Aside from the obvious question of whether KKAR’s Brian Barks took it easy on Pete Ricketts because they obviously share the same barber, this U.S. Senate debate between Ben Nelson and Pete Ricketts wasn’t too bad as far as back and forth between the candidates went. From Iraq, to education to gas prices, each candidate directed responses at the other, and the other came back with their own retorts. This wasn’t exactly the British Parliament, but it made for a pseudo-interesting hour.
But of course, as the two are prepping, they’ve always got their canned lines at the ready. So our first question was: Were notes legal? Nelson seemed to have a box of recipe cards with notes on all the different issues that could come up. He pulled out one of the cards when he was quoting various politicians on the Iraq question, and was clearly reading off it on other answers and zingers he was going for. Ricketts didn’t seem to have anything as obvious, but we’d still be curious to know what the agreed upon rules were.
And Nelson also came armed with a bag of zingers – one of which seems to have had everyone all a flutter post-debate (all quotes paraphrased):
1) On drilling in Alaska: “My opponent is for an Alaskan solution, and I’m for a Nebraskan solution.” (That’s cute, but can you rhyme something with “Keya Paha”.)
2) On the consumption tax: “It’s a tax shift…where the shiftee gets the shaft.” (This was good until the little part with the constituent’s letter.)
3) Going back to the drilling question, Nelson had prepped, with a grin on his face and a letter in his pocket, the issue of Noble Valley, WY. Apparently Rickett’s father sent a letter to Nelson asking him to stop drilling there. (And as an aside, between the original property tax protest, and now this letter from his dad, is the Ricketts family aware that when running for office, those things don’t happen in a vacuum???) Ricketts seemed genuinely unaware of Nelson’s reference, and taken aback by it later on in interviews. As a matter of fact, you can imagine later where Pete calls Joe and says, “Dad, what were you thinking?!” (But really, you can’t compare ANWR with Noble Valley at all – one is high up in the Arctic Circle occupied by some caribou, and the other is in one of the most active tourist areas in the country.)
Ricketts was prepped with a few lines as well, but didn’t seem to have the sound-bite worthy versions that Nelson had:
1) On border security: “Ben, we don’t need another Great Wall of China.”
2) And his (really, pretty lame) close: “I’m Pete Ricketts and I approved this message.” (What we’d like to know is, who approved that line for his close?)
So all in all this was an interesting lead-in to what should really be a brutal free-for-all in the next debate in Omaha. The news market is larger and Ricketts may find that he needs to really make some news to put Nelson on his heels. Nelson is always prepped for situations like these and will probably have a bigger bag of gunk to chuck back at Ricketts. That could really be the most exciting of the three.
In the meantime, all the MSM will continue to pooh-pooh all those horrrrrible commercials…