Thursday, October 18, 2012
Debate Night: The Undercard
By Atticus Finch Jr.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012, will probably be remembered as the presidential town hall slugfest in which Mitt Romney revealed his little black binder of women AND challenged President Obama on the Libyan consulate tragedy only to be spanked by moderator Candy Crowley. All I could think of was the Saturday Night Live regular “Emily Litella” saying “Never mind!”
The presidential race was actually the last debate of the night. Earlier in Raleigh the candidates for NC governor also squared off.
And here in Watauga County, this little bird found a discreet spot to watch a local debate hosted by the ASU Student Government Association in collaboration with ASU College Democrats and Young Republicans. Watauga County had its own slugfest Tuesday night at 7pm at the Broyhill Center.
First up was Elisabeth Motsinger, running for U.S. Congress in NC's 5th district. Mrs. Motsinger shadow-boxed her empty podium opponent, answering politely all questions while her opponent was uncharacteristically silent. Motsinger said economic recovery must trump debt reduction and that "focusing on small business is the key, not big business pretending to be small business."
Candidates for NC House district 93 then squared off. Incumbent Jonathan Jordan took a page from Bill O'Reilly's "rumble" with Jon Stewart by bringing visual aid placards with fancy bar charts. If the audience was feeling any Oooooohs and Aaaaaahs over Jordan’s graphic skills, it politely suppressed them. Former House representative Cullie Tarleton struck a blow when he summarized Jordan's budgetary approach "in five words: cuts, cuts and more cuts." Jordan raised the Boone water intake issue, of course, but he resisted reading from Tarleton's 2009 House Bill 1101 this time and instead blamed the Town of Boone. Tarleton quickly pointed out that "the Republican leadership stopped Jordan's attempt to undermine the project."
NC Senate candidates Roy Carter and Dan Soucek provided the greatest contrast. Mr. Soucek was poised and smarmy in his delivery. He explained that he introduced Senate Bill 949 to eliminate Boone's ETJ in order to create a dialogue about this issue. (Oh. That was your intention! Next time, consider a phone call.) Mr. Carter animatedly argued for education saying we're losing our best and brightest by cutting the Teacher Fellows program. Interesting turns of phrases also heard: "voodoo budgeting” (Carter’s accusation), "someway somehow is not a plan" (Soucek’s rejoinder).
Last up were the six candidates running for three Watauga County commissioner seats. Six questions spread across the three races made for a (very) brief opportunity for these candidates.
Last week at the Farm Bureau forum, Tommy Adams claimed "personal property rights" is what his campaign is all about, but tonight I don't think I heard that term even once. Ah yes, the audience of ASU students doesn't own property. So instead he continued to push the business park idea for the old WHS site as the economic solution for the county. (Even as multiple offers have now been tendered, and one accepted.)
This little bird apologizes for becoming mesmerized by Adams' comment on voter fraud and a State Bureau of Investigation case file in Boone in 2005. It was in 2005 that the Templetons tried to take over the Boone Town Council. It’s my understanding that it was Tommy Adams himself who was the object of that investigation. He was accused of trying to help the Templetons by inducing ASU students who were not residents of the town to claim they were and vote for the Templeton slate. Which made it more than slightly amazing that Mr. Adams would raise the issue as an accusation against Democrats.
Republican incumbent commissioner Vince Gable, running against John Welch, again reminded us of what a great job he has done ensuring our county debt is well managed and not a problem. Since fear of debt is a Republican staple, no one gasped. In the last race, Perry Yates said, "I agree with Virginia [Roseman]" and Virginia Roseman said, "I agree with Mr. Yates."
Remainder of debate summed up this way: no gaffes, no home runs. Actually after watching Romney later in the evening, I have to say that no gaffe is a home run.