he said. “I knew this was going to be a problem, because being a homosexual wasn’t very popular in 1964. I didn’t decide to be a member of a despised minority, so for me it was about working this out.”

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