Debate Punditry Wrap Up


: “Jerry was evasive, smarmy and evasive again. Kaine clearly had more zingers, better lines, and just plain looked more like a governor than Kilgore. … Jerry did not present a case as to why people should vote for him, instead just saying why they should NOT vote for Kaine”

Commonwealth Conservative: “Jerry Kilgore took a very big step toward being elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. … The more I reflect, the more I believe that this evening was a home run for Jerry Kilgore.”

Bearingdrift: “Win for Kaine, if he wanted Kilgore to come off as liberal. … Win for Kaine, if he wanted Kilgore to come off as negative. My final analysis, likely a win for Kilgore as he showed that he can answer the mail.”

Raising Kaine: “Kaine kicked Kilgore butt. … Besides being vague, evasive, and inaccurate, Kilgore was pretty much all negative, all the time.”

750 Volts: “Kaine kicked Kilgore butt. … Tim Kaine was the only candidate offering a positive message, as opposed to Jerry Kilgore, who wouldn’t pledge to keep half of his TV ads positive. Kilgore, dodged, bobbed and weaved.”

One Man’s Trash: “Kilgore looked stiff and uncomfortable. He fumbled and stumbled and, honestly, looked like he’d give his right arm to be somewhere else. Kaine. Good lord… what’s with that eyebrow? And the make-up… too much rouge on the cheekbones, tiger.”

Commonwealth Watch: “Neither Virginia gubernatorial candidate will win the Daniel Webster Orator of the Year Award, but tonight’s debate was decent. … I flipped between the debate and the Redskins game. … A non-event.”

Criesinthenight: “Does anyone else find Kaine’s raised eyebrow very, very annoying? … On radio Kaine would’ve carried the day, but his consistent breaking of the time limit (which clearly ticked off Sabato), eyebrow, and general body language goes against him. Victory Kilgore, but only slightly.”

Sic Semper Tyrannis: “Tim Kaine’s record is atrocious. … If Kaine cannot convince the voters that he is Mark Warner Jr., he will lose. I do not think he did an effective job of doing so tonight…. I was disappointed with [Kilgore’s] performance from a stylistic perspective. Kilgore fumbled over his words….”

Not Larry Sabato (Virginia 2005 Elections): “Totally missed the debate tonight, watching the Redskins game.”

There you have it, folks! That’s all we could find on the blogosphere early this morning. … Which makes me think, I sure miss Will Vehrs. Will, come back. The blogosphere needs you, man!

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  1. Not Guy Incognito Avatar
    Not Guy Incognito


    Most of what you quoted from me was the reaction of two non-bloggers.

    I included their thoughts because sometimes we get too wrapped up in things, and a clear perspective can be quite liberating.

    Obviously, from your wrap-up, the partisans saw this one they way they wanted to see it.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    You’ve got to wonder if it will change a thing. Low audience, probably no audience among males of peak voting age (Redskins and baseball.) No surprises — the transcript could have been written a week ago. On the Channel 12 break in the Today Show this morning they had no mention or clip from the debate, because neither side produced a compelling sound bite. Your blog comments reflect preexisting biases. The campaign “Victory” releases were pre-written. Largely a non-event, which benefits the candiate who is ahead and who has the natural advantage in the demographics. Kaine even lost the possible advantage of his “positive campaign” pledge when the first ad after the debate (in Richmond anyway) was his defensive/negative spot. Why he didn’t book the Warner spot in every market is just beyond me.

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Jim, nice to know I’m missed, even as there are scores of clamoring voices in the blogosphere eager to spin or evaluate the debate.

    I fall into the school that sees Kilgore “winning” the debate by not losing. Kilgore didn’t look comfortable and he was more scripted, but Kaine was pinned down explaining the nuances of his positions more often. Kaine never really threw Kilgore off-balance, but for the first time Kaine seemed to fluster or lose his cool ever so slightly on a couple of occasions. I think Kaine supporters expected their man to make Kilgore fall apart like a three dollar toy, but it didn’t happen.

    On strictly debate and presentation, Kaine won narrowly. I think he needed to win big.

    A couple of “lightning” observations:

    I never noticed the Kaine eyebrows! I watched the debate on a small tv in the kitchen.

    I love Larry Sabato, but he does inject himself into the debate much more than is warranted.

    The panelist questions were good–short, no speeches.

    When a candidate evades answering a question, we get all huffy. I think it’s much more useful to speculate on why the question was avoided.

    We should lose the hang-up about negative ads and especially giving Kaine credit for his “pledge.” If you’ll notice, Kaine’s negative message is much harsher than Kilgore’s–I’d take being called “too liberal” any day over being called “unfit.”

    The question about minority state contracts and the answers indicate a level of interest and a lack of practical insight that ought to be of concern.

  4. I wonder why more people aren’t talking about the “No John Kennedy” comment?

    I thought that was a very good example of Kilgore thinking on his feet and drawing from what is reportedly an encyclopedic knowledge of political history.

