• 37°

Round 2: Hagan v. Tillis was a battle of talking points

The idyllic vision of political debates is that they serve as an opportunity for the candidates to share their thoughts and ideas on issues of public policy, to engage with their opponents and clearly delineate where they stand and how they would impact public policy.
While we had a “debate” of sorts Tuesday evening between incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and challenger Thom Tillis, what we really got was a gloves-off slugfest of aggressive talking points. In other words, a no-holds brawl rather than a debate.
It started with the opening salvos, otherwise known as the opening statements, with both Democrat Hagan and Republican Tillis slinging their all-too-familiar talking points against one another: “96 percent with President Obama” versus “education cuts, education cuts, education cuts.”
In the first debate, both candidates were sizing each other up and not sure where to land the punches. But a month later, when both came out swinging at the very opening, it was like a feeding frenzy crowd circling around two fighters and yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!”
And Hagan came loaded for bear. Perhaps having the ever-so-slight lead in the polls gave her more confidence. Usually, we see the candidate who is trailing in the polls become more aggressive, but this Hagan appeared much more comfortable on the attack.
At times, Tillis seemed to rely too much on his talking points. The constant repetition of “96 percent” and “regulatory burden” got burdensome after the first half hour. But his responses were obviously geared to shoring up his conservative base, while appearing to deliberately cast off of a middle-of-the-road moderate appeal.
Tillis’ major flaws were two notable flubs. When he failed to answer a very pointed question by George Stephanopoulos about what policy stance he would disagree with his own party, and when he stumbled on gay marriage inevitably becoming the law of the land in North Carolina.
For her part, Hagan was trying to be too cute in some of her answers, most notably a not-so-memorable use of the state’s toast in her closing remarks and throwing back at Tillis the line of him failing the state 100 percent of the time.
While the change in format provided more lightning when the candidates got the chance to question each other, it turned into another example of talking past each other and, more often than not, avoiding the question at all costs and going for the blows at every opportunity.
When the bell finally rang to end this round, it would be surprising if the needle moved any after this fight. Of the two contestants, Tillis needed to inject some energy into what appears to be a campaign stuck in stall. In the end, he seemed to be fighting to reinforce his base, and that’s not a good thing with a month to go before the final electoral fight.
If any partisan voter was out there, they were probably whooping and hollering that their candidate landed that one-two punch right in the jaw. For any undecided voter out there, they were probably thinking, when is this over?
Four more weeks, folks.
Dr. Michael Bitzer is provost and political science professor at Catawba College. This column first appeared on his blog for WFAE, The Party Line.

Comments

Comments closed.

Local

City approves DOT agreement, Salisbury Station project could begin next year

Local

County plans to use vulture effigy, enforce violations to remedy animal carcass feeding problem

Education

Two weeks after ending enhanced protocols, Catawba has no COVID-19 cases

News

Council to hear revised version of Downtown Main Street Plan

News

Political Notebook: Majority of likely voters, local legislators support school reopening bill

Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccinations in Rowan top positives since start of pandemic

Crime

Man faces drug charges after breaking and entering call

Lifestyle

Waterworks schedules 2021 Summer ARTventures

Crime

Blotter: Man faces drug charges after being found passed out in vehicle

Ask Us

Ask Us: What programs exist for litter cleanup?

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education

News

After surviving COVID-19 scare, Lois Willard set to celebrate 100th birthday