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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Deeds, McDonnell clash in testy debate

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Deeds McDonnell at DebateDebate number two between Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell is in the books and as one might expect with election day getting closer and closer, this forum provided many more fireworks than the first debate did.

Throughout the hour long event, moderated by the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory, Deeds and McDonnell both showed a willingness to go on the attack and respond forcefully when needed. They sparred over transportation, health care, energy, labor support and gay adoption.

But while there was quite a bit of discussion over heady policy issues that would make wonks very happy, there were a few key moments that have the potential to linger well past a random Thursday morning in Northern Virginia. In a debate, that few voters will watch from start to finish, I chose three different highlights that I believe have that potential.

McDonnell responds to the thesis:
There is no question that the revelation of a master thesis written close to two decades ago has been the most damaging blow to an otherwise sleek run McDonnell campaign. Today the first clear evidence that the paper is having an impact came today when Rasmussen released a poll that shows Creigh Deeds is now essentially tied with McDonnell. The paper, has basically brought this race back to an even game and how the republicans deal with it from here on out, could determine if they can hold on.

With that in mind there was no doubt political pundits were waiting on the edge of their seats to see how McDonnell would handle the thesis and how Deeds would look to capitalize.  The topic was David Gregory’s first question. You decide which candidate handled it better:

Creigh Deeds and Barack Obama
It is hard to imagine, after his overwhelming win in Virginia that Barack Obama could be a liability to the democratic nominee for Governor. And truthfully, the President of the United States is not. But while Obama continues to enjoy wide popularity in the democratic stronghold of Northern Virginia, he has become a polarizing figure in other parts of the state. Heated battles over health care and economics have hurt the President’s approval rating with motivated voters in particular.

This next section of the debate is the best demonstration of just how aware Deeds is about the view many Virginians have of the President. He refuses to call himself an “Obama Democrat”, and goes to great lengths to point out where he and Obama disagree. But the points he may have earned with independents unhappy with the President could have been eroded a bit when he admits that at least some of the opposition to Mr. Obama could be racist.

Candidate disposition
In the age of social media, much of the impression of this debate will probably be made by tweets, short YouTube clips and blog posts. Throughout the debate republicans attempted to make the case that Sen. Deeds seemed “angry”. While Deeds certainly had moments where he answered questions in a fiery way, angry might have been a stretch.

Both campaigns also posted web videos in the moments after the campaign that they claimed showed both candidates being put on the ropes by reporters. I was in both gaggles, and didn’t learn, or see, anything earth shattering.

But there is something to be said about the presence of a candidate during a debate. This clip perhaps doesn’t tell the whole story, but at least gives you an idea of how things went.

So, perhaps no “game-changers” as they say, but this debate did reveal quite a bit about both candidates. We shall see what impact it will have throughout the rest of the campaign.


Written by Ryan Nobles

September 17, 2009 at 9:30 pm

One Response

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  1. […] he has not gone out of his way to embrace him. He of course, refused to call himself an “Obama Democrat” during the second Gubernatorial debate. It was something I asked him about during our […]

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