Thursday, June 29, 2006

Notes From Tonight's Debate

Tonight NECN aired their second gubernatorial debate, this one with the three Democratic candidates and a particular focus on education and health care. The AP has a report from the debate and Globe Columnist Scot Lehigh has already shared his thoughts. You can see portions of the debate on the NECN website. Charley from Blue Mass. Group liveblogged it.

One thing I did want to mention first is that the subject matter here are things that people trust Democrats to handle more than Republicans. These are Democratic bread and butter issues and Democratic candidates should be able to hit these questions out of the park. For the most part, all three candidates did well, but would have liked to see them stronger.

There were some good moments. I thought the exchange about the rollback was particularly good, and let viewers see the different viewpoints of the candidates. Chris Gabrieli made a good point noting that if you're going to lower the rate you at least need a plan to do it, more than just saying "of course the money's there." Patrick also made the important point that we need to invest in our infrastructure if we want to attract businesses. It's impossible to grow the economy and make the investments that businesses want.

Tom Reilly also did well when asked about the reimportation of drugs from Canada. Frank Phillips of the Globe asked him whether our own biotech industry, which is against that, can afford to have us pay lower prices. Reilly basically told him that he didn't care, and that the seniors who couldn't pay for their medicines were more important to him.

Here's what I didn't like. R. D. Sahl started off the second half by asking the candidates to say something bad about their opponent. No one really took the bait, which I appreciated, but Sahl seemed frustrated that he couldn't get them to badmouth each other. Gabrieli finally managed to change the subject by saying that he'd rather throw his gauntlet at Romney and Healey, and he noted their lack of results for the state.

I'm also not sure why Reilly continues to lead off with how he almost dropped out of school and how people told him he wasn't college material. I agree that it's a nice success story, and I really liked how he used it in his answer to the question about the MCAS. Still, I thought it was weird to bring it up in his closing.