#NCSEN: Did planted debate questioner backfire on Tillis?

nwestThere is a pretty interesting video floating around cyberspace.  It highlights Nathan West, one of the questioners at the Time Warner Cable US Senate debate, and his gun control question.  West participated in the from-the-audience portion of the debate, and portrayed himself as a wide-eyed innocent political novice.  Actually, West (pictured at left wearing Thom Tillis and Patrick McHenry campaign lapel stickers) is a prominent supporter of, and an insider with, The Thom Tillis For Senate campaign.     It would be mighty interesting to learn how the debate sponsor, a big donor to the Tillis campaign, allowed a Tillis operative to participate in the public Q & A section of the debate — posing as wide-eyed innocent Joe Voter. 

West asked if the candidates favored allowing convicted felons or mentally-ill people access to guns.  It’s a loaded question — a softball meant to provide Tillis an opportunity to tout his endorsement by the NRA. (For the record, no one said they favored giving guns to the mentally-ill or felonious.)  

Greg Brannon said the federal government has no business placing restrictions on firearms.  In fact, he quoted the language of The Second Amendment which specifically forbids the federal government from doing so.  He said specific detailed decisions on firearm possession and usage should be made at the state and local levels. Tillis leapt at that opportunity, describing Brannon’s support of separation of powers as “irresponsible.”   Speaker Thom went on to describe federal regulation aimed at restricting gun ownership by people with mental illness as “practical.”1797357_10151977228077261_1927677467096844456_n

Brannon responded that the federal government would be tiptoeing into dangerous territory making case-by-case rulings on the mental stability of individual gun purchasers.  Brannon, an OB-GYN, says he has prescribed anti-depressants to help women combat and cope with post-partum depression.  Should a six-week episode in a woman’s life prevent her from ever being able to defend herself, Brannon asked.

Evoking the subject — and Tillis responding the way he did — created an opening for NRA rivals (and Brannon endorsers) NAGR and GOA to blast him and for primary voters to start questioning the speaker’s conservatism and commitment to the Second Amendment.

15 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Did planted debate questioner backfire on Tillis?

  1. I for one put no credence in the NRA endorsements. After all, they endorsed Harry Reid a few years ago. That’s when I dropped my NRA membership. The federal government can’t oversee itself, how can they oversee anything on local levels?

    1. NRA has a long history of bad political endorsements, many of which come from cozy relationships by NRA insiders and some wishy-washy politicians who really crave an NRA endorse to try to make themselves look conservative. If NRA listened to its grassroots instead of its lobbyists, they might do a lot better in endorsements.

      1. Raphael,
        The NRA isn’t just squishy on the Second Amendment they are corrupt. They keep on good terms with their opposition for fundraising episodes and to keep on the party invite lists. They have become a self-perpetuating bureaucracy. The real problem is the Board members are dupes.

        1. I concur Eric. Your comments are spot on about the NRA and it’s less than stellar track record of endorsements. I am particularly concerned that many will follow one direction without doing their own research on the candidates.

          I humbly submit that every voter in the May Primary race do their own research on each candidate and not vote for one special interest topic, but vote for their core values and beliefs.

          No one candidate will suit everyone’s values, however, there are standards that Republicans stand for and we cannot afford as voters and as a party to choose the wrong candidates at any level any longer.

          IN addition, it time for everyone who is a Republican to get out and get involved in a Republican club that allows for the candidates to interact with the voters and if the candidates do not come to talk to the voters and if the voter’s don’t participate in face to face interaction with the candidates, then two things will and should happen:
          A.) Candidates should not be voted to run for office in the General election due to their wrong minded thinking and
          B.) If Republicans don’t start becoming active in groups like the Wake County Men’s Club or the Women’s Club or any of the County CLubs, then please don’t complain about how the election results or if a candidate does not respond to you.

          Finally, everyone should support these the candidate of their choice, and that includes to support the candidates financially. Politics in North Carolina is still a grass roots event as well as a high dollar event in BOTH political parties, but it takes Republican votes and conservative Democrats and conservative Independents to win elections.

          You are spot on with your comments about the NRA and they need to do a better job in vetting the candidates on Second Amendment support. Remember, several years ago, the NRA supported Harry Reid, (that other “Senator” who also hates Cow Ranchers.)
          Charles Tew, President
          Wake Republican Men’s Club

      2. You are so right about the NRA’s endorsements. I remember when they endorsed ultra-liberal-progressive, Jim Hunt, for governor. They could not have possibly made an endorsement any worse than Hunt.

  2. Tillis will feel very comfortable in the swamps of the District of Corruption! I believe a new Conservative Party is inevitable.

    1. They could have stopped the Sotomayor and Kagan nominations….and did nothing. That was my departure moment. GOA is the way to go.

      1. I agree. GOA does not do all the beltway game playing which often leads NRA to sell out the strongest pro-gun candidates in close races.

        1. While it’s great to support any of the pro-gun groups, is it the GOA that sends legislators running like cockroaches when they hear that a vote will be “scored”? Is it the JPFO that causes policy shifts based solely on their “official statements”? Support every group you can, but the NRA, despite their many missteps throughout the years, is the 800lb gorilla in Washington. If they can effect major change based upon the strength of their 4 Million membership, imagine if even half of the est 40 million gun owners were members. The NRA may not directly speak for everyone, but they do more to advance gun rights than any other group in America. Even if you don’t like this or that policy, or disagree with their support of candidate “x”, every gun owner should be an NRA member if only to sustain the adage that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  3. I watched that debate from beginning to end.

    Please tell me when Nathan West portrayed himself as a “wide-eyed innocent political novice?

    I don’t remember that ANY of the audience questioners described their political knowledge/leanings during the debate.

    Sounds to me that your complaint is better directed at TimeWarner if you believe they picked West to assist Tillis.

    Unless, of course, you are suggesting that Tillis was the ONLY campaign that had audience members supporting them and/or made it into the audience. If that is correct, then it seems your complaint should be directed to the campaigns of the other candidates for being asleep at the wheel and not sending people themselves!

    just my thoughts!

  4. Mayor Bloomberg is spending $50 million dollars to limit the influence of the NRA. He obviously thinks they have some measure of political clout.

    And being realistic I would think that most Republicans running for statewide office in North Carolina would welcome the endorsement of the NRA.

    I am sure there are other “gun rights” groups but it seems to me that the NRA is the most widely known.

  5. Glad you dug into this question.

    I was sitting right above Mr West in the balcony at the debate. When his name was announced, the first thing that popped into my head was a recent twitter exchange he had with Nick Dyer – campaign strategist for Dr Brannon. On April 17th and 18th they had an extensive back and forth about the polling numbers and Speaker Tillis joining the debate in Davidson with @NWestAVL playing the role of attack dog on behalf of the Speaker.

    Convenient that someone of the same name was allowed to ask one of only three questions from the audience – especially, since the question was very specifically worded and Speaker Tillis happened to use it as the one time he specifically targeted Greg Brannon with a response. Regardless of whether or not his selection as a questioner was planned or a coincidence, it would seem likely that the specific nature of the question was not a surprise to the Speaker.

    1. Still have no clue what the problem of any of that would be. Whoever our nominee is, he or she BETTER be able to handle any questions even softballs like the gun control question was.

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