Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Time for a real debate, Ms. Perdue

Note: On Monday the Perdue campaign challenged the Moore campaign to a debate. More at the end of this post.

The folks who run Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor have carefully kept her away from appearances that might give her primary opponent, State Treasurer Richard Moore, a chance to confront her directly on political issues.
She’s making plenty of appearances, including televised forums and other public sessions where candidates answer questions posed by moderators or the public. She’s campaigning hard.
But unlike the U.S. presidential races that created so much excitement nationally, and even unlike the N.C. Republican gubernatorial primary candidates who’ve taken part in a number of sessions that include some head-to-head questioning of one another, the Perdue campaign has avoided anything like a classical debate.
There is an online one-hour “debate” set for Monday evening at 7:45 p.m. on, a Web site with a lot of blog postings by those interested in public affairs. Click here for a link.
I asked the Perdue campaign via e-mail if it would consider a head-to-head debate.
Said Perdue spokesman David Kochman, “I don’t recall any of the events we’ve been invited to including a dedicated segment for the candidates to directly challenge each other, but I think both candidates did directly challenge each other in 3 of the 4 previously televised debates.”
But those weren’t debates. They were joint appearances without much opportunity for give-and-take among the candidates.
That’s probably wise politics from the campaign’s viewpoint. Perdue is generally regarded as the front-runner, and a tradition among some North Carolina Democrats – not all – is to keep the front-running candidate away from challengers. In 1992, for instance, two-term Gov. Jim Hunt was making a comeback and running for a third term after being out for eight years. His campaign advisers kept him away from a debate with challengers including then-Attorney General Lacy Thornburg, now a federal judge, until fairly late in the campaign, when Hunt agreed to a debate sponsored by the Charlotte Observer. He dominated that debate, as I recall, and rolled to a primary victory.
But it isn’t good for voters who don’t get to see how the candidates would fare against one another in a setting where the candidates can ask questions of one another and debate issues point-by-point. In a campaign where the two essentially agree on quite a lot of issues, it would be helpful to see how the candidates handle themselves. Unless something changes, that won’t happen.
This is silly. Bev Perdue is an accomplished legislator, a decent public speaker and candidate for leader of a state of 9 million people and growing. There’s no good reason she shouldn’t take part in a debate with other candidates in both the primary and the general elections, and show voters how she performs under fire.
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have sometimes mesmerized and energized voters with their debates and sometimes sharp exchanges. And Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob Orr, Fred Smith, Pat McCrory and Bill Graham have put their views on the line as well.
I’m betting Bev Perdue would do well against any of these candidates in a more formal debate setting.
After all, she’s presided over a Senate that included the likes of Hugh Webster, Tony Rand and Marc Basnight. I expect she can handle whatever Richard Moore has to say, too. But unless something changes we’ll never know.

Postscript: Here's what the Perdue campaign put out Mondayu morning:
Perdue Challenges Moore to 7th Debate to confront sleazy attack ads

Also demands release of public records withheld for eight months

In a letter to the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, Bev Perdue has challenged Richard Moore to a seventh debate. Perdue has asked the broadcasters’ association to oversee the process to ensure a statewide televised audience.

“After seeing the sleazy personal attacks in Richard Moore’s most recent ad, I want an opportunity to look him in the eye to confront him with the facts,” said Perdue.

“And because the debate is supposed to be about our ideas and our records, I call on Richard to release all of the public documents we have requested – documents that he has failed to provide for more than eight months. If we’re going to have a debate about our records, then it’s time for Richard Moore to come clean regarding the missing public records and the sweetheart deal he gave to State Insurance Services.”

Missing public records:

(* denotes documents first requested July 20, 2007)

Copies of the daily schedules and/or visitor logs for State Treasurer Richard Moore -from January 6, 2001 to the present.*
Travel and expense reimbursements (including copies of receipts) submitted by or paid to Richard Moore from January 6, 2001 to the present. *
Records of any state-owned or state-leased vehicles used by Richard Moore, including but not limited to mileage logs and accident reports from January 6, 2001 to the present*
unclaimed property contracts*
legal services contracts*
pr/lobbying contracts*
Letters declaring support or opposition to legislation*
Records regarding the contract awarded to State Insurance Services and any complaints that have been filed regarding policies sold by SIS


Anonymous said...

One is left to think that perhaps she either fears Richard Moore, or she has a deep, dark secret he's likely to uncover.

I am a lifelong Democrat. I won't be voting for her. My intuition tells me that there's just something unsavory about her. I wish I knew exactly what that was.

Anonymous said...

Another is left to think that Moore is begging for media attention, and a televised appearance with Perdue would give it to him. After his repeated slams of her -- straight from Karl Rove's textbook -- I don't fault her for not giving him an inch.

I too am a lifelong Democrat. I wish there was better evidence that Moore was. His choices and behavior make it clear what's unsavory about him.

Let's remember that Moore intended to run against her in 2000 for Lieutenant Governor, until Harlan Boyles announced his retirement -- and Moore concluded that a term or two as state treasurer would afford him an easier springboard to the mansion.

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