Sunday, May 27, 2012

FINAL VIRGINIA GOP SENATE DEBATE ANALYSIS

As many vacationers hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, Virginia candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate were focused on the final debate.  The Fairview Marriott of Falls Church was buzzing with activity and anticipation to hear how the four candidates would perform and position their campaign message leading to the June 12 primary.


Questions emerged from supporters and media prior to the debate if the same trend of performance would carry for all four candidates.  Many speculated if Jamie Radtke would continue to focus time on George Allen.  Many were excited to hear the passion of E.W. Jackson.  Allen supporters came out to hear the front-runner’s message.  And, what would Delegate Marshall offer to connect with voters?

This final debate introduced six questions for the candidates, and were delivered by moderator, Dr. Bob Holsworth.  The Republican Party of Virginia had asked voters to submit questions for the candidates through the RPV’s Facebook site.  The questions covered topics including:  regulations to eliminate to strengthen the economy, support for family insurance coverage up to age 26, their position on the recent General Assembly judicial bench decisions, their stance on a declaration of war, sequestration cuts to the defense budget, and the role of the federal government with education.  Each of the candidates provided opening and closing remarks.

This debate offered a stark twist to what many had observed from previous debates.  The main change-up was Jamie Radtke offering an even-tempered performance.  Absent were the shrill moments of previous debates.  Yes, she packed a volume filled delivery, but the verbal curve balls lobbed at Allen in the two former debates were absent.  E.W. Jackson, Bob Marshall and George Allen continued their debate performance on the mark and on message through the debate.

Jamie Radtke maintained an even keel approach to staying on her message as opposed to chiding Allen.  Her main theme throughout the debate was her focus on debt and deficit reduction.  She laced her comments back to her two-cent plan as she had in prior debates.  Radtke responded to how she would strengthen the economy by eliminating Obama care, ending the EPA & Department of Education, and by striking down the Dodd-Frank amendment.  She continued with the question of defense cuts by stating her two cents plan would contain our spending so we would not have to take draconian measures like Greece.  Radtke’s remarks on healthcare included block grants to states for Medicaid and support of the Paul Ryan plan to bolster Medicare.  Rounding out her answers, she remains opposed to activist judges. And, stated she would stand with the Constitution to have Congress issue a declaration of war.

Radtke, to many in the audience, seemed almost a different candidate.  Obviously, she chose to pull back the talons and to project a more statesman tone.  She stayed on her message.  There were a few opportunities she could have chimed in on George Allen, but she, for now, is letting her recent radio ad purchase do the talking.

George Allen took the podium with balanced responses and the character of the front runner.  He delivered a very upbeat and passionate introductory statement with more volume and gravitas than previously.

His intro concluded saying, “2012 is this generation’s rendezvous with destiny, and our freedom is in the balance.”

The former Governor delivered his principled conservative comments through the body of the debate.  Allen stated that the federal government’s role in defending our country should not be impeded by arcane defense cuts.  He touted his support of the Balanced Budget Amendment with Presidential line item veto as a key position to controlling spending and keeping government within its means.  His solutions for health care included health savings accounts, allowing businesses to pool funds to purchase insurance and giving authority to states to implement Medicare.  Allen’s comments about judicial appointments pointed out the importance of the Senate’s role in Supreme Court appointments.  He opposes the appointment of activist judges.

Allen stated, “I don’t want judges who will apply their own views.  I want judges to apply the law, not invent the law.”

Allen’s response to the role of federal government in education was well received by the audience.  He reviewed how education was a key part of his focus as Governor.  He stated how the states should have the primary role in administering education.  Allen continued with strong support of assuring students are provided the education that will give them technological skills to be competitive.

All in all Allen performed with resolved character and principles that befit the role of a conservative front-runner.

E.W. Jackson energized the room with his passion and respect for the Constitution.    His opening remarks led with his commitment that it is now time to end the tenure of ‘King’ Barack Obama.

He continued stating the future of America, “…is bowing to none, second to none, America is back!”

E.W. Jackson’s response to the Facebook questions demonstrated his belief in the Constitution and hope for America’s future.  He reeled off a list of departments he would end to curb spending and reduce federal regulation.  Including the EPA and  Departments of Education & Energy.  He continued citing outrage that the Obama administration is advancing a proposed, new real estate tax on individual property owners.  Jackson's solutions for health care pointed to the importance of job growth and a market based approach to assuring affordable insurance.  He stated his opposition to judges with a social agenda.

Continuing Jackson said, “(I would) put a hold on any judge that would not protect the sanctity of life.”

Overall, E.W. Jackson captured the attention of the audience and projected a persona that definitely has strength in the political arena.

Delegate Bob Marshall rounded out the final debate with a measured performance.  He delivered a more serious tone than prior debates.  He ditched the ice breakers from the first debate for a more purpose driven response.  Marshall’s opening remarks spoke his focus to protect the right to life and how he as a Senator would take action from day one.  Marshall indicated his solutions for health care included assuring insurance portability, stopping the ‘creeping tyranny’ of Washington and steps to assure medical school graduates understand the Hippocratic Oath with regard to the protection of life.  He spoke of removing the Department of Education with the federal government.  His position on student loans involves assuring the loans are paid in full and involving parents as co-signers for education loans.  Marshall’s comments on the declaration of war struck a chord with the audience.  He elaborated saying the pre-emptive policy gives enemies the same notion to attack the United States.  With spending reduction and reducing regulation, Delegate Marshall stated the need to repeal undue energy regulations like cap & trade.  His comments regarding judicial appointments echoed his sentiments from the General Assembly.

Delegate Marshall stated, “The oath of office is serious.  We need to stop activist judges.”

Marshall delivered on his solid, social conservative values in the final debate.  His passion and belief in the sanctity of life was a common thread.

As a wrap for commentary, this debate set the stage for the upcoming primary.  All four candidates delivered their message.  Jamie Radtke tempered her approach.  And, George Allen again emerged as the favorite staying true to his principles and values.

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