Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't talk down to me...

Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore debated the economic rescue plan, earmarks, partisanship, and their respective records as governor in a televised debate in Roanoke. Gilmore, trailing by over 25% in the polls and facing a huge fundraising disadvantage took a populist stance on the bailout which had passed Congress and signed by the president earlier in the day. Gilmore was also testy and attacking Warner at every opportunity.
Warner, who is generally considered one of Virginia's most successful modern governors, would have none of it. He reminded viewers of the financial mess that Gilmore left the state in when leaving office. Gilmore fired back, "I object to that characterization...." 
Later, when Gilmore's answers showed a lack of knowledge about the current financial mess, Warner said, "I don't know if Governor Gilmore understands."
Firing back, Gilmore almost shouted, "Don't talk down to me..."
It was inevitable that Gilmore would take a slash and burn approach in the only televised debate between the candidates. With Warner picking up endorsements from Republicans and apparently getting support from almost 25% of GOP voters, Gilmore had no options. He had to shake up the Republican base to generate enthusiasm and some money for his fumbling campaign.
Did the debate do what Gilmore wanted and needed. Not in a country mile. Warner came across as informed and reasonable and as a centrist who will find bipartisan ways to solve problems. Gilmore seemed desperate and mean spirited (judging from his time as governor, this is a character trait). He may have fired up his base to send donations, but he probably alienated independents and moderate Republicans.
The race may tighten over the next month, but Warner will have an easy double digit win on November 4. It will be a landslide. Hopefully, Warner's long coattails will translate into votes for Barack Obama, Sam Rasoul and other Democratic congressional candidates.
More on the debate at The Roanoke Times.

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