MA U.S. Senate Debate on WBZ TV: Brown, Coakley & Kenndy - image: Boston Herald
U.S. Senate Candidatesappeared on WBZ TV Boston last night for a debate moderated by Boston Reporter, Jon Keller. The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald both have articles summarizing the hour long debate that was available on WBZTV Boston Website, and will be telecast on Sunday morning in the Boston Area only (TV 38 & WBZTV).
In the debate, independent candidate Joe Kennedy appeared to target Brown, rather than Coakley, while barbs directed at Brown were easily deflected. One challenge by Kennedy was that Brown makes his legislative resume available on-line – which, Brown replied, it has been on-line for 12 years. The Massachusetts Legislature has information on-line for all State Representatives and Senators available here.
Both Brown and Coakley gave the usual back and forth rhetoric common to candidates that have spared in back to back debates, Coakley, relying on her record as State Attorney General, repeated several times that her department makes the Commonwealth money, while Brown repeated his anti-tax message on more than one occasion.
The moderator, Keller, gave Brown and Coakley the majority of the questions, throwing a “bone” to Kennedy on occasion, which although normal in all debates where major party favorite candidates are present, hardly seems fair. In the radio debate, Kennedy had more of an opportunity to highlight his similarities to Coakley, and in the televised debate, again, his attacks on Brown, give the appearance the both Kennedy and Coakley are somewhat simpatico.
Notice appearance: Brown comes off as the boy next door, the son of a single mother who managed to get through Boston College, become a lawyer, successfully run for office, and take the time to serve his country in the Guard – He stands by his record, one of moderation that, that indeed allows him to state that he would be an independent thinker if elected to the U.S. Senate. Interestingly, Brown is more than aware that the Independent vote is what will drive the Senate election, and that is where he stands to gain, and is most comfortable. Should Brown continue in this vein, he will pick up the 12% of the Republican vote, with approximately 35 to 40% of the independent vote (given that some independent voters will trend Democrat and based on past elections.)
Coakley on the other hand is the epitome of accomplished woman, she has the air of the “Seven Sisters” about her, she is polished, and has an air of elitism – however, she noticeably flushes when Brown throws bars, such as the suggestion she might be “robotic” in her votes should she be elected. Brown’s barbs tend to hit home, and although in the first debate, she did complain that Brown was attacking her, in the televised debate she refrained from complaint. One pattern, oft repeated by Coakley, was her use of Bush/Cheney as the cause of all problems she would go to Washington to fix. Brown had to remind Coakley that she wasn’t running against Bush, rather against him. What Coakley might have missed was a recent Gallop Poll that indicates 44% of those surveyed want George Bush back in office. She also used the refrain “the past 8 years”, while Brown pointed out to the here and now of massive spending. Coakley appears to be playing to the base. She needs to somehow prove she is an independent thinker, and move away from the Bush-Cheney rhetoric, which will not play with the independents, although it may be too little too late, given the sound-bites are now on record. In appealing to the Democrat base, she can count on at least 30% of the vote.
As to Kennedy, he was given little airtime, and he spent most of that time focusing on Brown – that said, he should have been better prepped, as his attacks were easily deflected. The local Boston News is making the fallacious point that Kennedy will be a sore spot for Brown, while from this viewpoint, Kennedy might be more effective if he focused on issues (for his own sake), rather than attack Brown without obviously being prepared. Kennedy, in this tactic, will pick up approximately 2 to 6% of the vote, which is historically the case for Independent (third party) candidates in Massachusetts, unless he peels away votes from Coakley, given his anti-war stance.
Overall, the debate allowed those the Boston area, and those in the rest of the Bay State who might have been aware of the debate, the ability to view the candidates (albeit online).
Note: Still waiting for the first public polls to appear.