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October 09, 2005

Tonight's gubernatorial debate

Since the Redskins/Broncos game ran late tonight, I did not get to see the entire debate, catching only the last ten minutes. Chad and Norman have already posted their thoughts, and I have to say, from what little I saw, I agree with both of them.
Kaine was savage -- you're not fit to be governor, Jerry. Kilgore was biting -- cesspool! cesspool!
Norman's analysis of the atmosphere seemed dead on. Both candidates were hitting hard, even though this is hardly a shift from the past few months. Though Tim Kaine pledged to keep at least half of his ads positive (admittedly, Jerry Kilgore did waffle on this question), I seriously suspect that we have not even seen the harshest criticisms yet.
In retrospect, Kilgore really did succeed in drawing contrasts between himself and Kaine. Kilgore kept highlighting his own record, his own achievements, and his own proposals…and he pointed out that Kaine’s record is so abysmal that he wants to run on Gov. Warner’s record.
While I am not a huge fan of negative politics, Kaine has been a rather easy target the past few months and Kilgore appeared to jump on it tonight. One might be able to argue that Kaine won tonight (contrary to what Chad said, but again, he did see more of the debate than I), but probably not by much, and even in the win, Kaine could take a lot of damage from this debate should much of the Commonwealth watched tonight.

But Norman did note one more thing from tonight's debate.
But the only clear-cut winner on all counts tonight was Larry Sabato. He was the star, he got the best lines and he was clearly enjoying the attention. He got his show on in spite of the antics of Russ Potts and was able to reassert his dominance as Virginia's supreme political pundit.
I took Larry Sabato's politics course here at the University of Virginia some time ago, and to say I am surprised would be a flat-out lie. I did enjoy Sabato's course, and felt he was very knowledgable about what he taught us, but it does not take a genius to notice that he is very aware of his status as a celebrity (of sorts). While I will not fault Larry Sabato for seeking unity in the Commonwealth and the United States, it is hard to see his moderation of the debate as anything other than grandstanding. I do not think this will affect the outcome of the election, but then again, the distraction of the "lightning round" might not secure any swing-voters.