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Posts Tagged ‘debate’



Calbuzz, Web Partners Ask Gov Rivals to Debate

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Three of California’s leading political websites have invited the two major-party candidates for governor to participate in the state’s first Blogosphere Debate.

Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, in partnership with the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley, today sent a letter outlining the debate to Mike Murphy and Steve Glazer of the campaigns of Republican nominee Meg Whitman and Democratic nominee Jerry Brown.

Here’s the letter that was emailed today:

Dear Mike and Steve,

On behalf of Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics, we are pleased to invite Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown to participate in a two-person, first-ever California Blogosphere Debate. The College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University and the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley will also serve as debate sponsors.

As you may know, the Washington Post has named Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics the three leading political web sites in California. Collectively we provide on a daily basis a full range of political perspectives and analysis, from conservative to moderate to progressive.

We have secured Morris Dailey auditorium at San Jose State University for the afternoon and evening of Monday September 13th (with back-up possibilities on the 14th and 15th). The specific time of the debate would be decided later in consultation with the campaigns, but we anticipate a 60-minute event, scheduled at a time between 4 pm and 7 pm. The format, with final details to be determined, would likely include the following:

– Moderator: John Myers of KQED (pending approval from KQED)
– One questioner each from Calbuzz, FlashReport and Calitics
– Two-minute opening and closing remarks from candidates
– One question for both candidates from each panelist with two-minute responses
– Two questions for each candidate from each panelist with two-minute responses
– One minute rebuttal from each candidate for each question
– Introduction, follow-ups as permitted by moderator and closing statements.

This means each candidate would field six questions: three common questions for both candidates and three questions specific to each candidate. Both candidates would have an opportunity for rebuttal on every question.

We envision candidates standing at podiums with television lighting. Neither candidate would use scripts, notes or props although they may take notes during the debate. A pre-arranged coin toss would determine the order, with the candidates given the option of opening first or closing last. We would offer a live feed to any television or radio station or online broadcaster interested in carrying the debate. We anticipate one pool camera crew to shoot the debate.

As you’re aware the news industry is in a state of radical transformation, with the internet steadily playing a larger and more significant role in setting the public agenda. We believe that our proposal offers a unique and historic opportunity for your campaigns to play an important role in shaping that agenda, and we hope you will give this invitation your most serious consideration. Please respond by 5 p.m., Friday, June 25.

Very truly yours,

Phil Trounstine, Jerry Roberts, Jon Fleischman, Brian Leubitz, Robert Cruickshank

How Brown and Whitman Will Frame the Gov Race

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Calbuzz Department of Prognostication and Power Tools has no formal opinion about the outcome of the fight between eMeg Whitman and Steve “The Commish” Poizner for the Republican nomination for governor.

But looking ahead, we just think it makes most sense to consider how Crusty the Attorney General Jerry Brown, a notorious skinflint, will try to frame the debate against eMeg’s unprecedented, $150 million Leviathan campaign.

You could say the fundamental question will be: Who do voters hate the most? A bloated-spending, jet-hopping, Goldman-Sachs-financed, tax-return-hiding, vote-averse corporate CEO? Or a lifelong, failed, dysfunctional, unreliable, flip-flopping, corrupt, know-it-all, career politician? Pick your poison.

Those surely will be elements of the messages Whitman and Brown will use to seek to destroy one another.

But our mission here is bigger than a mere string of invective characterizations. We are looking for what political scientists call a “frame” – a construction of ideas, metaphors, anecdotes, stereotypes, arguments and even (gasp) facts – for the campaign.megp

First, how will Whitman, with her untold millions, frame the debate? Most likely, as a contest between a successful and competent businesswoman against the aforementioned failed and dysfunctional politician. That’s what eMeg’s people believe – in their heart of hearts and their bulging pocketbooks, too – really defines the race.

Running against a Democrat like Jerry Brown is not rocket science. And rich candidates have failed in California in the past, not because they were rich but because they were stupid. Whitman has no idea what she’s doing but Mike Murphy & Co. are not stupid. They’ve made a couple of political errors (opposing AB 32 and calling for building more prisons) but in the primary, at least, they’ve gotten results from all that overspending.

