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Friday, September 01, 2006

Kennedy-Klobuchar debate

They debated at the State Fair today. I didn't hear any of it, but here are stories.

Kennedy's attack on Klobuchar for investing in mutual funds that hold shares in oil companies is pretty pathetic. The whole point of a mutual fund is to invest in a wide array of companies; low-fee index funds that invest in all of the companies making up the S&P 500 or the Wilshire 5000 are great low-cost ways to invest your money, and of course they are going to have money in oil companies. What a sad attack.

Other than that, I don't have much comment. For people who actually saw or heard the debate, how did it sound?


At 11:58 PM, September 01, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

[Opening music.]

Eichten preemptively admonishes audience not to preface their questions with rambling, self-indulgent speeches. Hail Herr Eichten! His word is true and just.

Eichten introduces the candidates. Sounds like Klobuchar had the most supporters in the audience.

From the opening statements:

KENNEDY: "How about a CPA for a change? I would be the only CPA in the Senate, and I think one look at the budget tells you we need at least one CPA in the U.S. Senate."

KLOBUCHAR: "And, you know, Congressman Kennedy, I don't know who would want to hire an accountant that took a $200 billion surplus and turned it into a $300 billion deficit."

One point for Klobuchar.

At 12:03 AM, September 02, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

Eichten recites litany of problems in Iraq and asks, "Is it time to set a troop withdrawal deadline?"

KENNEDY: "The focus has to be on victory, and not on how quickly we can retreat from the war on terror." Iraq central front in WOT, cannot accept defeat, can't allow terrorists to "regroup and attack us again", can't let Iran meddle in Iraq, we need electronic surveillance, "If Al Qaeda is calling America, we need to know about it."

FITZGERALD: "It sounds like the gloves are coming off up here." Admonishes audience not to cat-call. Calls for "immediate withdrawal."

KLOBUCHAR: Lotta nuance. Claims she opposed starting Iraq war, badly implemented, but now we're there, etc. Supports withdrawing some troops this year to begin "transition." "You know, I think we need to send someone to Washington who is not going to be a rubber stamp of the president's policies in Iraq. We want someone who's gonna go there who's gonna ask the tough questions."

KENNEDY: Complains about people pointing out his near-lockstep support for Bush. Calls it "negative campaigning." Trys to spin it as Democrats attacking his parents. Says Democrats ducking issues, obsessed with Bush. "Well, last time I checked, it's my name on the ballot, and we should be talking about 'Where does Mark Kennedy and Amy Klobuchar stand?'" Says Klobuchar opposed defense spending bill. "Supporting the troops is always my first priority."

KLOBUCHAR: "[Minnesotans] want to know how someone's gonna behave as a Senator and how they're gonna vote in the U.S. Senate, and I think they have a right to know someone's record. And if someone is claiming they're an independent in TV ads, and in fact, they voted 92% of the time with George W. Bush when he's still gonna be the president, I think that's a relevant fact...Of course I support the troops, and that's just outrageous, for you to imply that I didn't-"

KENNEDY: "I'm not implying it. That's what you said."

KLOBUCHAR: Ramstad voted against same bill. Shouldn't be playing politics by connecting defense to ANWR. Supports funding for body armor and VA benefits. "It is this leadership that has not been following through for our troops."

FITZGERALD: Why are troops going over without body armor? "Mark, you had six years to make sure they had body armor." Says he's talked to Iraq veterans at State Fair who told him about lack of equipment and wasteful spending on private contractors.

Kennedy tries to cram every right-wing "national security" talking point in his first answer. He doesn't sound very moderate or independent, but then again, "national security" is supposed to be the GOP's best issue. Klobuchar trys to make clear she dislikes the war, but not get pigeonholed as "defeatist" too easily. Klobuchar doesn't take attacks lying down like Wetterling did two years ago. She fires right back at Kennedy. Fitzgerald scores with personal anecdotes about soldiers. Nobody really explained what the defense spending/ANWR bill was about very well. Listeners may have been confused by that part.

At 5:30 PM, September 02, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like somone to ask Kennedy: "If the War in Iraq is so important to our national security, how come none of your military age children are in Iraq?"

He sure doesn't want to support the War enough to let his kids go into the Army. You would think he had raised some patriots instead of the begging for an allownace types we see on the TV.

At 12:18 AM, September 03, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

One thing about political "debates" is that they're different than stump speeches. Klobuchar excels on the stump. Kennedy, not so much. Political debates are partly about charisma, but they're also heavily about projecting a sense of certainty and the ability to bully your opponent. And in this sense, Kennedy's skills seem more evenly matched with Klobuchar's.

That said, just a few more general observations from the debate.

