Friday, October 22, 2010

Final Iowa Governor's Debate, Shawn Johnson

And Then There Were None: 2 candidates, 3 debates. And now they are finished. So what did you think of the third and final Iowa governor's debate? I must say, I thought this was my favorite of the three by far. And there is no question, the voters won this debate. Sure, it's fun for us tv folks to do a story on how the candidates kept shooting one-line zingers back and forth. But that's about all we had from the first two debates. This third debate featured much more. And kudos to Kathie Obradovich from the Des Moines Register, O. Kay Henderson from Radio Iowa and Dean Borg from Iowa Public Radio (and, of course, Dan Miller and his gang at Iowa Public TV for hosting the event). The format was great. Moderators asked something like 25 questions. Graphics were good. Followups were good. They talked about the future and not just how each candidate's past sucks. We viewers/voters actually learned something! Who knew?

You can watch the entire debate at I thought Chet Culver's biggest hit may have been on two statewide questions for voters, the trust fund for the environment and the retention vote for the three Iowa Supreme Court justices. Culver said he would support the ballot question for the environment and he would retain all the justices. Terry Branstad wouldn't answer either question. He said he has taken the position not to try to influence Iowans on those issues. Culver pounced on that answer (or lack thereof, depending on your viewpoint) both during the debate and in the "post-game". He said, "governors lead".

I thought Branstad's biggest hit may have actually come AFTER the debate. Culver has hit Branstad almost daily for the past week or so on where he will cut 15% from the budget as he has pledged. Branstad hasn't released a detailed list of spending cuts to get to that target. Culver has tried to make points how devastating 15% cuts would be to public service, for one, citing how that will raise crime. I don't recall him saying this when he cut all departments 10% last year. After the debate, Branstad seemed to admit he doesn't have all the cuts figured out. He said, unlike Culver, he would hold budget hearings and meet with department heads and lawmakers to cut up with 3% cuts for each of the next 5 years. He said Culver is assuming he would be doing an across-the-board cut like Culver did. And Branstad said, no, he would not be doing that. Here are both men in the post-game.

So who won? I saw no staggering. No bleeding. Does that mean no earth-shattering, jaw-dropping, holy cow, did you see that moments? Did you? Did Culver's performance earn him standing with voters as he tries to close the gap in the campaign's final days? Is it too little too late? Did Branstad have the ideas and vision to convince Iowans he is best-suited to move back into the governor's mansion? What did you think?

ShawnJohn: West Des Moines native and gold medal gymnast Shawn Johnson is blowing up the internet apparently. She did an interview with the BBC. Yahoo had her listed as one of the most talked about topics. And her own website couldn't handle all the traffic for a while. Shawn tells the BBC about her loneliness now that she has moved back home with her parents, while her friends have gone off to college. She has canceled her celebrity appearance schedule to focus on training four hours a day, six days a week. And she also admits she doesn't know if she can make it back to the world stage. It's a fascinating interview. Good luck, Shawn!

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