MONTVILLE, NJ – Former Township Committee Member Dan Grant and State Senator Joseph Pennacchio (R-26) represented the candidates for president at a mock debate held at the Montville Area Tea Party meeting held on Oct. 27.

Pennacchio opened, representing Republican candidate Donald Trump, and said that this election will represent a turning point in American history.

Pennacchio said this election is about a movement: the populists vs. the elitists.

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“The movement demands that we return government back to ‘we, the people,’” he said.

He spoke of putting American interests first, “securing our waters,” and making no more “lousy trade deals.” He also said that the movement wants our allies to “step up, and pay up.”

Pennacchio accused Hillary Clinton of not putting America’s interests first or securing the borders. He said this will destroy our economy.

“The worst thing is, she doesn’t believe in ‘We the People,’” Pennacchio said.

He said Clinton believes in cradle-to-grave government and giving someone else the bill.

“If we elect Donald Trump, we will make America safe, competitive, and great again,” Pennacchio said.

Grant spoke next representing Hillary Clinton. He said Clinton had distinguished herself starting from when she was First Lady of Arkansas, then First Lady of the U.S., and she had accomplished a lot during two terms as a New York State Senator.

“From my perspective, Hillary Clinton has real programs,” Grant said. “Her website has [plans] for every issue that we face.”

The first few questions revolved around the economy.

“People are saying that Clinton’s will be a ‘third Obama administration,’ but I don’t think Obama has done particularly bad,” Grant said. “We are now at double the stock market, and unemployment is very low, although I know there’s disagreement about that.”

Grant said Trump really doesn’t have any programs and isn’t particularly well liked, even in the Republican party, and his whole thrust is to make Clinton more unlikable than him so he can beat her.

“I think she has some real programs with tax reform,” Grant said. “There’s an unfair tax system. A whole bunch of people get away with paying very little taxes, while the middle class is always locked in to a certain percentage that’s too high. She has complete proposals on meaningful tax reform.”

Pennacchio said that the country’s debt exists because the economy is still not growing.

“Our gross domestic national product is 1.6%, the same as Chile and Belgium,” said Pennacchio. “Germany’s grows at twice ours, and China’s grows at 7%. If ours grew at that rate, we would take in a lot more money, a lot more people would work, and a lot more of our tax coffers would be filled.”

Pennacchio blamed the slow rate of growth on labor participation, which he said is an outgrowth of Obamacare. When more than 50 people in a company work more than 30 hours, an employer must provide healthcare, Pennacchio said. Therefore employers either pay the fine or hire fewer people, he said.

“That’s not the right way to do it,” he said.

Pennacchio said Trump’s website says Trump will lower personal income tax 35%, and lower the corporate tax rate as well.

The “candidates” were asked about ISIS and “Grant/Clinton” responded first. He said it’s a matter of intensifying a coalition of air campaigns against ISIS fighters. He said a decision needs to be made to either put troops on the ground or fight in some other way, but he didn’t think a ground war would be supported by most Americans.

Grant said Trump wants to ban all Muslims, but Obama thinks it’s a mistake to alienate those Muslims who vote in America, since they can help with information and fight with us on the ground. He said he thought Clinton agrees. Grant said putting troops in the Middle East to try to calm the situation is a “nightmare,” and a “waste of resources.”

Pennacchio said judgment is the most important thing a leader should have, and when the “3 a.m. phone call comes, you should be prepared to handle that situation.” He said Clinton failed, over and over.

Pennacchio said Clinton failed to secure the Benghazi compound and lied regarding the cause of the attack. Pennacchio said Clinton “went along with Obama with the line in the sand in Iraq, which exploded.” Pennacchio said Clinton went along with Morsi in Egypt, but Sisi threw him out, thus preventing radical Islamists from taking over the region. He also said she supported “the infamous Iran deal, and we know some of that $150 billion is going to wind up going into terrorists’ hands.”

“That is the judgment that you’re going to get if you put Hillary Clinton in the White House,” Pennacchio said.

With regard to the Affordable Care Act, Grant said Clinton has said there are good parts to the act, but it needs fixing. Positive parts include children staying on the plan until age 26, and pre-existing conditions being covered, Grant said. He said healthcare has been a nightmare for decades.

Pennacchio said Trump will repeal Obamacare and replace it. Trump will “deal with” pre-existing conditions clauses and children staying on the plan until age 26, Pennacchio said.

“The dirty secret with the millions covered under Obamacare is that 71% of those covered are part of Medicaid,” Pennacchio said. “The federal government pays for half, and the state pays the other half. Who pays for the federal government? You. Who pays for the state government? You. The remaining 29% gets a subsidy from the federal government. Who pays for the federal government? The tax-payer. You are paying, one way or another.”

Pennacchio said competition among insurance companies and tort reform would help lower costs and he said Trump has called for both. Pennacchio said Trump has called Obamacare a jobs-killer and economy-killer.

In closing, Grant said, “I see a woman who has spent the better part of her life working for the betterment of children, families, trying to provide more to families, and trying to help her country. You can agree or disagree on some of the foreign policy issues but when I got done listening to Petraeus, who probably knows as much about the Middle East as anybody, the idea that Trump knows more than the generals, it makes up my mind. I’m not going to let [Trump] be in charge of our military capacity in any way. He said he would start off firing half the generals. I don’t know that he has the authority to do that.

“When I hear statements like ‘Hillary is going to take your guns,’ well, that’s an amendment to the Constitution and it requires certain actions that the President cannot do. I think she’s going to win and we’re going to be a better country as a result of it,” he said.

Pennacchio started off his closing comments saying, “character counts.”

He said last year he read at Cedar Hill Elementary School and a little girl asked him the most important thing that he does. He told her, “you have to be honest to the people you serve.”

“The more I think of it, especially in the context of this election, the more profound I think that answer really was,” Pennacchio said. “If you think of it, if you’re not honest with the people you serve, nothing that comes out of your mouth, whether it’s words or public policy, is believable.

“Hillary Clinton has an aversion to the truth. She lied about Benghazi, […] about her emails […] and continues to lie to the American people today, putting our national security at risk,” he said.

Pennacchio said Clinton also lied about her husband’s speech fees representing access to her, her wealth, and her health.