So… I just came from the MO Senate debate at Lindenwood College. I will preface this by saying that I have always been a fan of Todd Akin. I grew up going to church with his family, so I had the benefit of knowing him as a regular guy before I ever thought of him as a politician. I know that when he goes to Washington to speak his piece or cast his vote, there are three things on his mind: God, conscience, and Constitution. What makes me believe that he is the right man for the job is the fact that he keeps those three things in that order.
That being said, I also live outside the state of Missouri, and having no skin in the game, I attended the debate to watch with as much objectivity as possible. In the grand scheme of things, as long as one of the three people who stood on that debate stage tonight replace Claire McCaskill in November we win.
When the candidates stepped onto the stage, I noticed an immediate difference. Congressman Akin looked prepared and put together as he always does. John Brunner, despite hiring a professional to help with his look, managed to pull off the Ron Paul affectation of the suit coat that was just a little bit too big for him. Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman appeared somewhat less professional, opting for a dress that was cut above the knees and chunky, open-toed shoes.
Once they began to speak, the real differences came out.
Steelman opened with a comment about wealthy politicians and the fact that they take taxpayers’ money to cover private jets and the like, making it clear that she was willing to include a little implied class warfare in her platform. She then spent the rest of the evening dropping the phrase “old boys’ club” in reference to Congress as if to say, “Hey, everybody, you remember I’m a girl, right?” Her answers on the economy were strong, but she struggled a bit when either of the other candidates answered before her. It was as if she was scrambling to rearrange her words in order to sound like she was saying something that hadn’t already been said, and instead of sounding a little bit redundant she ended up sounding less prepared.
Brunner answered most questions fairly well, running into problems with a surprisingly simple question concerning the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices. The panelist asked what criteria would be used to determine whether or not he would vote to confirm a potential justice. Brunner said that he would want a justice with time and experience on the bench and a good record of doing what was right. That sounds pretty good until you realize that the entirety of his own campaign is predicated on the notion that he is not a “career politician” (a fact of which he took time during nearly every response to remind the audience) and thus has no record of his own by which we can judge his capabilities as a senator.
For Akin’s part, experience definitely proved useful tonight. His answers were refreshingly clear and concise. Of the three candidates, he was least likely to stray from his original point or struggle to find words. While both Steelman and Brunner occasionally had difficulty making their points in the allotted time, Akin repeatedly finished ahead of the buzzer. He simply said what he had to say and then stopped. And what he had to say definitely played well with the conservatives in the audience. He finished his final statement to a standing ovation (the only one of the evening), and several people in one corner began chanting “Brunner, Brunner, Brunner.” They were drowned out by the crowd in a matter of seconds.
As I said before, I was a fan of Congressman Akin long before tonight. I felt that he was the right man to replace current MO Senator Claire McCaskill long before tonight. This evening’s debate made him stand out all the more in my mind as the right man for the job, and had I come to the debate unconvinced there is no doubt in my mind that he would have won me over with that performance.