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Last night's Senate debate had only one memorable moment
Budd wins forgettable debate on points, hammering home Beasley as "rubber stamp" for Biden administration
Debates are about moments, as Democratic strategist Morgan Jackson pointed out when he made the rounds on the state’s political podcasts this week.
Last night’s U.S. Senate debate between Ted Budd and Cheri Beasley really had just one.
Moderator Tim Boyum asked both candidates about their relationship with the leaders of their parties — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Budd handled it decently well, pointing out economic growth under the previous administration, and saying Trump endorsed him because he’s “America First.”
Beasley … well, she didn’t handle it well at all.
When asked whether she’d stand on stage next to President Biden were he to come campaign in North Carolina, Beasley awkwardly danced around the question. After stumbling, she said she’d have to see if she was available. Watch:
On points, Budd won the debate.
He succeeded in hammering home the line that Beasley would be a rubber stamp for Biden’s policies. He highlighted historic levels of inflation and the crisis at the southern border.
Beasley didn’t hammer home much of anything at all. She was at her best in one brief moment when she talked about Budd’s vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election, and said that Budd described the January 6th rioters were “patriots standing up.” But she lacked the rhetorical skills to make the point stick, and it never came up again.
So, what’s the main takeaway?
The one and only debate of this U.S. Senate race will not go down in history. It was largely forgettable. Neither Budd nor Beasley are skilled debaters, and neither particularly distinguished themselves nor gave voters any reason to believe they’re different from a generic Republican or Democrat.
But in a midterm election with an unpopular president, that’s probably all Budd needs to do.
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Other debate observations:
The abortion issue played a surprisingly minor role. It was the second question asked, but neither candidate had anything memorable to say. They just called the other extremist, muddied the waters, and then everybody moved on.
At the very end, Beasley said directly that she would vote to kill the filibuster. That’s not a popular position.
Beasley also said she supports making recreational marijuana legal, presumably nationwide. That’s also not likely a super popular position in North Carolina.