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Neumann Edges Out Walker In First Debate

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on August 9, 2010

Last Friday, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann faced off on their first debate with just weeks to go before the primary election on September 14. The debate took place at the WTMJ radio booth at the Wisconsin State Fair, hosted by radio squawker Jeff Wagner.

I only listened to parts of it since I was busy packing and loading the car, plus I was getting quickly frustrated with Walker telling his usual lies and hypocrisies and Neumann not calling him out on them.

However, that doesn’t mean other people weren’t listening.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did not find much difference between the two.

Cindy Kilkenny live blogged it, and called it a draw.

Dean Mundy, the Thoughtful Conservative, is concerned about the negativity of the campaigns.

Even rabid Walker-supporter Aaron Rodriguez found himself giving Neumann several of the points. And the few points he gave Walker, such as buying into Walker not increasing spending, even though he did, with or without stimulus funds, makes it lean even more into Neumann’s favor. Rodriguez also gave this interesting point of observation that may end up hurting Walker more than he realizes:

On a more personal note, one issue that bothered me was Walker’s emphasis on instate tuition reimbursement for the children of illegal immigrants. It’s one thing to deny illegal immigrants government services because you don’t want to incentivize law breaking, but making it more difficult for innocent children, who have defied the odds and done well in school, to compete and do well in society because of what their parents years before is misguided.

Like Zach at Blogging Blue, I also received an email from the Neumann campaign claiming victory in the debate. It was obviously prepared in advanced since it arrived within minutes of the debate ending.

Cory Liebmann felt that Neumann lost the debate because he didn’t take a more assertive tone and press the issues with Walker’s long history of failure and hypocrisy. At first glance, I though Cory was onto something, and had much the same feeling.

I felt that Neumann missed some many golden opportunities, but that may or may not have been intentional. First of all, Neumann wasn’t exactly on friendly terrain. Wagner, like all the other squawkers on the Journal Company’s payroll, is a Walker-backer. And WTMJ has all but become a free source of endless advertisement for Walker’s campaign, between squawk radio, Patrick McIlheran’s screeds and the highly edited stories.

Neumann will have at least two more opportunities to take advantage, and those will be in venues that are more professional, less biased, and will reach a larger audience.

But because of the simple fact that Neumann went behind enemy lines, faced all the odds against him, and still came out with a draw, or even a slight lead, the advantage has to go to Neumann on this one.

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