There are supposed to be four debates in the Idaho gubernatorial campaign upcoming, and if the first - in Idaho Falls, Thursday - is a reasonable guide, the next three ought to be entertaining at least. And something of a marker of the real differences between Republican Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and Democratic candidate Keith Allred. Who "won" may depend on the world view you bring with you; what you got was a fair representation of both candidates.
(No full video of the event, backed by the Idaho Falls City Club, seems to be available. But Idahoans and others can listen for now at least to a stream uploaded by . . . someone, to an online storage site. Of that ogg vorbis stream doesn't float your browser, there's an mp3 available too.)
A generic gripe: Both tossed in so many references to the "founding fathers" that you began to wonder if either of them really understands that the year is 2010, not 1790. But then, this is an Idaho Falls audience.
Otter has traditionally gotten underrated as a debater, but over the years he has consistently shown some skill at it, and did again on Thursday. He sounded a little bombastic, often, and an angry tone seemed to seep in regularly; he only occasionally sounded like the happy warrior of yore. (He's mostly having to defend now, not launch a crusade.)
But he slipped in some neat jabs at Allred, notably at the Democrat's proposals to chop out some as-yet-unnamed sales tax exemption, which Otter routinely described as tax increases (which as a matter of practice is what they would be).
At one point in a rebuttal, Otter delivered a question to Allred, and Allred - stepping outside the debate rules - went ahead and answered it. To which Otter slipped in, "That doesn't mean under the rules you get to reply" - drawing laughter.
But Allred got some laughter of his own (and showed off his own debate skilled) when he quickly answered, "It's good to do this with a career politician who has learned all the tricks." (more…)