Workmanlike, but not quite the Lincoln-Douglas debates... this was theme in three accounts of last night's Centennial Institute candidate forum. Kristen Wyatt of AP noted the rivals' sameness. Blogger Don Johnson was underwhelmed, while Ron Michel, his Arapahoe County neighbor, went further and expressed dismay. But the fact remains, as noted in this morning's Denver Post, that we scored a first as far as putting the four main GOP contenders on the stage together. This stands as a bookend with the "last" scored a week ago, when Josh Penry made his final campaign appearance opposite Scott McInnis and Dan Maes before quitting the race on Tuesday. Here's how Wyatt, Johnson, and Michel saw the Nov. 10 non-shootout shootout:
Colorado's GOP Senate hopefuls sound similar
Grand Junction Sentinel, Nov. 10
By Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press
LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Four Colorado Republicans running for the U.S. Senate did little to differentiate themselves in a forum where they agreed on every topic.
Talking before a friendly conservative crowd in Lakewood, the Republicans saved their barbs for Democrats in Washington. They didn't criticize each other, and none of them even mentioned Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who holds the seat they're after and is facing re-election next year.
Former lieutenant governor Jane Norton said Congress is spending too much. The sentiment was echoed by the other candidates: Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, former state Sen. Tom Wiens and business Cleve Tidwell.
All said the key to Republican success next year was to seize on dissatisfaction with Washington.
Jane Norton, Ken Buck, Tom Wiens put on a good show
By Donald Johnson - BusinessWord.com
Colorado GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate put on a good show for some 240 supporters at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood Tuesday night.
Everybody was prepared. Nobody flubbed any lines, and they agreed that
Republicans have to return to their principles and be proud that they are Republicans.
All eyes were on Jane Norton, the former Lt. Governor under Governor Bill Owens. She performed flawlessly and had ready answers for the rather broad questions posed by a panel of three.
Former state representative and senator Tom Wiens made his debut as a candidate and proved that he is a big league campaigner.
Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck showed his court room skills and his knowledge of some of the nitty gritty problems with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s health spending bill HR 3962.
Retired businessman Cleve Tidwell demostrated his knowledge of domestic, world and energy economics, but he also showed he’s a political rookie. He didn’t make mistakes. He just didn’t sound as polished as the other candidates.
The candidates agreed that they don’t like the tax and spend frenzy that President Obama and Congressional Democrats are trying to impose on the country, and they don’t like the public option or much else about the health spending bill that the Democrats are trying to ram through Congress.
They also pretty much agreed that Obama must decide on his Afghanistan military strategy soon, and they believe the U.S. must stay in that country until regional stability is established and until Americans can leave the country in better shape than they found it in 2001.
The candidates weren’t asked about incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet, and no one mentioned him specifically. They’re all running against Washington, period.
Former Governor Bill Owens, former U.S. Senator Bill Armstrong and Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams all attended the talent show and seemed pleased with what they saw and heard. Armstrong is president of CCU.
The forum was moderated by the former president of the state senate, John Andrews. He was the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate in 1990 and now works at CCU.
Yawn... Give'em all a C
By Ron Michel firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no reason to write a lengthy review of tonight's Senate Forum. What's there to say? Senator John Andrews did his masterful job of moderating and his CCU student team were as professional as ever. Full house --200 or so including a welcomed surprise, Governor Bill Owens.
If I were to grade the candidates, it would have to be a warm-milk C. All did OK; mistakes were not made. Overall, it was a big yawn, a me-too gathering of wanna-bees... about as exciting as watching reruns of Mr. Rogers. All very nice, polite people that would bore the most ardent politico.
I would say that Senator Wiens might have come across as most polished. Norton seemed to rely on all well-known political sayings and suck-up comments about "doing what's good for the good people of Colorado." That part wasn't good. It was another yawn.
Buck and Tidwell both had a few minor positive points that we all have read or said and seemed to be voiced more for applause than a rallying point. I blame the tight format and strict time limits more than anything.
What I saw and heard tonight made me nervous, not confident. If this is the best we have to offer, we're in trouble. There was no emotion, no energy, no anger, no passion, no guts, no Tancredo -type dramatics. Nothing that would make one jump up from their seat and shout out " your damn right... I'm with you. Lets go kick some Democrat [booty]."
Just a thought, but I would like to see some political venue come up with a better format that would allow the candidates to really express themselves. Less rules, less constrictions. I want these people to bare their souls, to scream out how they feel about our country and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." I want to feel their passion, their commitment and their emotional leadership that will be reflected in giant win for Republican come 2010.