Tonight was the final debate between candidates for the Republican nomination for US Senate. About 450 people were in the crowd, and plenty of others watched online as these candidates made their final case for your vote on June 12th. This was probably the most interesting of the debates in my view, as it focused more on philosophy and approach than on canned talking points for the most part and really gave us a chance to understand what’s really inside these folks.
The expectation tonight was that Jaime Radtke would go for broke and deliver broadside after broadside on George Allen, since she really didn’t have much to lose in doing so. To the surprise of many, that didn’t happen. Perhaps Jaime came to the conclusion that poking at Allen wasn’t going to eventually cause him to do something dumb as she’d probably hoped, and felt a little stung by the criticism directed her way as a result of trying to beat up on Allen previously. She never called out Allen by name tonight, instead sticking to the usual talking points and focusing her ire on Democrats. It ended up being a more of statesmanlike performance, but one that ended up lacking the kind of shake-up-the-establishment interest that pretty much has propelled her campaign to this point. A solid performance, but one that kind of got lost amidst the more engaging deliveries of others on the stage.
George Allen was playing it safe, which was understandable. He’s ahead in the polls by a substantial margin, so tactically his game plan was going to simply not do anything stupid. In that he succeeded admirably. That provided quite an insight to folks like me, who see plenty of elected officials make a living by “playing it safe” while they compromise on core values because at the time it seems the safer thing to do. Allen was ready with the usual talking points and didn’t waver, even to the point of not answering some questions where any degree of political risk might be involved. If you’re thinking this guy will ever stick his neck out on principle when doing so might involve any risk at all, you’re crazy. Tonight made that abundantly clear not in what he said, but in how he consistently acted.
Bob Marshall was his usual funny, engaging self and did a tremendous job showing not just what he stands for, but that he’s got an engaging sense of humor. He’s also quite the risk taker, at one point so forcefully declaring his opposition to abortion that it almost seemed like he was borrowing text from some Democrat figures of southern history that Republicans typically steer well clear of. His point is well taken, and not only consistent with the Republican electorate but with a growing majority of the general electorate as well, making his boldness a pretty clear demonstration that as always, Bob Marshall marches to the beat of his own drummer an no one else’s. That has got to connect with Republican voters, if only they get a chance to hear that clear message. Unfortunately, most primary voters are likely to entirely miss this one unless the mainstream media picks up on this, but even if the mainstream media does, I expect they’ll spin it as horribly as they always do.
EW Jackson was, as usual, the most entertaining candidate of the evening and was regularly interrupted by applause. He was terrific at picking out core issues embedded within the questions asked (that everyone else often missed) and displayed a remarkable ability to not only understand the issue presented to him, but the philosophy underlying the way the question was asked. Up to now Jackson hasn’t really demonstrated a razor-sharp intellect, just simply a great gift at oration that often mesmerizes audiences. Tonight Jackson was peeling back the philosophical layers getting to the fundamentals of policy in a way I hadn’t seen him do before. It was utterly impressive. His experience as a candidate has sharpened him into one incredibly impressive guy and his growth on the campaign trail has been utterly remarkable.
I’d encourage readers to watch this debate in its entirety, as it really is a tremendous resource to use in determining who deserves your support. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be available, unless one or more of the candidates decide to post it. RPV’s livestream doesn’t appear to have been recorded. If that changes, I’ll update this post with a link to the debate.
Great job by RPV tonight, which deserves a lot of thanks for not only making this happen but even ensuring that those who couldn’t attend would be able to watch it. Let’s hope plenty of people will have the chance to do that.
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