by Paul Goldman
As a general rule, an improving jobs picture nationally means that states like Virginia are going to be doing even better. The GOP 2012 strategy is anchored in blaming Democrats for the state of things economic.
I read last night the transcript from the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, a fascinating read. The two future Presidents – the only time this has ever happened – debated domestic issues. Same debate more or less, 52 years ago! But then: The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Kennedy had the best of the argument, in part because of the 1958 recession putting the incumbent party on the defensive. He ran in the 8th year of the Eisenhower term, meaning Nixon couldn’t defend by blaming Harry Truman.
Thus, the takeaway from the most famous debate encounter of all, the only one between two men not yet elected President: given the trend of today’s job’s report, as long as the public’s view of the economic continues to improve, Virginia will stay in the Democratic column except for some unpredictable event.
The “Tim Obama” mantra from George Allen won’t work in that environment.
In 2000, George Allen tried the “Chuck Gore” rap in his campaign against then Senator Chuck Robb. Mr. Allen ran more than a percentage point behind George Bush, who carried Virginia that year.
The rap against Nixon back then is that he didn’t go ideological enough, something evident from the debate transcript. Was it mistake? In reading the transcript, I have to agree: Nixon fell flat, he came across too much the moot court debater, answering the charges well, but no music as they say.
Kennedy had the music, his 8 minute opening – off the cuff – was great, and it was the first view the audience got of either man.
I want to watch the video version tonight, but I know get why he did well: it sounded like the JFK in his famous Inauguration Speech, the guy had the gift. No wonder Nixon was in awe of him.
Reading the debate transcript, I have a hard time believing the stories that Kennedy lost to those listening on the radio unless his voice turned people off. There is no real data to support that urban legend.
Anyway, back to Kaine vs Allen: unless the economy goes South, Kaine is going up North to DC as the next Senator.