Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Negative Ned: The Virginia Gubernatorial Debate

I witnessed last night's debate extravaganza led by Larry Sabato between Kaine and Kilgore and, to probably no one's surprise, I think Kaine took it away. Not by as much as he apparently did in the other debates (though I only have transcripts to look at that on) but I think he did it. Here's what I have:

Kaine: Wins points for emphasizing positive record as Lieutenant Governor, paints Kilgore as an obstructionist who fought Kaine and Warner every step of the way. Also wins points for doing a decent job rebutting several of Kilgore's attacks on him related to taxes and a lot of the complete fabrications Kilgore is using as his talking points (gas tax increase and federal transportation money, both of which Kilgore has failed to produce any real evidence of at any point in the campaign). Loses points for straddling the abortion issue and trying to have it both ways, and for dealing with some of the negative aspects of his reign as Mayor of Richmond. Overall, he stayed positive. He also kept arching his eyebrow like The Rock, and I half-expected him to say during one of his rebuttals "Jerry, do you smell what the Kaine is cooking?" Sadly that moment didn't come.

Kilgore: Wins points for not seeming mentally handicapped, only rambling and fractured. He played the taxes card big, and as much as most of it is half-truths, it worked and worked. Also wins points for being on the attack against Kaine for virtually everything, from his record as a Mayor in Richmond, to how much of a "liberal" he is. Again, Jerry offers nothing more substantial than that but he repeats it so many times it's effective. He loses points for what is obviously his consuming negativity. Attack, attack, attack. He spent too much time making the case against Kaine and not enough making the case for himself. In that sense you would almost believe he was a Democrat. He also came across as a meanie on affirmative action, vague on abortion, and a gay-hater. Overall his poise was not great, as he mumbled, stumbled, and actually seemed a little effeminate in his demeanor. But again, the expectations were so in the toilet he comes out okay. He tries to copycat George W. Bush's style, but he doesn't have the articulateness and concision that Bush does (yeah, you figure out what I mean by that).

Slight advantage, Kaine. But we all know debates only make marginal differences in elections.

Other: El Wapo, Bacon's Rebellion assessment (they call a draw) and across-the-spectrum roundup. Reaction is as you expect: Democrats think Kaine triumphed, Republicans think Kilgore did okay.