Patricia Phillips - John Andrews Debate

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Writing interesting yet accurate and thorough accounts of current events in a remarkably timely manner is an enviable skill to have and one which I unfortunately do not have, and I expect to prove this herewith.

John Andrews and Patricia Phillips, candidates for the Republican nomination to challenge for Virginia's 33rd District Senate seat, met tonight at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, for the first of one debate. The fire house primary will take place on Saturday, May 19, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm, at Stone Bridge High School.

Both candidates had strong points and weak ones, but both did a very good job in a format that was somewhat stilted...or should I say "stultifying." (Hey, we writers of the first draft of history don't need no steenkin' dictionaries, ok?)

Overall, I'd say Andrews won on delivery and Phillips on content, although neither was a slouch in either department.

John is a very good public speaker, conscious of volume and cadence, and able to present his ideas under clear headings: "There are two points I need to make about that - one .... two ...." He was easy to follow along with - although not all the answers seemed to actually go anywhere.

Patricia has the more compelling thematic message: Government action and accountability should be as close to the citizens as possible - local control. Local governments should crack down on employers profiting off cheap, illegal laborers. I think this resonates broadly with conservatives, but it could have been more consistently and neatly emphasized from beginning to end.

Neither came off as overly partisan. This would serve either well in the general election.

John had a moment of great magnanimity on the question of "how pro-life are you?" He acknowledged Patricia's long career as a volunteer for pro-life causes and said he could never hope to match it, though he is 100% pro life.

Patricia had a similar conciliatory moment in praising Governor Kaine's executive order demanding people with severe psychological maladies be reported to the FBI database used to verify eligibility for gun purchases.

John was particularly strong on the questions of how schools are being made safer throughout Virginia (more cameras) and how to avoid future problems like the escalating cost of the Dulles Greenway (don't outsource roads).

Patricia nailed the local solution to illegal immigration (crack down on employers) and taxes (do not raise them because there's already being enough taken by Richmond).

John slightly flubbed the response to the Kaine transportation proposal (I don't necessarily agree with it but it's a great start); and Patricia did not provide a real answer on how to balance the need for new housing against the maladies brought on by development.

John showed better familiarity with the status of illegal immigration-related bills in the recent legislative session; Patricia likely won hearts and minds by detailing the negative impact on the American worker.

In sum, I think John talked great but could work on the policy and thematic specifics, and Patricia has the ideas but could work on making her delivery more staightforward and easier to follow.

More fully snarky comments, including a forbidden picture of the event, below the fold.

The event organizers from Patrick Henry College - which I also assume included the two campaigns - kept a pretty firm grip on the reins for this debate. This is always an amusing scenario.

Questions were all from the audience but were pre-screened before the index cards would be handed off to the debate moderator. I am guessing the pre-screening team included members of both campaigns, who would be in a position to disqualify questions much like trial lawyers disqualify jurors. This ensures the questions will be neither controversial nor interesting.

That's a bit harsh; there were interesting questions - or questions which evoked interesting answers, rather. But a modicum of spontanaeity, some interplay between the principals, would have been nice.

I was set up to video record the event so my wife could watch it later, but lo and behold no videotaping was permitted. Also no audiotaping, which pretty much screwed me because I lost the ability to read my own notes approximately halfway through college.

Finally, no "flash photography," which made me wonder if this was like Disney's Hall of Presidents where the actors might melt or go into epileptic fits if their photo-voltaic cells are over loaded; or like Cirque de Soleil where they could miss their blocking marks and fall helplessly onto the stage.

But following the old adage that we can always fix it in post, I managed to cheat by summoning up some old photos of the debaters and skillfully weave them into an artificial tableau which is frighteningly close to the original.

Hey, Joe fixes it in post

Anyway, here is the only extant, accurate photographic rendering of the Phillips-Andrews debate:


phil_andrews_debate_sm.jpg

Years of practice, folks, years of practice.

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4 Comments

Dean Settle said:

See, just when I start to think you are one of the old boring farts sitting around the Kool-aid pitcher, you go and show that you do indeed have a keen sense of humor.

TNM said:

Well, there was certainly a good deal of photography happening by the front-row journalism team...and on my cellphone (results to be posted at the next comical opportunity).

Loudoun Conservative said:

Didn't get to attend -- was there much of an audience?

TNMM, well darn: I was in the front row "team" and followed the rules (after I was told to put my video camera away I figured I should follow all of them).

I did not see any other flash go off.

But people were taking photos? Hmm, next time I shall be more bold.

LC, I should have reported on that! If you take away the campaign staffs, I'd say about 50 people.

From what I could tell, only a handful were there to "test" the candidates. It seemed like most were already supporters of either John or Patricia.

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