Just weeks away from Election Day 2010, candidates have begun facing off in debates – many for the first time. The mud is no longer being slung from afar, through television and radio advertisements, but face-to-face.
For many candidates, these debates are a last-ditch effort to gain points in the polls. Without media interference, the politicians are able to describe their platforms and attack their opponent’s. While this forum can be highly beneficial for some candidates, it can be harmful for others. There is no room for error, as voters judge their performances critically, analyzing everything from their words to their posture.
This past week, senatorial candidates Linda McMahon (R) and Richard Blumenthal (D) met in a heated debate, hosted by Bret Baier of Fox News. Both vying for Christopher Dodd’s Senate seat, McMahon and Blumenthal have repeatedly slammed each others’ records. McMahon has assaulted Blumenthal’s misstatements about his military service, while he has criticized her history as the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
The gap between Blumenthal and McMahon has gradually narrowed to 49 and 46 percent respectively, as reflected in a recent political poll. Thus, this debate was a vital opportunity for both candidates to attempt to gain an advantage. WWE, TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), and the national healthcare overhaul were a few of the issues on the evening’s agenda.
In regards to WWE, McMahon had come under fire for some of the more controversial aspects of the corporation. She refuted claims that WWE promotes violence against women, saying that viewers are well aware that wrestling is like a “soap opera.” McMahon also defended the wrestlers against allegations of steroid use. However, McMahon’s arguments do not address the heart of the matter: the deficiencies of her corporation reflect poorly on her ability to represent Connecticut in Congress.
Both candidates spoke about the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Commonly known as the Bailout Bill, this program outlined the governmental plan to buy out the mortgages of weak institutions. Blumenthal maintained his original opposition to TARP, arguing that it benefited Wall Street more than the common man. McMahon, on the other hand, took a wishy-washy stance. She claimed that she would have approved TARP “holding her nose” – so she disliked the bill but would have voted in favor anyway? McMahon continued to qualify her statement by saying that she would not have supported the car company bailouts. Unfortunately for McMahon, TARP minus the GM bailout was not an option.
The two candidates disagreed on the national healthcare overhaul as well. Though many Democrats have attempted to separate themselves from this issue, Blumenthal strongly supported the law. He called the overhaul a “good start,” while admitting that there was much work yet to be done. McMahon, on the other hand, criticized the law, calling it a “bad policy” that yielded a “bad product.”
Surprisingly, one issue the two politicians did agree on was the Tea Party. Though neither McMahon nor Blumenthal support the party, both candidates appreciate the passion it has brought to the political realm.
So who will win the seat on Election Day? Your guess is as good as mine.