Inexplicable Debate Dodge

I am totally dumbfounded by today’s Tyler Whitley story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Kilgore refuses to debate Potts.” I guess the Kilgore campaign knows what it is doing, but it’s hard for me to understand why they were willing to revive the debate ducking charge, the performance anxiety issue, and give more free publicity to Russ Potts.

As Barnie Day has pointed out, this is a three way race now. It only takes 34% to win. Why Kilgore won’t honor the widely accepted 15% threshold for third party participation in debates is beyond me. Potts isn’t near that number now, but the Kilgore position, plus all the recent fawning press Potts has received, might get him there … and beyond.

The first step out of the gate after the primary does not appear to be a sure-footed one.

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  1. Laszlo Avatar

    That just cost Kilgore the election.

  2. Joe Freeman Avatar
    Joe Freeman

    At least Kilgore recognizes that he is going to have little to say that hasn’t already been scripted. No point in being thrown “off message,” especially in venues where the message might get smacked around a little.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    I actually wish they would let Potts in the debates. It would make clear to the voting public the nut that he is.

  4. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    I could argue either side of this (OK, I’m a lawyer, so I could argue either side of anything), but I don’t see why Jerry Kilgore should give Russ Potts respectability by standing on the same stage with him. And why should he let Potts and Kaine gang up on him.

    And cost Kilgore the election? Not hardly.

  5. I feel compelled to note that this will take much more than 34% to win. I know Barnie keeps repeating that, but that presupposes Potts and Kaine getting 33%.

    Potts won’t reach double figures. I think saying it will take 46% to win is more accurate, but for all practical purposes, the campaigns have to treat it like any other campaign: 50% plus one to win.

    That said, I can’t understand allowing this debate nonsense to become a story. I hope you’re right that the Kilgore campaign knows what they are doing. They’ve got a great group of brilliant political minds over there, and they know more about politics than me. But I don’t get it.

    Why allow these debate negotiations to become public? Why not just say that we’re negotiating terms, and nothing is off the table yet?

  6. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Just an “amen” to John Behan’s last comment. Barnie’s number presupposes not just a split, but a fractured, electorate, and there is little evidence that the Virginia electorate is fractured in that manner. Furthermore, it presupposes a rather equal split.

    I strongly suspect that the Chamber Potts factor will be largely limited to self-loathing Republicans who are really Democrats, and Democrats. It’s just a feeling, but I think he’ll draw miniscule numbers from both Kilgore and Kaine.

  7. Sorrel Avatar

    I don’t really see any reason for either candidate to let Potts on the stage. the course Potts chose was to take a snooze on the process within his own party. I assume he did that because he was certain that his views, however sensible they might be (for purposes of argument), simply would not fly within the party as currently configured. He’s almost certainly correct. But if he cares about how Republicans approach these issues, he had an obligation to take his lumps in the process and perhaps incrementally advance his notions (as did Fitch and Connaughton). If Kaine and Kilgore (and it certainly should be joint decision of the two standard-bearers, not just Kilgore’s) agreed to let him in as an equal partner, it would encourage every weak candidate to avoid the party process. It may be that Kilgore didn’t handle the query deftly, but the substance of the response is rational.

    By the way, I find it contradictory that, despite the brave talk from this side of the aisle (GOP/conservative) that Potts will definitely hurt Kaine, there is so much aversion and nastiness around the very mention of his name. It seems clear that there is a widespread concern among us that Potts is a threat Kilgore. I’m not there yet, but the ugly talk seems to betray that fear. Will Potts play Perot? If he’s talking utter nonsense, therre’s nothing to worry about. I sense more than a few of us suspect he’ll throw sand in the gears of the vapid slogan game that a lot of us prefer to see played.

  8. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Sorrel, I have tried to be more satirical than anything else in approaching Potts. I hope you do not believe I have been nasty.

    My major concern has been Potts’ elevation by the media without very much to justify it. What were his legislative achievements in the Senate? Why does he get media huzzahs for sound bytes like “no free lunch” while Kaine and Kilgore gets shrugs for their substantive proposals?

    I don’t fear any candidate. Whoever wins, wins for a reason.

  9. Sorrel Avatar

    No, Will, not at all. You’re a model of courtesy and careful analysis. I was referring generally to the tone and content of a lot of the stuff that gets thrown around in the comment sections. It was a little afield of your point in any event.

  10. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    Will Vehrs, to answer your questions, (1) none that I’ve heard of, and (2) he gets media attention for the same reason that someone like McCain, John Anderson (remember him?), and Connaughton get attention: they challenge the dominant ethos of the dominant political party, one despised by the media. Sad to say, I don’t think that it’s any more complicated than that. Anyone willing to piddle in the GOP’s Wheaties is guaranteed their 15 minutes.

  11. “They’ve got a great group of brilliant political minds over there, and they know more about politics than me.”

    Not sure I am with you on this one.

  12. Not Mark Rozell Avatar
    Not Mark Rozell

    Will, I have to agree with you. From the start this election has been Kilgore’s to lose, and he’s been doing his best.

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