By Jeff Mays
HELL'S KITCHEN — Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel and Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV were at each other's throats again at a debate Thursday night, but this time the other candidates in the race for the 15th Congressional district seat said they were sick of the bickering.
Debate moderator Jane Colvin had to step in on more than one occasion to quiet Powell and Rangel as the six Democratic candidates at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters laid out their positions on everything from the Bush tax cuts to the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
"I don't want to debate you," Rangel told Powell at one point during one of their many entanglements.
But Powell kept at it. When asked a question about the Afghanistan War, Powell jumped on Rangel for comparing Obama to former vice president Dick Cheney.
“Mr. Rangel, even if the war is about oil it is not an opportunity to disrespect our President Barack Obama or even compare him to Dick Cheney," said Powell.
And when Rangel said Obama was lacking support for his financial reforms from Democrats and Republicans, Powell struck again.
“It’s odd to hear you say Democrats are not supportive of the president in light of the comments you’ve made about President Obama,” Powell said.
Candidate Vince Morgan, a community banker, said he was fed up with the seeming two-party nature of the race for Harlem's congressional seat.
"The media has determined that this is a race between Adam Clayton Powell and Charlie Rangel," said Morgan. "We need some leadership that's going to stop talking about themselves and stop bickering on stage and talk about some issues that are important to the people of the district."
Candidate Joyce Johnson also chided Powell.
"He does that everywhere we go," she said of Powell's relentless attacks on Rangel. "This is not going to be a rematch between Powell and Rangel."
For his part, Tasini said he was tired of hearing about Rangel's ethics problems.
"I'm not just running on his ethics issues. I'm running on a much bigger platform," said Tasini. "I'm sick of only talking about the ethical issues."
Powell, after the debate, said that he will continue to duke it out with Rangel.
"We've got to turn the page Charlie. Turn the page," Powell said as the candidates shook hands after the forum.
"I don't understand why people want to dance with him when if you look up the definition of corrupt, you'll know what I mean," said Powell.
Rangel, meanwhile, was met outside of the studio by a dozen supporters chanting: "Fired up. Ready to vote!"
A truck plastered with his campaign posters played music as he sped off in his chauffeured town car.