Liveblog of the April 13, 2012 Texas Senate Debate

Well, I’ve already been distracted by shiny objects, so I guess I’ll close this out. David Dewhurst was a very poor candidate tonight, and he better hope that not too many Republican voters were watching…

Leppert doesn’t excite the base (with some reason), but he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes either. You can see why he’s hanging around, but a Republican primary doesn’t play to his strengths.

To win, Cruz has to take the fight to Dewhurst, but in tonight’s debate he did it in a way that seemed too programmed and strident. Leppert’s “I’m not a lawyer” line may be a transparent dig at Cruz, but it still comes across as more subtle than some of Cruz’s attacks on Dewhurst. Cruz needs to pull back a little, be a bit less programmed, and a bit more spontaneous.

This debate left a lot to be desired from an organizational standpoint. I appreciate a full hour without commercial interruptions, but the “Here are some polling numbers, how can you possibly oppose them” questions were dumb even by the very slack standards of liberal MSM journalism.

Cruz didn’t win the debate, but Dewhurst certainly lost it. He got worse as the night went on. No wonder he avoids debates. He doesn’t think well on his feet, and he wasn’t prepared for some very obvious questions.

All three of the other candidates had both good and bad moments. Cruz is a good debater, but, as I’ve said before, his decision to always go back to his stock answers was a mistake. He did well on the Cuba question, but I think he would have done better answering the questions straight without always trying to use them to attack Dewhurst

James probably raised his stock more than the others by simply being no worse than Leppert or Cruz. His final speech tried to cram too much in too hard.

Leppert was polished, and came across as reasonable, but his answers tended to allude to positions that were too detailed to cover in the debate format.

James: Apartment boy eviction notice mayonnaise sandwich life story. (Impassioned speech, a little strong.)

Cruz: Attacks Dewhurst. “We need strong conservatives.” Record of conservative.

Leppert: Attacks Dewhurst, attacks Cruz.

Dewhurst: Most conservative Lt. Gov. (Big pause.) Life story. (He’s gotten worse as the debate has gone on.)

Slater brings up the budget-cutting question on Dewhurst. Shouldn’t you cut it in good times.
Dewhurst: Cut state spending. I cut state spending 2003, 11, 12, 13.
(Man, even I’m wincing in sympathy for Dewhurst on this.)
Dewhurst: General revenue decline 10.7%

Asking Cruz the Cuba dictator question.
Cruz: Knocks the question out of the park. DMN retracted.

Hmmm. Washington Mutual question for Leppert.
Leppert: (Very slightly rattled, but recovers quickly.) WAMU’s problems were already in place, and mandated. (Then dances away for his businessman shtick.)

SA reporter on gay civil unions. (Clip of James opposing gay marriage.)
James: All of us will be accountable to God. I do support marriage between a man and woman.
SA Reporter: You’re letting your faith get in the way of (following some liberal poll)
James (doesn’t back down)

Leppert to Dewhurst: You raised more lobbyist money than Nancy Pelosi and (didn’t catch), (And…was there an actual question.)
Dewhurst: Rambling answer “I’ve always done what is right”???????

Cruz To Leppert: Dewhurst wage tax? Did Dewhurst cut or increase the budget?
Leppert: I might as well let you ask the question to Dewhurst. (knives Cruz about his career as a lawyer) To you business is academic, to me it’s a living.
Dewhurst: I have always opposed a state income tax. The facts are wrong. Fed vs. Texas dollars.

James to Cruz: Why didn’t you support Santorum.
Cruz: Santorum is a great conservative. But I wanted to let the voters decide. We need strong conservatives to take the Senate.

Dewhurst just had a senior moment asking whether Craig James would support Cornyn.
James: I’ll support anyone who supports the constitution and the 10 Commandments. (But he would support Cornyn.)
Cruz: I said it would be premature of me, but DeMint, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey all support me.

Candidates ask other candidates questions.

Reporter: 85% love this cherry-picked issue!
Leppert: Don’t invite the government in. (Then talks about how the government manages various sub-issues.)
Cruz: I don’t support then as mandates from the government. TAANSTAFL. Every mandate drives up the cost of health care to buy votes. (Cruz was about to hit a home run, and then went back to the European Dewhurst hit, and turned it into a triple.)
Dewhurst: I’m running for the senate, my opponents are running against David Dewhurst. We got the best stuff, but we can do better. (An ideologically incoherent answer.)

