Gubernatorial Candidates: Debate No. 1

Former Attorney General Bob McDonnell and Creigh deeds held their first debate today, sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association, and carried live on the Internet from the Homestead at . McDonnell came out ahead, as Deeds seemed to have done some homework but couldn’t keep up with the pummeling coming from the former Attorney General.

It was a good debate. There were some technical problems with the feed at one point, but those got straightened out and the feed was not bad.  There was a chat beside the video feed, with lively participation from commenters on the site. Those on Twitter who used the #VaGov hashtag had their comments drawn into the chat as well. There were many more chat/Twitter people favoring McDonnell. By the end, the Deeds-favorers were griping that McDonnell seemed overly scripted. I’m sure both candidates were prepared well; but the preparation didn’t help Deeds make much “stick” on McDonnell.

The format was good. The moderator did a good job, rarely inserting himself into things, and both candidates kept to time limits and generally behaved themselves.

Deeds mired himself early by complaining that McDonnell wants to take choice away from women. Hardly a campaign strategy secret that Dems will try hard to make McDonnell look as “far right” as they can. However, this year, this way of doing it will be a total non-starter, for this reason: Obama and the majority of Washington Democrats are pushing hard to pass an enormous and expensive health care bill… that will take away all kinds of health choices from everyone… and hand them to the government. So Mr. Deeds, how is is that the Democrats are for letting people make choices about their bodies and their health care? McDonnell was all over that and will continue to be.

Deeds then tried to edge away from this. “Let’s don’t talk about what’s going on in Congress.” Heh! McDonnell didn’t let him get away with that, either. It does matter what goes on in Congress, when it restricts the rights of Virginians, yes?

Next, McDonnell proceeded to smack around Deeds and his transportation dreams. Because they aren’t plans. (Ha – I just looked at Deeds website. There is a menu item called Issues… no transportation there, just a nice photo of Deeds softly illuminated by window light, as he studies up on something. Go ahead, keep studying).

One Deeds commenter said he felt like Deeds seemed to speak from the heart, in a warm and earnest way. Deeds does seem like a decent guy, which is nice… but in a crisis I don’t want Mr. “I feel your pain.” I want someone hard-headed and prepared to make difficult decisions.

A question on gun control, and the Tech shooting was asked. Unfortunately I guessed that McDonnell would completely own that so,  I wandered off for a minute and missed what was apparently a great answer. Someone please recap in the comments? Thanks.

Closing statements and handshakes afterwards were polite, even warm.

Larry Sabato tweeted that the debate was “noise that passes & is forgotten quickly.” Guess that means that McDonnell was the clear winner and Sabato wishes to dismiss the entire experience.

I predict that tomorrow’s newspapers will declare a draw, but that won’t be what most of us saw. We saw McDonnell firing on all 8 cylinders and Deeds unable to keep up in his hybrid.

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