AR-Sen: Halter Wins First Bout (on points)

23 Apr

Well, we finally got see the two foes in the most hotly contested political race in this state in years square off tonight, and this one went the full twelve rounds with both fighters swinging until the final bell. Had some mysterious olde man who had seemingly wandered into the wrong event not stood between them all night, one can’t help but wonder how much more contentious things between Bailout Blanche and Dolla Dolla Bill Y’all might have become had the barbs been flying from a close proximity. Here are some initial reactions to the efforts put forth by the three senate candidates tonight:

HALTER:

(+) Constantly touting his personal achievements, particularly within the Clinton administration, and effectively countering Blanche’s recent attacks on those achievements and her claim to the Clinton years.

(+) Contrasting his ideas and statements with Mrs. Lincoln’s claims throughout–offering a clear choice between two very different political styles.

(+) Was excellent in holding Mrs. Lincoln accountable on her flip-flopping on health care reform, especially her ridiculous contradictory claims of “standing up against the president and voting against the public option” in her first television ad, then turning around and running ads on African-American radio stations stating how she was “proud to stand with the president on health care.” It was pretty hard to sit there and watch her so calmly talk about touting all the good the health care bill will be for Arkansas after hearing her rhetoric the past few months–Mr. Halter took her to task on this issue, and was able to tout his free clinic day at the same time. Great stuff.

(+) Excellent counters to Blanche’s claims that he is the mudslinger in this campaign, including citing specific commentaries on just how negative her smear campaign against him has been.

(+) Hit Blanche well on being “part of the problem” in Washington, particularly in the wake of the fall of Wall Street and the bailouts that followed.

(+) Great job at showing he is a Results Candidate. For years, elected officials here discussed ways to improve educational funding for public schools and make college more affordable–Mr. Halter came into what most saw as an inconsequential office (Lt. Gov.) with a pledge to get the lottery started and was able to get the job done quickly, benefiting our children and this state and not wasting time talking the thing to death. Well done.

(-) Though very articulate, still can improve in making his presentation be just as effective as his ideas. Blanche was extremely comfortable all night, Bill was a little too rehearsed at times and it was clear which candidate had made a career of speaking in these sorts of formats.

(-) Could have had a much stronger answer on the social security questions posed by Cantonese–it should have been right in his wheelhouse with his years of service in this area, and he struggled initially with his response (though quickly recovered) and left the door open for Blanche to attack him on this issue.

LINCOLN:

(+) As I alluded to already, she was in rare form on the stage and turned in a solid performance (though one that most senators who have served for nearly 20 years should be able to turn in). Very calm, cool, and collected for most of the night.

(+) Nice counters to Halter’s talk of his work with Bill Clinton. Obviously, all Arkie Dems try and claim that mantle.

(+) Very good answer on social security, particularly the point that had Bush’s push to privatize the system been successful, the system would have been destroyed just a couple of years later in the wake of the stock market and economic collapse.

(-) “Calm, cool, and collected” isn’t such a great thing when one is not being completely honest and forthright. Mrs. Lincoln has been so loud in her opposition to health care, that seeing her smile and tout her work with the president in this area had to make a lot of people see her as just another politician willing to say anything to win (and having no qualms about it).

(-) Her attempts to pain the Halter campaign as the ones being negative failed miserably, especially when Mr. Halter said “please stop calling me Dollar Bill.”  Her line about him bringing back his “positive campaign” was very arrogant and smug considering he had just cited specific examples of her campaign’s smear jobs on him.

(-) Position on Employee Free Choice Act: FAIL.

(-) Touting her “Blue Dog” status after consistently voting for Bush tax cuts and out-of-control spending: FAIL.

(-) Closing remarks were over-the-top cheesy and did not seem authentic at all.

MORRISON:

(+) No real James Stockdale or Mike Gravel moments (like I had hoped for.)

(+) Made decent points about system being tainted when only “big money people” have a shot. I think we’d all like to see a little more direct democracy, though we also understand the interests involved and what it takes to get a message out there for public consumption.

(-) Had a fly land on his head, swatted and missed, hit his microphone, got laughed at.

(-) Incoherent on health care reform opposition.

(-) I think he concluded by saying Blanche needs to die so she’ll leave office.

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