Now, we will try to keep it as non-partisan as possible — and you will undoubtedly hear that one candidate or another won — but we think it was pretty even, all in all. Frankly, pretty uneventful. Frank Lee, pretty boring.
Here’s the thing, it was in a 60 minute time-slot, and with the introduction of the moderator, and the candidates and the three questioners, then the explanation of the rules, the length of the questions themselves, the closing thank yous by the moderator, then the closing credits rolling on the screen — there was 45 maybe 50 minutes of hearing from the candidates, maybe?
No wonder they didn’t want Pat Flynn to join in! EVERY question would have been a 15 second answer (more on that).
But seriously, it is a good thing Pat Flynn wasn’t there, or otherwise we have had to listen to HIS answer on naming a mistake he has made in the past. And we would have had to listen to HIS answer on what charity he has given to. And we would have had to listen to HIS answer on who his favorite Democrat Senator is.
And yes, those were real questions.
And after all of those insightful queries, there was THIS one:
The Congressional Budget Office says that between 1979 and 2007, the income of the top 1 percent of U.S. households rose 275 percent while the income of the bottom 20 percent rose 18 percent. It’s apparent that Democrats will make income inequality a big issue this fall. Do you think growing income inequality is a problem, and if so, what, if anything should the government do about it?
And then the three candidates were each given 15 seconds to respond.
Why not just ask them to summarize the causes and effects of the Industrial Revolution in that time.
(And don’t even get us started on the fact that OWH reporter Paul Hammell had a coffee AND a bottle of water in front of him. We are fairly sure he had a egg salad sandwich and some jerky in his jacket pocket as well.)
So after all that, how were the candidates?
Meh, about as you’d expect.
Bruning was the only one up there showing any energy. You can call him “unauthentic” if that makes you happy, but Don Stenberg and Deb Fischer were both either very nervous or had knocked back a Valium before hitting the stage.
And that is probably just their regular manner, but Bruning separated himself on that, if you were looking for…something. And while Don was pretty nervous at the start, flubbing prepared lines here and there, he defininitely caught his steam later. He put up some good answers. Bruning also generally hit each answer well. Fischer was fine, though was pretty generic in her answers. They weren’t necessarily bad, but nothing really rang out — except for her sugar beet story.
She told the story of a mistake she made in the legislature on some sugar beet carrying legislation for Panhandle farmers. And that specificity of the story was one thing that sticks with you. Same with Stenberg’s story of his long-distance relationship with his wife-to-be during law school. And Bruning had that with his story of going to Iraq to assist in their law practices.
So that was sort of interesting — and we would add that it is those sort of stories that stick with voters, for future reference. But did any of that make you want to vote for one over the other?
Then there was the lone dustup. Stenberg said he thought it was troubling that Bruning made money while being Attorney General. Bruning replied that he wasn’t going to throw mud…because he was running to be Nebraska’s Senator, and not South Carolina’s third Senator.
That was pretty much as intense as it ever got. There were your standard knocking of ObamaCare and getting rid of burdensome regulations and strong military (we think) and that sort of stuff. But these weren’t the things that were going to separate one GOP candidate from the other.
We aren’t sure if we should blame the questions or the format or the responses, but wow was that a drag. If you were undecided, or on the fence before, did that make you drop to one candidate’s side? Geeze, we doubt it. But first that assumes that an undecided person was watching public television at 7pm last night. Good luck with that.
Next time, hopefully as much thought will go into putting such a debate together… as went into keeping Pat Flynn out of the building.
**Update at 10:10am**
As we noted in our Tweet, the Club for Growth has a new ad up attacking Jon Bruning on Don Stenberg’s behalf. See it here:
Here is the ad’s script:
BRUNING: WHY AM I LEADING THE FIGHT TO STOP PRESIDENT OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE LAW?
V/O: OOPS. BEFORE OBAMACARE CAME ALONG, JON BRUNING SUPPORTED A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTH CARE PLAN.
LATER, HE VOTED TO RAISE NEBRASKA’S SALES TAX. DOUBLED HIS OFFICE SPENDING, AND PRAISED THE OBAMA STIMULUS.
JON BRUNING TALKS A GOOD GAME, BUT THE MORE YOU LEARN HIS RECORD, THE WORSE IT GETS
CLUB FOR GROWTH ACTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT OF THIS ADVERTISING.
We, and others, have addressed all these issues before. Feel free to discuss, if you’d like.
**UPDATE at 1:30pm**
And not to be outdone by their CFG brethren, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund has a new ad out for Don Stenberg. See it here:
Well, we will just say it: There are a lot of good, positive things to say about Don Stenberg. And ways to say them. But this ad is a mess. A bunch of different themes. Way too many pictures. Too fast. No real message. “Fearless”? Otherwise in fear of what?
Again, we think you can craft a solid, positive message about Don and his accomplishments. This ain’t it.
Sorry if that’s a little harsh.
**UPDATE at 2:45pm**
Annnnnd a new Jon Bruning radio ad. Hear it here:
And here is the text, essentially listing Bruning’s endorsements:
Announcer: “What are you looking for in Nebraska’s next U.S. Senator?”
“A true conservative?”
“That’s what the Tea Party Express called Jon Bruning, praising him for his fiscal responsibility.”
“Bruning saved Nebraska taxpayers $45 million by establishing our Medicaid Fraud Unit.”
“Now, Bruning is leading the fight to overturn Obamacare – a $1.7 trillion dollar assault on our constitutional rights.”
“Are you looking for someone endorsed by Nebraska Right-to-Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?”
“That’s Jon Bruning, too.”
“Someone with an A rating from the NRA?”
“It’s no wonder the World Herald endorses Jon’s ability to be a forceful voice for the Republican cause.”
“And the Journal Star endorses Bruning for upholding conservative principles.”
“If that’s what you’re looking for in our next Senator, you’ve already found it.”
Jon Bruning: “I’m Jon Bruning.”
“I approve this message, and I’m running for Senate because I will fight to cut spending, protect the Constitution and hold Barack Obama accountable.”