I swear I had to convince myself repeatedly that this was NOT a Saturday Night Live skit. The drive-bys subjected us AND the candidates with some moronic, leftist questions. The candidates hit us with a lot of consultant-crafted soundbites. On many occasions, they didn’t even actually answer the question. And, as tends to happen when politicians open their mouths, we had some truth-stretching.
The verdict. For regular readers of this site, you know that we’re not enthused by either of the two major party candidates. Though, there was a clear on-camera difference between Thom and Kay. Tillis, the Republican — putting aside his goofy facial expression when he was introduced —
appeared calm, cool and well-prepared. Senator Hagan, on the other hand, clearly lost her cool and spent a lot of time on the defensive. For those introduced to these two for the first time tonight, Tillis wiped up the floor with Hagan. She showed her true, screaming feminist colors. For those of us who know Thom a little better, we spent a good portion of an hour shaking our heads in disbelief. In the end, I think it is safe to say that Tillis helped himself tonight, while Hagan experienced a setback.
Contraceptives and Teacher recruitment. The debate spent a wee bit too much time on two subjects that the US Senate has no business getting involved in. I heard WAY more about birth control than I really care to. Hagan blasted Tillis for supporting The Hobby Lobby court decision and declared him bent on depriving women of birth control pills. Tillis — in one of his better moves — scolded her for confusing taxpayer support with access. Speaker Thom spoke in favor of transferring birth control pills to over-the-counter status — thereby reducing their cost and increasing the supply and availability. He blasted Hagan for being in the back pocket of big pharmaceuticals. (I can’t believe he really went there. Seriously? Have you seen the Tillis campaign financials? Have you been reading this site?)
One of the weirdest moments of the evening came when moderator Norah O’Donnell asked the candidates about public school teacher recruitment. Really? Is this a school board race, or a US Senate race?
BarryO in a dress. Kay Hagan cited her selection by National Journal as ‘the most moderate senator.’ She then descended into screeching, demagogic rants that evoked memories of Barry’s 2012 campaign stump speeches or California’s Barbara Boxer on any given day. Hagan badmouthed ‘tax cuts for the rich’ and trumpeted ‘fighting for the middle class.’ It’s not the best way to go when running for reelection in a state Obama lost in 2012 and filled with people who have lost their jobs and livelihoods thanks to Obama-nomics. If you’re going to spin that you’re ‘moderate,’ try saying something that sounds remotely moderate.
Thom Tillis, anti-Establishment. This part of the program was one of the hardest to swallow. Speaker Thom talked about working across the aisle and winning the confidence of his House colleagues so that they would later elect him speaker. Tillis got to the House by primarying and knocking off John Rhodes, a conservative GOP maverick, who regularly railed publicly against corruption in state government. Tillis was recruited by the notorious Charlotte ”uptown crowd” who were angry at Rhodes for talking terrible about their friend, House speaker Jim Black, and not bringing home more of other people’s money.
Tillis got elected Republican whip in his second term. His elevation and promotion was based, largely in part , on his connections with the big-money Chamber crowd in uptown Charlotte. From January 2011 to the present, Tillis called the shots about what did and did not happen in the NC House — hardly anti-establishment.
Tillis was recruited to run for the Senate by Karl Rove. His campaign report is loaded with cash from sitting senators and congressmen, DC-based lobbyists, and long-time GOP establishment donors from across the nation. Tillis has been attending, for months, fundraisers at the offices of DC lobbyists, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and The Capitol Hill Club. So, blasting ol’ Kay for being too close to the DC establishment is, um, a bit much.
Minimum Wage. Norah O’Donnell targeted Tillis by asking him if he thought a minimum wage of $7.25 in North Carolina was enough to live on. In a good move, Tillis derided the left for seeking a minimum wage society instead of getting the government out of the way and pushing for universal prosperity. Hagan twisted, to her advantage, an earlier comment from Tillis about people in western North Carolina not deserving the same wage as workers in Boston. I hate to lecture Madam senator. She spent a good chunk of her time telling us how smart she is, and how she used to be a bank vice president. During her time at the bank, I would have thought she might have learned something about the differences in cost of living in various regions of the country and world.
Tillis said minimum wage decisions need to be made at the local and state level. I would have preferred hearing him assign that duty to the free market itself.
The environment. Tillis blasted Hagan for supporting costly EPA regulations. Never mind that he backed alternative energy mandates in 2007 that jacked up utility bills. He even moved to kill an effort to repeal those mandates this past legislative session. *I guess some regulations that jack up costs and kill jobs — in the name of “saving the planet” — are OK.*
Moderate Rebels. How do you behave moderately, while, at the same time, being a rebel? Anyway, Hagan said she favored “weaponizing” moderate rebels in Syria. Whomever that is.
Amnesty. Tillis reassured his audience that he is no fan of amnesty for illegal aliens. He criticized Hagan for voting for the so-called ”Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill. Hagan responded by saying it was not about amnesty and more about border security. She pointed out that the bill was sponsored by Republicans Marco Rubio, John McCain (who endorsed Tillis), and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham (who also endorsed Tillis). Hagan blasted Tillis for not having “a plan.” The subjects brought up HERE conveniently didn’t come up during the debate.
ObamaCare. Tillis went after Hagan for saying repeatedly that you could keep your health plan, if you wanted to, under ObamaCare. Hagan responded by point out that she — upon realizing the,um, dishonesty of insurance companies — pushed through a law forcing insurance companies to make people’s health plans permanent. So, thanks to her, you could keep your plan.
Tillis also mentioned the roughly 475,000 North Carolinians who did not apparently have that option. Before you get too excited about the GOP nominee being an anti-ObamaCare warrior, remember that he pushed through the House legislation to establish an ObamaCare-inspired state health exchange.