AR-Sen: “I don’t think middle-class Arkansans are feeling too spoiled right now.”

14 May

The BHR team was in attendance at today’s AR Political Animals Club/Clinton School-sponsored senatorial debate, as were a whole lot of other excited political junkie types. What we saw today was similar to what we have seen in the previous Halter v. Lincoln (v. That Other Guy) tilts — Halter came out aggressive, full of specifics, and completely addressed the questions asked of him. Lincoln, meanwhile, remained most comfortable in her senate-floor-style oratory, and she tried to skirt specifics on some of the more controversial (absurd?) positions she’s taken as our voice in D.C.

I must say that this performance was easily the best one of the bunch for our Lt. Gov., and we have witnessed him hit his stride in the past 2-3 weeks on the campaign trail. Halter is clearly more able now to connect with average voters in a way that maybe he could not in the past, and he also provides the meaningful soundbites (note: not just talking points) that we media types crave to make our stories a tad more interesting. He can now maneuver back and forth between complex policy issues — which are often hard for many average voters to follow at times — and bold statements that will stick with every person when he or she leaves the room, no matter which way they plan to vote. Yes, he’s now not only the smartest guy in the room on policy, he’s finally been able to tap into a little of that Bill Clinton-style empathy that so many around here seem to suggest he lacks:

Believe me, the hits coming at me now [from Senator Lincoln and the outside groups funding her negative campaign ads] are nothing like the hits coming at middle-class Arkansans every day.

Sound familiar? You gotta love it.

Here are your BHR quick hits following today’s debate:

  • [Paraphrased] Line of the Debate:

    Barnes: Are Americans spoiled? Do we take too much for granted? Is it time for our government to ask for real sacrifices out of our citizens?

    Halter: I don’t think middle-class Arkansans that are struggling just to make ends meet are feeling too spoiled right now.

  • Halter: I issued a direct challenge to Senator Lincoln to return the campaign donations she received from Goldman Sachs following the federal government investigation that was recently launched against them — she returned a portion of it. Now there are 8 new banks under investigation by the New York Attorney General. I am calling on Senator Lincoln to return the some $125,000 in campaign donations from those banks as well.

    Lincoln: [crickets chirping]

  • Lincoln said she supports mandatory public service for our young people fresh out of high school; Halter said that he favors an incentive-based public service programs where young people can receive college tuition or other educational discounts as a reward for serving their state/country.
  • Re: Social Security. Though she’s attacked Halter on this issue, saying he would cut guaranteed benefits as part of his cost-saving measures, Lincoln said that social security reform has to be on the table as part of overall deficit reduction. Halter called her out on attacking him, when she was basically stating the same position (i.e., everything must be looked at.)
  • Lincoln again absurdly asserted that she has “not run a negative campaign” and actually claimed that she’s “elevated the debate.” Halter pointed out several specific examples of her campaign’s direct involvement in smears against him, including recent negative mailers, television ads, and the website that “showed a picture of our state’s Lt. Gov. on a prescription pill bottle.”
  • I know there are others out there writing about James Stockdale Mike Gravel The White Crusty Al Sharpton That Other Guy’s one-liners and quips being funny, or that they “kept the crowd happy,” but I completely disagree and think his presence on that stage was a complete disservice to those of us who care about this race and the issues being discussed and were willing to take an extra hour on our lunch breaks to come down there.It seemed like there were several moments where Halter pressed Lincoln firmly on something — something that may actually (finally) net a real response — but, instead of an immediate response from Lincoln, we were forced to listen to That Other Guy next, hear him rattle on about silly conservative ideas like the flat tax for a couple of minutes, have all the wind sucked out of the room as the audience laughed/rolled their eyes/checked their phones. That Other Guy’s presence, in short, made it so that we never get the mano-a-mano combat we all wanted to see.I guess That Other Guy polls high enough to merit an invite by DPA standards or something, though, without checking, I sure do hope there’s a minimum threshold for such important positions.
  • Previous point said, those other writers also all seem to have came away with the same impression that my BHR colleague and I left with: Halter won this thing, hands down. He also seemed to have the enthusiasm and momentum clearly on his side, despite any recent polls. More from Max:

    Dozens of working men and women waved signs and wore stickers for Halter outside the hall. It took a hurryup call for the Lincoln campaign to muster a few counter-demonstrators.

    We barely noticed those hurryuppers, either.

  • Final instant-reaction point: Lincoln touted her “tough” derivative reform bill roughly 1,445 times (estimate) during the debate, even going so far as to say it is “common sense” that derivatives should be completely separate from banks. Now, Matt has already written at some length about why her ban on federal assistance for derivatives traders is a horrible, horrible idea. To quote him, via text, from the middle of the debate today:

    OK, this is just insane. The derivative market is wholly interconnected with other areas of banking. If we learned nothing else in 1987, we learned that much. And clearing does not remove connections. Why in the world is NO ONE in the mainstream media picking up on this?

    I think he plans on turning it into a post soon, but there’s a little insight into one econ dork’s reaction to Lincoln.

Finally, here are quick interviews of Halter and Lincoln following the debate, courtesy of the Ark Times YouTube page:

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