The Massachusetts 4th Congressional District candidates forum at Wellesley College ran smoothly. The candidates, Republican Sean Bielat and Democrat Joseph Kennedy, were cordial with one another and the audience was for the most part very respectful.
That is until one audience member asked the final question in the town hall format. Royall H. Switzler, a Wellesley realtor and formerly a top member of the Republican Party in Massachusetts, asked a question directed at Kennedy:
“About 50 years ago, in a campaign in Massachusetts, a candidate asked another candidate the question, ‘If your name were Edward Moore, would this campaign and your candidacy be a joke?’” Switzler said, reading from prepared notes.
“I ask the question,” he continued, “If your name were Joseph Patrick and not Joseph Patrick Kennedy…would your campaign be a joke?”
Kennedy responded directly by saying, “Sir, I am very proud of my record of public service,” which drew loud cheers and applause from the audience.
While anything is possible at a debate of this type, do you think Switzler’s question was over the line or is there room for these types of barbs at any open forum?