It likely won’t be long before Poizner is dispatched and Whitman will be picking apart Brown’s record since, as a matter of fact, he’s been on most sides of most issues at one time or another over his long career. He has – his allies will have to admit — evolved, expanded and contracted, risen and fallen, twisted and turned and twisted back again.

So what can Brown do against $150 million? How can he frame the race successfully?

Can he, we wonder, turn Whitman’s greatest strength – her money – into a liability? Can he weaponize her money, turn it against her and drive it like a stake through her heart?

“She’s doing that herself,” said one Brown adviser. “She’s spending so much, Jerry doesn’t have to make the point.”

But he will. He’ll be the frugal pragmatist who sold the state plane, refused the governor’s mansion, slept on the floor in an apartment, drove in a blue Plymouth instead of a limousine and who’s doing the people’s business; while she’s flying in private jets, spending like Paris Hilton on steroids and refusing to disclose her taxes, perhaps because they’ll show she’s still hooked up with Goldman Sachs from whom she’s gotten special, secret deals.

He’ll be the cheapskate, curbside populist, casting her as the profligate, arrogant billionaire. He’s from the mean streets of Oakland by way of Calcutta (forget Cal and Yale); she’s from Atherton by way of Long Island, the horsey set and Princeton.

Most important, Brown will argue that while he’s authentic, she is artificial. He’s the real deal; she’s a brand name. He’s meat and potatoes; she’s Mrs. Potato Head.

He will try to frame the debate using free media as much as possible (as he did with the debate challenge to Whitman and Poizner). Whether it will work is totally unclear. Conventional wisdom suggests you cannot reach and move voters in California unless you are on paid TV. Constantly.

That’s not going to be an option for Brown. Instead, he’ll rely on Jerry Brown Kung Fu. Whether that’s enough, Grasshopper, we know not, yet.

Calbuzz Snubbed in GOP Debate; Payback Looms

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This just in: Calbuzz was not chosen to be on the panel of reporters in the Great Debate between Republican candidates for governor Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. We’re shocked – shocked! -  outraged and distraught. Cold revenge is on the menu.

For now, the debate is scheduled for 2 pm Sunday, May 2 at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, with KQED’s John Myers as moderator and panelists Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle, Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune, Jack Chang of the Sacramento Bee, Michael Blood of the Associated Press and Santiago Lucero of Univision. A solid enough lineup except for, well, you know . . .

Now Poizner is tweaking Whitman by arguing that she’s trying to limit exposure, and the California Accountability Project, sourcing a KTVU-TV report, is suggesting eMeg is lying about who picked the time. According to Sam Rodriguez at Comcast, the actual start time is still being discussed – by the campaigns.

Not that it’ll make much difference. Comcast is going to make the coordinates available to any TV station that wants them and they can broadcast it whenever they want to; Comcast will air it live on its Hometown Network, where it will be replayed many times; the California Channel is scheduled to air it live, as will others. Whether it’s at 2 pm or 5 pm on a Sunday makes little difference. More people will see it in the clips and the re-broadcast than will see it live no matter when it airs.

Why? Because it’s a “debate” between Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman ferheavensakes!

Which is why, for the entertainment value alone, Calbuzz is rooting for Jerry Brown’s drive – with a petition campaign started about 5 pm Sunday – to get eMeg to agree to join him and Steve in a series of three-way debates. Now that could be fun to watch.

So far, Meg’s not budging. (And why should she, really?) Even though Brown had racked up 4,500 signatures in the first 24 hours. “We’re hoping eventually to get 100 signatures for every million Meg Whitman has spent on her campaign,” said Brown flack Sterling Clifford. “We have 1,400 to go.”

Press clips – rant of the week: When we launched Calbuzz a little over a year ago, our Department of Churning It Out and Doing It Daily wrote that our role models were “Boys on the Bus” Hall of Fame partners Jules Witcover and Jack Germond (as noted at the time, we had little choice but to view ourselves as “the fat man in the middle seat,” the title of one of Germond’s campaign memoirs).

So we were delighted to find an online version of a dead-trees-and-ink column by Witcover, bringing his famed analytic powers  to the task of dissecting, um, online journalism.

