Saturday, April 08, 2006

Democratic Senate Candidates Debate

[Update: Please see the comment from eRobin with a link to her much more substantial review of the debate. Those finding their way here from the Santorum blog may be interested in the "Reading Rick" link on the left-hand sidebar -- it is my in-depth review of Santorum's book.]

I was out at a family gathering today but taped the Democratic senate candidates debate and watched it when I got home. Alan Sandals, Bob Casey, Jr., and Chuck Pennacchio met at Slippery Rock University to discuss the issues. The debate was sponsored by DFA and moderated by Lou Hancherick of the North Hills DFA.

There were 8 questions on the following topics: health insurance, war in Iraq, federal government budget, Roe v Wade, eavesdropping on American citizens, undocumented workers, funding social security, and the salary of lawmakers in relation to average worker's salary.

I wish I could tell you that I paid close attention to everything the three man said and took careful notes on their comments, but, honestly, I did not. It had been a long day and I just couldn't follow all the proposed plans, stated stances on the issues, and hairsplitting differences between some of these among the candidates. However, these are the things that caught my attention long enough to jot them down. I'll leave it to the pundits who actually follow the issues closely to dissect the candidate's statements.

* Note to the Casey campaign -- buy him a suit. It was a senatorial candidate's debate, for heaven's sake, and he shows up in a navy jacket, light blue shirt, and khaki pants. It was just too casual. At least wear a tie. Casey doesn't have a visibly electric personality so a sharper wardrobe could really help make a good impression. This is the first time I had seen Casey on screen for any length of time and I wasn't bowled over. If the campaign is looking for suggestions, I say try a navy suit, white or pale shirt and a vibrant yellow print (but not diagonal striped) tie. Just a thought.

* Chuck Pennacchio was the best speaker in the trio. His voice is clear and carries well. His words are crisp and there is enough variation in tonal quality to make my ears perk up. There is sufficient emotion in his voice that I doubt any of his students sleep through his classes. I did notice one mixed metaphor when he said, in discussing Iraq, that we had bit off a hornet's nest. Sandals also speaks well but he doesn't quite have Pennacchio's verbal zip. Casey ... well, I'm sure he knows what he's talking about but his delivery is not exactly gripping.

* Bob Casey is running against Sen. Rick Santorum. He barely mentioned the other two Democratic candidates but consistently talked about what Santorum was doing. The only real exception was when he lectured Sandals on lecturing Pennacchio. Sandals and Pennacchio are running against the other two men on the stage. There were even a few direct arguments between the two of them which livened up the proceedings a bit.

* Alan Sandals pointed out that he is the only candidate that has experience paying employees health insurance costs. Interesting point.

* Chuck Pennacchio supports a Constitutional amendment for a balanced budget.

Sorry this report isn't more detailed and doesn't focus more on the issues.

11 comments:

LVDem said...

CAsey's attire was entirely intentioal. He needs to shed that stiff image. So his opponents look like business types while he looks like a guy you could eat a couple of pancakes with.

Hope the family thing went well.

eRobin said...

Don't apologize. You made some good observations. I live-blogged it here.

Anonymous said...

If by that you mean you could eat pancakes with him if you had a country club membership, a yacht, or joined a frat...

LVDem said...

actually I was talking about saturday morning pan cake breakfasts at the local fire hall... that's a big thing for candidates to do in the Lehigh Valley. Put on a pancake breakfast, invite a ton of people and have volunteers turn out pancakes until you run out of ingredients. The people who show up are typically senior citizens or political geeks like us who appreciate a relaxed atmosphere. Candidates who show up in business suits look stuffy and unapproachable.

No need to get huffy about country clubs, yachts or fraternities. Keep in mind that they are community organizations just like the local volunteer fire company and therefore serve an important social capital building function.

AboveAvgJane said...

LVDem,

And he would have been dressed appropriately, or perhaps overdressed, for a pancake breakfast. I applaud him for going to such things. But that's not where he was. He was at a debate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, and that requires a tie. If he wanted to soften his image he might have tried a sweater over a shirt with a sport jacket.

Austin said...

I'd like to point out that he isn't going to pancake breakfasts. This is the guy who ducked the past four debates and has done possibly as many as 3 public events. Compared to Chuck who has 291. In fact I am looking to have Chuck back in the area before May think we could get a pancake breakfast together for him?

Austin said...

by the area I mean NEPA

LVDem said...

mmmm... pancakes. tell me where and I'll be there. I'm voting for Casey, but any candidate who does a pancake breakfast deserves a good turn out.

ACM said...

yeah, anon, I thought he looked a bit patrician too, but also thought that the lack of tie was entirely intentional, whether for a folksy look or to make clear that he doesn't have to "work quite so hard" as his opponents in this race...

as for what you said, jane, I was interested that you find Chuck's speaking style the most compelling. I always feel like he goes directly into maximally emphatic mode without any ramping up (of his own argument or of the heat of the discussions), which leaves him looking a bit ranty to me. my spouse felt the same way. but I suspect that that's what wins him a lot of devotees -- the feeling that he feels strongly and brings energy to the race. I tend to lean toward cooler heads when that's the biggest distinction, which may be why Sandals seems to me like more the guy I could actually see doing the job...

thanks for your takes, of whatever sort. good to get a variety of perspectives.

Anonymous said...

Chuck is gonna be in the Valley Wednesday eve - 7pm at the Bethlehem Brew works

AboveAvgJane said...

ACM. a note that I thought Chuck was the best speaker is not a sign of support. Like you, I tend to favor Sandals. I did think Pennacchio went a little too far too fast in some spots -- especially his attacks on Sandals. But after a long day of driving, eating, and general festivating, the most engaged voice was the one that kept my attention. Also like you, I think between May and November we will be dealing with a choice between Mr. Dull and Mr. Obnoxious and while it will be difficult to work up a lot of enthusiasm, I know where I'll stand on that one, too.