    I didn’t like it when Lloyd Bentson said it, and I was a little uncomfortable when Kilgore said it last night, but it definitely knocked Kaine back a step or two.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    “I wonder why more people aren’t talking about the “No John Kennedy” comment?”

    Because it was stupid. It was like that guy at a party that tells the joke everyone has heard a million times. What Kaine said about Kennedy wasn’t even something that the retort directly related to (he didn’t compare himself to the man, but rather to the problem of Catholicism in public office): Kilgore just jumped on the word Kennedy. So, a good example of thinking on his feet? Not quite.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    “If you’ll notice, Kaine’s negative message is much harsher than Kilgore’s–I’d take being called “too liberal” any day over being called “unfit.”

    Honestly, I doubt you would, considering how nasty a term “liberal” is in conservative circles. It is, after all, commonly refferred to as the depth of moral depravity, a mental disease, and so on.

    The pledge was silly in that Kaine has already spent far more on positive ad buys, and Kilgore on negative ad buys.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I recall that the blogosphere declared Kerry the winner in debates against Bush last year. This echo chamber led to the false impression that online analysis reflected the consensus of the voters. And, as we saw, that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

    Few voters in Virginia are likely to have watched the entire debate. After 15 minutes, I changed the channel, having concluded I could discern nothing new about either candidate from the sniping.

    My politically moderate mother — both of us are undecided — told a friend after seeing Kilgore’s latest animated ad against Kaine, “If I was a Republican, I would have to vote for Kaine. That ad is just awful, and there’s no excuse for that.”

    An Undecided Voter

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    I friend called me from out-of-state after seeing the debate on CSPAN and they were basically in a state of shock at the quality of the candidates – particularly Kilgore who she said looked, “more canned than SPAM”.

    In addition, she mentioned that he (Kilgore) was in such a complete state of nervousness that she almost felt sorry for him. She noted that Kaine was just as bad in terms of being canned and that he’s just a better actor.

    I agree that few voters are likely to watch the entire debate. It was overproduced and had more of a game show appearance rather than the look of a political debate.

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    >>We should lose the hang-up about negative ads and especially giving Kaine credit for his “pledge.” << Except Kaine just abondoned his pledge immediately after the cameras were off of him. “After the debate, however, Kaine said he would not include responses to Kilgore’s attack ads as negative – even if they are critical of the Republican.”

  10. criticallythinking Avatar

    A comment about Larry Sabato injecting himself. On his last question, he assumed that he, Larry Sabato, knew what the people wanted, and had the authority to order the candidates to accept his view.

    Thus he asked a question for which HE believed there was a “right” answer and a “wrong” answer.

    A good debate moderator should NEVER ask questions which are quizes. It demeans the process, and the candidates.

    A smart candidate would have slapped him down first, refusing to accept the premise of his question.

    Of course, that is somewhat what Kilgore did, by answering that he would take responsibility for his ads and run the ads he thought was necessary for the people of Virginia to get the message of this election.

    A little later, after Kaine’s answer, Larry said something like “so we have one pledge”, thus passing judgment over the answers.

    That was amateurish.

    I’m saving my substantive comment about the answers for later.

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Here is another take on the debate.,0,3841236.story?coll=dp-opinion-editorials

    My favorite passage:

    About taxes, Kilgore said, “The test is not whether you’ve cut a tax here or there, but what has happened to the overall tax burden.”

    Oh, yeah? Well, here’s a news flash: Virginia sports the lowest state tax cost to business in the United States. The income tax hasn’t been appreciably changed since the 1920s, the sales tax is grounded on economic assumptions from the 1960s, and the property tax hasn’t been reformed since Jamestown.

    Any candidate willing to summon some perspective and honesty on the subject would recognize that all the talk about tax reform a few years ago was just that: talk. The fiscal/political arrangement between Virginia state and local government, oft-examined and in supreme detail, is bereft of logic and spectacularly short on efficiency. The test for the next governor is whether he can, one, intellectually grasp the economic consequences of that reality and, two, acquire the will to do something about it.

    Both Kaine and Kilgore favor removing the remaining local property tax on cars, though Kilgore clearly believes it will be a snap. The current arrangement has a line item in the state budget to reimburse localities for more than half of the tax, so that car owners don’t have to pay it. That costs Virginia about a billion dollars a year, and to remove the remaining portion will cost a billion more.

    How does that commitment fit in with other state priorities, including the costs of fully funding the state pension system, meeting state educational standards, putting two new prisons online, covering the rising cost of nursing-home care through Medicaid and holding down tuition costs at state-supported colleges and universities?

    Answer: It doesn’t. It’s fairyland finances, a trip through the lush meadows of “promise ’em anything if it gets you elected.” Only Potts, the state senator from Winchester running as an independent but prevented by the sponsors from participating in Sunday’s debate, keeps budget talk grounded in reality.

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