Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Gilchrist v. Campbell On John & Ken -- Another View

I enjoyed reading Silence Dogood's take on last night's Campbell/Gilchrist debate. Silence is a Gilchrist-leaner, but a I greatly respect his/her judgment and ability to maintain objectivity (although I think his bias toward Gilchrist still managed to seeped in somewhat).

Here's my take on the debate, and since I am a strong Campbell supporter, I'm sure some of that bleeds through.

Campbell effectively rebutted charges that he's soft on illegal immigration by confronting his past bad votes, and pointing out his role in the repeal of the illegal alien drivers license bill, and qualifying the California Border Police initiative. I think most 48th CD voters who heard the debate, hadn't already voted absentee and were planning on voting today would accept the argument that a couple of old, bad votes do not obliterate what is a very good, conservative record on illegal immigration.

I heard Gilchrist talk about why he's an AIP. He came off as halting and sounded like a guy trying to get his story straight. He failed to directly answer why he was in the AIP and soon was floundering and blaming Arnold and state election law for the consequences of his decision to be a registered member of the American Independent Party. Luckily for Gilchrist, J & K stepped in to rescue him by getting him back on the topic of illegal immigration -- at which point Gilchrist became more animated, confident and articulate. At least Campbell dealt directly with his in-state tuition for illegal immigration vote. One Gilchrist strength is he seems like a straight-shooter, so when he waffles and spins as he did when answering the AIP question, it makes the spinning and waffling more pronounced.

When J & K asked Campbell is he was going to be a "David Dreier." Campbell responded in an informed, articulate manner, and didn't allow himself to be baited by the boorish Gilchrist supporters.

Conclusion: Gilchrist didn't hurt himself, and probably helped himself a little bit. Campbell didn't didn't hurt himself, either, and probably helped himself as well. He effectively refuted the "soft on illegal immigration" charges, and sounded like an informed, experienced elected official who can immediately start functioning as an effective Congressman. Gilchrist came off as Howard Beal, with a touch of budding egomania ("I am a catalyst for change" and "I am the consequence of a Republic that has been vicitmized...")

The behavior of Gilchrist supporters jeering, booing and laughing in the background throughout the debate comes off badly and only elicits listener sympathy for Campbell. Gilchrist would have scored some points for poise and maturity by asking his supporters to be quiet and respectful of everyone's right to speak out because they as supporters of Gilchrist and the Minuteman Movement they know what it is like to be jeered, booed and hooted down.

Soft or undecided 48th voters listening to last night's debate would have heard two candidates who sounded tough on illegal immigration, but most would come away thinking Campbell -- not Gilchrist -- sounds like a congressman. And that despite debate moderators (J & K) who held Gilchrist's hands throughout the forum.

In the end however, the timing of this debate means it will have minimal impact on the outcome of today's election.