1) Wow, Mark Kennedy is one nasty human being. The guy has always seemed to me to be carrying around a huge aircraft carrier-sized chip on his shoulder about something or other. There was a lot of anger in his voice for the entire hour. Don't get me wrong, Kennedy's not a yeller, or someone who gets excited, or red-faced. I'm talking about a very cold anger seething behind his eyes. The proprietor of this site knows what I'm talking about. Think John Hinderaker. Kennedy was almost all negative attacks on Klobuchar, some of them unusually personal, and then near the end, he says, "I'm not as good at complaining, I'm not as good at criticizing..."

2) Amy Klobuchar speaks quickly and with passion, although it wears a bit thin on me after a while. Her lines usually sound good the first time you hear them, but I've heard them a lot before. She did have a new one, though, in her closing statement, something about FDR's funeral train. I cringed a couple times when she seemed to be showing weakness by responding too readily to Kennedy's aggressive questioning about the energy bill or where she differed from Dayton, Ted Kennedy, or Howard Dean. That last one especially was a bullshit question, especially since it's irrelevant by Mark Kennedy's own logic (their names aren't on the ballot), but she let him bait her into responding as if it were serious and sounded uncomfortable doing it. Dammit, Amy, don't do that! But she bounced back pretty quickly and usually she gave as well as she got. I think if you laid out the positions she took versus the ones Kennedy took and had people vote solely on those, Klobuchar would win. But hey, let's not open up that discussion again;)

3) Fitzgerald was surprisingly smooth for an independent with no money and no political background. He went after Kennedy much more than Klobuchar and sounded like he'd be very comfortable in the DFL Party. I agreed with him on most issues except that he buys into all the bogus doomsday scenarios about Social Security, and he was a bit too vague on health care to know if I agree with him or not.

At 12:34 AM, September 03, 2006, Anonymous Chris said...

Just for one last taste of this, here was the part of the debate where the candidates asked each other questions.


KENNEDY: We’ve heard for two years now, and here at this debate, that one of the central themes for Amy is demonizing the oil companies, how they’re ripping people off, and how they’re lining their pockets. And yet, when you look at the financial reports that both – that all of us here filed, I’m wondering if you are troubled by the fact that there’s an inconsistency between you demonizing oil companies as a central part of your campaign, and the fact that your largest single holding in your mutual funds is Exxon-Mobil?

KLOBUCHAR: Congressman Kennedy, I think a lot of people are aware that mutual funds invest in a bunch of different things. And I’ll be honest, I don’t know where all the different investments are from my mutual funds that I’ve had over the years. I didn’t know that they invested in Exxon Oil.
But I think one thing that is much more directly connected is the fact that you are running an ad saying you want to go after the oil companies when in fact, you’ve taken $55,000 from oil company PACs for your campaigns over the years. So, in effect, the oil companies are paying for the ad that you’re saying you’re gonna take on the oil companies. And I don’t think this was the best question for you to ask, Congressman Kennedy.


KLOBUCHAR: You know, I’d like to go back to health care again, and I’d like to know two of the things that I think would be most helpful for prescription drugs, as I’ve said, are to open up the cap on negotiations with the prescription drug companies, and to allow reimportation from Canada. And there are Republicans in this state, like Gil Gutknecht and others, who favor the reimportation of drugs from Canada. You voted against it, and I’d like to know why you don’t favor opening up the cap on negotiations with prescription drug companies, which would bring in $90 billion, and why you don’t favor reimportation of drugs from Canada.

KENNEDY: Well, my advice, Amy, would be to follow the money. As somebody who talks about following the money all the time, I would follow the money to see what was in my mutual funds, and I would expect – I would expect somebody that had an education at Yale and Chicago Law School would be able to figure that out. And when you talk about special interests, over half –

KLOBUCHAR: Are you gonna answer my question, Congressman?

KENNEDY: I will answer your question after I answer your charges. Over half a million dollars from EMILYS List, that funnels money from across the country to ultra-liberal candidates.
Let’s talk about your question. We put forth choices in the prescription drug bill that, in the end, they estimated would result in $8 billion less cost to the government than the government-negotiated best price in Medicaid. But as a result, it came in lower. It came in lower cost than expected for the seniors, it came in lower cost expected for government, because, instead of having this one-size-fits-all, government-imposed health care on the people, we gave them choices, we let plans compete with each other to provide the highest-quality, lowest-cost plan to seniors, and in the end, we got lower cost for both parties.
As it relates to reimporting, I have voted, if it’s individuals taking the risk on themselves, to allow them to do that, but we cannot set aside the safety concerns and not make sure that we have not taken every step necessary to make sure that they are safe. That is already allowed for, to let safe drugs come in that have been approved by the FDA. We can’t put the health of our seniors at risk.

KLOBUCHAR: So you think Governor Pawlenty is endangering the health of the people of our state?

[Kennedy didn't answer that question.]

At 3:55 PM, September 04, 2006, Anonymous bestfriend said...

I heard the entire debate live on the radio, and Klobuchar kicked butt! She had a comeback for every stupid line of Kennedy's, she backed down on nothing, and showed a great command of the issues. She's a fighter! I was supporting her before but now I'm REALLY proud - glad to have her out there representing us!


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