Austin reporter: Here are all the ways that ObamCare is awesome via this narrowly tailored polls.
James: 26 year olds love those provisions because Obama has destroyed the economy. (straddle)
Dewhurst: Democrats talk about more services. Improve health care outcomes and save money. (Revenge of the Vagues.) Ummm, uhhhh. Look at the cost.

James: Opposes the wall, supports sending troops to the border. Wall is not practical, (Oppose his answer, but I give him points for floating an answer that swims against conservative consensus.)
Dewhurst: Supports wall in some spots, but not all. Triple border patrol, a job program for returning vets. (?)
Leppert: (Ducks wall issue) Secure borders, put accountability in the system. Ask border guys what they need. Washington should supply the tools they want. (Don’t think that’s workable answer.)

Border wall question: Do you support?
Cruz: Yes. Triple border patrol. Opposed to amnesty. (Then the attack on Dewhurst.)
Dewhurst: I’ve always opposed amnesty. Cutting in line is wrong. (This concise format does not favor Dewhurst.)
Cruz: Dewhurst assigned bills to liberal democratic committee chairman. Washington plays this game all the time.

James: If an employer doesn’t want tor provide it, they shouldn’t be forced to. (The I’m a businessman schtick)
Reporter: (Liberal talking points on how mandated contraceptives are awesome)
James: It’s about freedom. And Democrats want us to talk about contraceptives rather than jobs.
Dewhurst: Opposes, talks about all the doctors he’s talked to, relatives, etc. Comes across even more scripted than Cruz.

Dewhurst: I’ve always supported, uh, permissive, free market alternatives

Cruz: No on contraception, violates religious freedom, is unconstitutional. (Cruz does have a tendency to go to his standard answers, which he does at the end here.)

San Antonio reporter: Contraception mandate.
Leppert: “The government was trumping individual freedom.”
Reporter: Required to mandate?
Leppert: No. Let patients and doctors make decisions.

James: Leave it to the military. (James is very good in this shorter format.)
James: Need major entitlement reform. MSAs, “This is working for middle class.” (sic)

Cruz: Fundamental entitlement reform, defense reform. (Then back to his points on Dewhurst increasing the Texas budget.)
Dewhurst: I’ve cut it 7-8 times, billions and billions of dollars, inflation + population growth.

Leppert: Rely on our armed forces, get congress out of it. Not questions here, detailed proposals.

Dewhurst: Opposed to the cuts Obama has proposed. Reform procurement.
So far the candidates are clashing more with the panelists than each other.
Dewhurst isn’t great, but so far he’s not awful.

Screw you, panelist, or the yes or no question. You suck
Panelist: Deficit. Cut defense? (no hands)
Cruz: Pork yes, defense no.
Poor job running the panel.

Mod: 1 minute answer, 30 second rebuttal.

Leppert: Why not debate? But the issue is a distraction.

Mod: Why haven’t you shown up?
David: I’ve shown up at a half dozen (Actually bout 3-LP) I have my campaign to run.

James: “Put me in an awkward position. It was unethical. I agree conceptual with Ted, because David hasn’t been showing up.”

Back to the Cruz text message before the debate.
Cruz: “I’m glad Craig got my text. Lt. Gov has chosen to skip 32 candidate forums. Leppert, James, and I attended. Not rigging.”

#belodebate on Twitter.

Just starting. Starting the debate with mention of the Cruz-James text issue.

Just waiting for the debate to start.

Tonight I’ll be liveblogging the debate between Ted Cruz, David Dewhurst, Tom Leppert, and Craig James at 7 PM.

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3 Responses to “Liveblog of the April 13, 2012 Texas Senate Debate”

  1. […] a roundup of coverage of the Texas Senate candidate debate I liveblogged on […]

  2. […] his repeated failures to show up at numerous candidate debates and forums across the country, but the Belo debate went a long way toward showing why exactly why Dewhurst has been avoiding such events: He’s […]

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