Gov debate musings

I wasn’t going to watch the governor’s debate, but somehow it’s found its way onto my TV.

The issue stuff is going in one ear and out the other, so far. I’ve heard it so many times. But I’m not without questions:

1) What’s up with Peter Hutchinson’s mouth? At the Chamber of Commerce debate last month, he used “sucks” to describe the roads. Tonight he said people are “pissed off.” What’s up with that? Granted lots of people — including me — used “pissed off” and “sucks” in everyday conversation, but when I’m in front of a microphone, I don’t. Is he trying to show he’s an average person? There’s one more big debate to go. Those of us scared to death of the FCC obscenity rules have got to be a little worried about whether he escalates the “potty mouth” strategy even more.

2) Lapel wear is getting big in politics. Earlier today I was watching the CBS football pregame and all 5 had American flags on their lapels. Tonight I see both Pawlenty and Hatch have ribbon insignias on. That could mean support our troops or it could be for breast cancer or AIDS research. My wife has a silver one that means support for mental health parity. Lapels are like billboards now. Peter Hutchinson doesn’t have any lapelwear tonight.

3) Maybe I’m missing something but Mike Hatch — the attorney general — keeps hammering the immigration issue, saying the Pawlenty administration’s Commerce Department isn’t enforcing the law. That seems like a strategy that could backfire. Isn’t the attorney general’s office the state’s top cop?

4) Tom Hauser is the only participant tonight not wearing a diagonal striped tie. He also has the nicest suit. Maybe these three guys ought to try getting a TV gig.

5) Mike Hatch talked about meeting some woman crying on the curb because “she couldn’t get her anti-suicide pills.” Huh? There’s no such thing as anti-suicide pills. Anti-depressants by the way, if that’s what he meant, have been linked to child suicide, for what it’s worth.

6) Gov. Pawlenty said his “health impact fee” was not a violation of the no-new-taxes pledge he signed because a judge ruled it wasn’t a tax. Why is this still an issue? Of course it violated the pledge. How do I know. Because the guy who wrote the pledge said so:

The Health Impact Fee was bad policy, bad politics and bad law. Judge Fetsch’s ruling confirmed what we have said all along: the ‘health impact’ costs of tobacco are already being paid by smokers through the 1998 tobacco settlement. This “fee” was nothing but a tax increase by another name, and the Judge struck down the law based upon the all too cute reasoning behind the ‘fee.’ — David Strom

Quibble if you want on whether it’s a tax as defined by law, but that’s different on whether it violated the pledge or the spirit of the pledge.

  • Graham

    I understand that it is a little odd to hear Mr. Hutchinson utter the phrase “pissed off” during a gubernatorial debate, but isn’t there a point at which eloquence needs to take a back seat to reality?

    His position on this matter is clear from what he later addressed regarding something he doesn’t like about Gov. Pawlenty: he uses his great communication skills to hoodwink people. Rather than prancing around these issues with floral language, doesn’t it make sense to just address the reality of the situation?

    Minnesotans are pissed off about a lot of things.

  • MG

    I think Mike Hatch has had botox shots…not only does it prevent wrinkles, but it makes you look nicer as it prevents scowling, which was smart marketing on his part.

    Peter Hutchinson looks as pale as a ghost. I wonder if he threw up right before the debate as that always drains you big time. Maybe this is his sneak preview to his Halloween costume. But seriously, make up person did a bad job.

    Same thing with Tim Pawlenty, the make up man needed to powder his face some more, he was sweating up a storm up there.

  • Barb

    Technically, I think the “top cop” designation goes to the Commissioner of Public Safety.

  • bsimon

    Bob, no comment on the Bob Collins question? They were each asked to say something nice…

    Regarding the ‘potty mouth,’ on the one hand, I agree that a candidate shouldn’t offer that soundbite during such a high profile event, but on the other, I though Pawlenty sounded like a weenie when he mentioned it in another response. Which style resonates more with voters?

  • Graham Martin

    It was definitely a bad move on Pawlenty’s part to mention Hutchinson’s use of some unexpected language during the debate.

    First, he only had so much time available to make important political statements, and that is what he decided to make as his top statement at that point? What other nonsensical issues make top billing for him?

    Second, he decided that “pissed off” was “cursing,” which I don’t think anyone would really concede. No politician does him- or herself any favors by blatantly trying to twist such inane statements to their advantage. It was overly clear what he was trying to do, and it just made him look petty and desperate.

    Personally, I think it’s impressive that Mr. Hutchinson has made such an impact that Pawlenty is resorting to such tactics to try to bury him. Why are those means necessary if he’s so confident in his campaign and eligibility?

  • Bob Collins

    I’m pretty sure the phrase is in *our* list of banned phrases. Is it a “curse” word. Probably not. But it probably shouldn’t make its way into the State of the State speech either.

  • Chris

    Pawlenty brings Hutchinson up as a “liberal” in his ads to warn any GOPers thinking of casting a protest vote. Most polls that make their internals available have shown Hutchinson drawing about twice as many voters away from Hatch as from Pawlenty. IDing Hutchinson as liberal would hopefully – from Pawlenty’s perspective – up that ratio to the guv’s favor.

    Pawlenty: Nothing drastically different from him in terms of issues or presentation style. Very smooth and articulate and suburban. The one thing that was really notable to me was that he started out by saying, “Don’t listen to those two, Minnesota is doing really well,” and then spent the rest of the hour attacking Hatch instead of describing how well the state was allegedly doing. Was that wise strategy?

    Hatch: Debates are just not his format. Hatch can be very convincing when giving speeches or interviews: he seems very straight-shooting and non-flashy. But in debates, he has a tendency sound like he’s reading lines, and to mumble and trip over his words a bit when he’s wrapping up his answers, and seemed low-energy when contrasted with Pawlenty and Hutchinson. He did have moments though, when talking about education or enforcing labor laws or rising property taxes, where his voice became very passionate and earnest and articulate. If those are the clips played on the evening news, he should come out of this looking good. He also didn’t respond to most of Pawlenty’s attacks, whereas Pawlenty responded to just about everything Hatch said about him.

    Hutchinson: I always get the feeling that, if the moderators would let him, he’d leave his podium and launch into a musical number. I’m not sure Hutchinson has figured out quite how to make the most of the 60- to 45-second allotments he typically gets in these events. He usually says something sweeping that everyone can agree with – “health care costs must go down,” “voters are disgruntled with politics as usual” – but doesn’t elaborate much more. It doesn’t make him sound massively atypical from most politicians. Pawlenty is very good about condensing his message on a given topic into a minute or less.