Well, I went to my first gubernatorial debate last night, and I'm really glad I got that chance. I had an odd attack of shyness, though, since I didn't know a soul, there (at least personally). Still, it was neat to see that a debate in person is almost exactly the same as a debate watched on TV. That'll make me less skeptical next time I watch one on TV.
I started out the night just taking notes on my surroundings - how it was almost a full house, but not quite, how someone actually uses the Nokia default ring, how lots and lots of people were eager to show each other that they were there, and how the roving reporter couldn't find anyone to interview that was undecided.
I accidentally sat on the (unofficial) Forrester side. I didn't even *think* about the idea that the Democrats would sit on the left, like it was a wedding or something.
For a view of a couple of Democratic sources that were liveblogging, you can go ahead an look here:
Media in Trouble
(Note about CC coverage - I have to say, I didn't notice any obvious difference in the numbers of the Corzine supporters VS the Forrester ones outside, but I *can* say that even though everyone appeared to be in a good mood and smiling, the Corzine supporters were WAY better behaved as far as not hindering traffic or acting like buffoons. At least for the few minutes I was there)
I've given you these links for a reason - I'm not going to do a question-by-question breakdown. What I am going to do is give you people impressions.
After the debate, I walked up to strangers and asked them what they thought. Despite my hot-pink kitten-decorated notebook, everyone was willing to talk to me. (all quotes except the swearing paraphrased)
My first "interview" was with a well-dressed couple that I guess to be in their 50's.
OTT: Did you enjoy the debate tonight?
WDC Woman: Forrester kicked his ASS all over the map! That was great! Everyone should see now that he's the better choice.
WDC Man: (blank look)
OTT: Thank you (smile).
Next - a woman in her 20's, dressed like a Target ad in a trumpet skirt, floral top, twill jacket, trendy hair.
OTT: Did you like the debate tonight?
20's girl: It was OK. It was my first one.
OTT: Do you mind if I ask who's side you're on?
20's Girl: Forrester. I came here with them, I'm an intern.
OTT: Oh! OK, thanks. (I was too surprised to ask anything else, she honestly looked uncomfortable to be talking about it)
Next - a pair of women in their late 40's or early 50's, suits with pants (as opposed to suits with skirts)
OTT: Did you ladies enjoy the debate, tonight?
Both - Yes, Oh, yes.
OTT: And who do you think won the debate?
Lady 1: Oh, Corzine did. I was for him when I came in here, and this didn't change my mind at all. He's the right choice.
Lady 2: Who are you going to vote for?
OTT: I admit, I'm for Corzine. I don't feel like a very objective reporter, now.
So there it is - I think that the debate was all but worthless in helping people make up their minds. And really, what's the largest number of undecideds that any poll has turned up -22%? I suppose if all 22% went for Forrester it could turn over the election, but I don't see it happening.
My observations on the debate:
I saw Forrester attacking, attacking, attacking like a dog with a bone, over items that Corzine supporters aren't likely to be fazed by. "He stood with McGreevey, he works with Norcross, He was mentored by Torricelli, he wanted to be partners with Kutcher". Guilt by association was the picture Forrester was painting, but guilt by actions is what the Republicans have to face up to. He conveniently has forgotten all the bad plans Republicans have subjected NJ to, in his closing statement, going so far as to try and associate himself with the only Repub I've ever respected out of Jersey - Tom Kean. "I'm a Tom Kean Republican" he said. My ass. Tom Kean wouldn't come out here with plans that no one can actually explain how much they;ll cost - plans that rely on the economy doing exact things at exact times. You can't assume shit like that, ever.
On the other hand, I saw Corzine stumbling over words. I saw him failing to be smooth like Dougie was. I saw him miss the chance to call on a couple of things that he could have, like that analysis by the state's bipartisan Office of Legislative Services that Forrester cited, he could have poked him hard about where that was available.
I saw both men make lame jokes about having breakfast with bears. No one liked those. At least both of them had reasonable opinions about the bear issue. Citing unsuccessful programs as the ones not to follow, or leaving it up to the Fishing & Game Council, neither one of these positions offended me the way the money talk does.
Speaking of offended - the Golan Cipel shot was *uncalled* for. It was stupid, but not as bad as some appointments that I'll not mention. Mostly because they have nothing to do with this, as McGreevey's bad decisions have nothing to do with Corzine. It was an unprincipled thing to say.
I also learned that Corzine favors a smoking ban in NJ. I was kind of dismayed at that. I think that people should have the right to poison their lungs if they want. My personal stand on this issue is that business should be allowed to be non-smoking, if that's what they think will be better for business. Telling a business that they can't allow smoking bothers me. And no, I'm not currently a smoker.
A ban on smoking indoors would affect lots and lots of people, but not as badly as promising to cut taxes that aren't levied by the state in the first place. By claiming to want to shore up everything and refusing to admit that any taxes might be raised, Forrester came off to me as a man who is either fooling himself, or trying to fool the public.
So that's what I came away from the debate with - an unchanged mind.