First off - my event was a smashing success. Things in Mason County are looking up already. Oodles of people and some great leads for young dem outreach. Also my first chance to test my speech delivery. I give myself a B. Better on content that style. But my peeps love me already, I think.
So then there's the debate. I haven't heard the early punditry yet, but I think the sense is that Edwards won by doing better against a seasoned veteran (sorta) but the practical outcome was a draw. Which I'll take - since that maintains the status quo (being Dems up, Reeps down). Reaction shots weren't quite as key this time - Edwards does it well, no doubt from awareness of jury eyes. Cheney maintained his level of visible peeve. But he won with the seating arrangment. He was an immoblile moutain of conviction. He filled the split screen well. And the camera man slow zoomed in on him several times while he answered questions (and slow zoomed out on Edwards at least once) - perhaps accidental, but led to an almost subconscious audience connection.
Each of these surrogates ran their principle's lines. Oddly enough, because Kerry did so well last week - his lines were so good, had such gravity - when Edwards echoed he sounded like he was .... echoing. Guess it's like what Bush said - we won so much better than we thought we would we couldn't win as well tonight. Crazy, dude, crazy.
I don't have the transcript yet - and it might be up - but since I'm barely up, bear with me until tomorrow - but I do believe there was at least one "labor" oriented question (perhaps a question and a follow up) where Cheney's response didn't even include the word "labor" once.
Also - at one point, Cheney retorts that he never said there was a link between Al-Q and Iraq, only that there was a link between Iraq and the war on terror (will have to confirm this tomorrow, there IS no transcript as of yet).
To which I say (and by I, I mean, the fruits of me pestering skilled oppo guy DT):
-- He delivered one of his typical speeches Friday at a dusty fairgrounds in Warrenton, Mo., about 40 miles west of St. Louis. Speaking of Hussein, Cheney said: "He provided safe haven for terrorists over the years. He was making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers, and he had a relationship with Al Qaeda, and Iraq for years was carried by our State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism." [LA Times, 9/27/04]
-- Cheney: "His regime has had high-level contacts with al Qaeda going back a decade and has provided training to al Qaeda terrorists." [Cheney Remarks, 12/2/02]
-- Cheney: "I think there's overwhelming evidence that there was a connection between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi government." [National Public Radio, "Morning Edition," 1/22/04]
Update - hmmm - seems Cheney said tonight:
--The senator has his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between iraq and 9/11. But there's clearly an established iraqi track record with terror. [tonight]
So does he win on semantics? Maybe. But there's more webcrawling to do on this one. And I think it's really, really splitting hairs if he draws a line between Al-Q and 9/11. We know they DID have something to do with THAT.
My officemate reports that many "flash" polls have Edwards at between 60% and 70% on the win side. I think we'll see those slide a bit by tomorrow (er, later today).
With my Mason County audience, Cheney's jobless answers to the job questions were greeted with laughter and incredulity at his disconnection from reality (and the moderator, apparently). They like Edwards's "I don't think the country can take 4 more years of you" comment. (correction: what he said was, "Mr. Vice President, I don't think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience." Which amounts to "you" but wouldn't be claimed as such.) They enjoyed Edwards, but I'm not sure they were as enthralled as they were with Kerry (slightly different crowd - different county - but similar demos - that's 'graphics and 'crats).
When they closed - Edwards got his small town lawyer on and I expected Cheney to say "vote for us or this puppy gets nuked, grrr, grrr."
It wasn't the show of Kerry v. Bush, Round 1, but it was solid. Cheney, though just as repetitious as Bush, didn't come off as wild-eyed and robatic. Edwards, filled with the same strong lines that weren't quite as fresh the second time out, came off as a pleasing counter to the screen-filling ogre of a Veep.
Some have called it boring. I call it a draw - mainly because of the now really bizarre expectations battle that keeps so many fine heads gainfully talking.
More tomorrow - after I have the transcript, some sleep, and a little more time to consider the event.