Editorial: Chris Murphy is clear winner of Senate debate at UConn
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2012 21:10
On Thursday, candidates Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon met at UConn for the second debate of the campaign for Connecticut’s open Senate seat. The event drew a large crowd, despite competing with Lip Sync for UConn students, and was also streamed online. Just as with the first debate on Sunday, October 7, Representative Chris Murphy walked away the clear winner.
With the debate moderators asking questions on topics that had already been discussed at the prior debate, little new ground was covered. However, a few new issues did emerge, including criticisms of McMahon not voting in many local and state elections. Murphy successfully used this fact to build upon his campaign’s characterization of McMahon as someone who only cares about her own political ambitions, not about government or public policy.
This was just one example of Murphy exercising control over the direction of the debate, and engaging with the audience much better than his opponent. The only applause during the event was after Murphy called out McMahon for ignoring the issues while focusing her campaign on “character assaults.” McMahon was not able to connect with the audience as well, and the only strong reaction she got from the debate’s attendees was laughter after feebly stating, “Well, I did eventually pay,” after being criticized for only paying off her decades-old debts when they came into the spotlight during the campaign.
Rather than adapt to the unexpected and use it to her advantage, McMahon seemed to rely too heavily on the talking points from her own commercials and email blasts. She was unable to deftly respond to questions and criticisms, coming off as rather insincere and weak. This was even acknowledged by those intending to vote for her, with a McMahon supporter telling the Hartford Courant in a post-debate interview, “She’s not someone who debates real well. Not a criticism of her ideas or her policies, but the debate format does not flatter her as a way of presenting what she believes.”
While we believe Murphy won last Thursday’s debate, there are many more to come. Tonight at 7 p.m., the two candidates will meet in New London for a debate co-sponsored by The Day newspaper and WTNH. The final debate of the election, sponsored by the Connecticut Broadcasters Association, will take place Thursday at 4 p.m.
Debates are an important part of campaigns. They not only help voters find out what each candidate believes, but also serve as a way to see how well a person would represent us in government. A huge chunk of a senator’s job is debating with other senators about which bills to pass and what should be included in each bill. No matter how good a candidate’s ideas are, if they cannot coherently present them and skillfully respond to criticisms, they will not be able to make those ideas a reality.
However, a senator’s ability to turn his or her ideas into government policy is only a positive if you agree with those ideas in the first place. When deciding who to vote for this November, students should do their own research on the candidates’ positions on the various issues currently affecting Connecticut residents.