September 25, 2003

THEN THERE WERE TWO:

No knock-out for Arnold, but he's still standing (Daniel Weintraub, September 25, 2003, Sacramento Bee)

Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger probably could have used this debate to establish himself as the front-runner and to put distance between himself and Bustamante. He didn't do that. But while he didn't knock any pitches out of the park, neither did he embarrass himself. He held his own in his first debate in big league politics, appearing fairly informed without forcing it, and that in itself might have been enough to position him strongly for the campaign's final 12 days.

Despite speculation that McClintock and Schwarzenegger would be at each other's throats, continuing their unofficial primary for the Republican vote, they had not a cross word for each other. Instead, they formed something of a tag team against Camejo and Huffington, and, to a lesser extent, Bustamante.

When the other candidates chastised Schwarzenegger for overstating the state's business woes, McClintock jumped in with a dissertation on the problem. A few minutes later, Schwarzenegger, when the subject came up again, said, "I agree with Tom. We have the worst business climate right now anywhere in the nation." [...]

Bustamante's tone, while more sedate, was more maddeningly condescending. While Huffington was criticizing the construction of a new prison in Delano as a $600 million waste of money, Bustamante tried to interrupt her to say that canceling the project wouldn't help pay for health or education programs because the prison was funded by special bonds. When she continued, Bustamante kept muttering, "Yes, Arianna, yes, Arianna," in a voice that a husband might use while sarcastically trying to placate his spouse. "Let me say this so you can understand it."

If I treated my wife that way I'd be sleeping on the couch. I have to think many women tuning in will put Bustamante in the same place when it's time to cast their votes.

In the end, the debate probably didn't change much in the race. Nobody did well enough to take control or poorly enough to disqualify themselves.

Schwarzenegger's adequate performance will probably increase pressure on McClintock to drop out or at least turn his fire away from his fellow Republican. Bustamante will still need to do far more to distinguish himself as a leader who can move up from his ceremonial post as lieutenant governor to the top job.


The thing is in a debate like this all Arnold has to do is show that he's of equal stature politically as his more experienced competitors. There are lawn gnomes that could pass such a test against Cruz Bustamante.

MORE:
Two leading Republicans endorse Schwarzenegger (ERICA WERNER, September 25, 2003, Associated Press)

Two leading California Republicans threw their support behind Arnold Schwarzenegger in the state's gubernatorial recall Thursday, a day after the political novice held his own in a barb-filled debate.

Former gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon announced Thursday that he was endorsing Schwarzenegger, and Rep. Darrell Issa, who bankrolled the drive to get the recall on the ballot, planned to do the same at an appearance with the actor Friday, a Republican source said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2003 9:00 PM
Comments

I didn't watch the debate but predictably those pulling for Arnold (Hugh Hewitt for example)say he won while those pulling for McClintock (NRO, other conservatives) say he won.
It appears the only question now is whether McClintock stays in and alienates the GOP and what type of attack campaign the Dems will unleash to try to defeat Arnold.

Posted by: AWW at September 26, 2003 9:40 AM

The first poling results are in for the debate. To nobody's surprise, Arnold won, Tom ran second, Cruz shrunk, Peter blahed, and EVERYBODY hates Arianna. The URL:

http://abclocal.go.com/images/kabc/CA030924PostDebate.pdf

You'll need the Acrobat reader. The demo details are interesting. Forget that nonsense about Arnold's "woman problem" because of his cracks about Arianna. Women like Arnold and hate Arianna about the same as men do.

Only question is whether Tom's personal grudges will continue to drive his spoiler campaign. My guess is that most Repub voters won't buy it. Tom should get out now if he wants any future in the GOP. Will his personal demons allow that?

Posted by: Casey Abell at September 26, 2003 10:16 AM

The remarkably thing about that poll is, if you look at the reactions of Democrats compared to those of Republicans, that the Republicans' tended far more similar to the general population than Democrats'.

Posted by: Timothy at September 26, 2003 11:03 AM

Casey - agreed. I just keep wondering, with the large amount of absentee ballots already filed, if McClintock has already played the spoiler even if he gets out before the election.

Posted by: AWW at September 26, 2003 11:06 AM
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