Thursday, August 31, 2006

Debate debate

On Monday, the three debates for gubernatorial candidates were announced, and appeared in most newspapers on Tuesday. Now, it's Thursday, and the complaints from the snubbed are deafening:

In today's Ottumwa Courier:

Also disappointing is that Ottumwa, which had been suggested by Nussle as one of eight possible debate sites, has been left out.

Southern Iowa, for too long, has been ignored by politicians. They usually focus on the state’s largest urban areas like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

And again, this part of the state as well as other locales have been ignored.

“I am disappointed that Chet Culver has agreed to only three of the eight debate invitations our team has accepted ... ” said Nussle’s running mate Bob Vander Plaats.

We couldn’t agree more.

And in today's Sioux City Journal:

That Iowa Democrat gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver didn't want to include Sioux City as one of the sites for a debate with his Republican opponent, Jim Nussle, is a snub, plain and simple.

The three cities agreed to by the Culver and Nussle campaigns this week as debate host locations are Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines. Once again, the mindset appears to be that Iowa's borders are the Mississippi River and the city limits of West Des Moines. Residents of western Iowa have become accustomed to that way of thinking through the years, but that doesn't make it right.

For once, the voice of reason comes from David Yepsen's blog:

I see the campaign for governor has sunk to a debate over whether Democrat Chet Culver and Republican Jim Nussle should have had a debate in western Iowa.


This happens in every campaign. We get sidetracked into silly things like a debate over debates. During the slow news month of August, such silliness takes on an oversized importance. (See, I’m even blogging about it.)

The fact is, most people could care less where candidates debate. For that matter, most people could care less about anything to do with political debates, given the poor ratings they get. Many people who watch them already have their minds made up and are just watching to see if the guy they hate goofs up.

These debates are television shows. It’s what’s on the tube that is the political reality, not where the studio is located.

Just in case anyone out there doesn't see the strategy, let me explain to you what just happened:

Nussle didn't want eight debates, but by proposing them, he forced Culver to make an unpopular choice. Culver could've chosen to debate in Dubuque, Muscatine and Council Bluffs and five other cities would've been upset about not getting a debate. As a result, Culver gets to have the debates in three Dem-friendly cities, and Nussle gets to use the other five suggestions to rile up voters in "neglected" areas.

And besides, was anyone really excited to go see said debates?



bacon said...

wouldn't miss any of them. I think we'll see once the debates are held why Stumbling Chet wanted the fewest number of debates possible.

KL Snow said...

I'm not sure three is actually the "fewest number of debates possible."

If they had done one superdebate, for IPTV or really any statewide outlet, in Iowa City or somewhere like that where he wouldn't get accused of being Des Moines-centric, I think they could've gotten away with it. In fact, the PR backlash might have been less, too.

Chris said...

I'd a gone... And cheered for Chet, stumbling and all.