Taking as his point of departure the recent announcement that the Library of Congress intends to start archiving hundreds of million of Twitter tweets, Witcover thundered against the evils of modernity, weaving into his screed the disgraceful case of CBSNews.com fronting a blog post that contained a quickly discredited assertion that Solicitor General and possible Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is a lesbian:

The tweet, which seems too often to be an unedited burp from the mouth of a diner overfed with trivia, strikes me as a poor cousin of the blog, that unlimited and too often also unedited vomiting of opinion, diatribe, rumor or just plain bigotry and hate.

The magazine Wired quoted one Matt Raymond, identified as the Library of Congress’ blogger, saying: “I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data.” One also can only wonder, however, what we might be able to learn from more fully expressed ideas, particularly when submitted to responsible, professional editing…

When rumor, prospective slander, libel or just plain inaccuracy gets through, the credibility of all journalism suffers.

We have no argument with our hero on that point. Despite Witcover’s lament that it was otherwise, however, the plain fact is that in the Wild West world of new media, it’s the content consumer who’s running the show, not the content provider. So the bottom line is: let the buyer beware, while the market sorts it all out.

Three reasons we love newspapers: Margot Roosevelt’s report detailing the big bucks efforts of oil giants Valero, Tesoro and Occidental Petroleum to qualify an initiative rolling back AB 32;  fellow LATimeser George Skelton’s takedown of PG&E over Proposition 16, its outrageously phony rip-off measure that would enshrine a monopoly for the utility under the guise of the “taxpayer’s right to vote act”;  the SacBee’s Kevin Yamamura’s smart takeout on eMeg Whitman’s proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax, likely to become a campaign issue.

Three reasons we love the Internets: The Oracle of Cruickshank’s trenchant, from-the-left post-game analysis of the Democratic convention over at Calitics;  Steve Malanga’s from-the-right indictment of the role of public employee unions in California’s budget mess, at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal;  Danielle Crittendon’s ordinary folks look at what a shameful dog-and-pony wheeze Sarah Palin performs for big bucks in the hinterlands

We wish we’d said that: Better late than never kudos to Chronicler Debra Saunders for a clear-eyed look at the dust-up at San Jose’s Mt. Pleasant High School over Steve Poizner’s memoir of the year he spent teaching there.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Jamie Jungers and Bombshell McGree, together again.

Jerry, eMeg and the Goldman Sachs Connection

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Moments after Jerry Brown finished a press conference at the California Democratic Convention, where he had just challenged his Republican rivals to join him in a set of pre-primary debates, Calbuzz accosted him as he strode down the hall to his next event, trying to squeeze in one extra question.

“How about Goldman Sachs?” we asked him. “How important to the campaign is Meg Whitman’s connection?”

Brown’s eyes flashed red, smoke blew from his nostrils and fire flew off his tongue, but before he could answer, campaign manager Steve Glazer rushed up to protest: “We’re not giving not any walking interviews!”

And just like that, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor thought better of his impulse, smiled slightly and said, “If I answer that, you won’t write about the debates.”

Brown, with Glazer keeping tabs

The hallway scene at the J.W. Marriott Hotel on Saturday morning spoke volumes about two important elements of Brown’s campaign for governor:

On one level it was a tribute to the indefatigable efforts of Glazer to work the impossible: keeping the famously undisciplined Brown from flapping his gums and straying from his appointed message.

It was also testament to Brown’s obvious desire to open a line of full-throated populist attack on GOP front-runner Whitman — portraying her as a tribune of corporate excess and Wall Street greed and using her multiple links to Goldman Sachs as Exhibit A in making the case.

With the Securities and Exchange Commission formally charging the huge investment bank with fraud last Friday, Brown’s campaign has been handed a fresh opportunity, not only to disrupt the Whitman campaign narrative that her executive business experience splendidly qualifies her for governor, but also to perform political jujitsu on the exorbitant campaign spending eMeg is fronting with her personal fortune.

At a time when public resentment runs high against Wall Street banks, and the obscene taxpayer bailouts they’ve received, the SEC’s fraud case against Goldman Sachs is a clear and high-visibility symbol of the avarice and recklessness that fed the recession-triggering sub-prime mortgage/credit default swap/collateralized debt obligation scandal (for those still trying to cut through the complexities of this, Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short” is a must-read).

No less a source than the Wall Street Journal, which included a sidebar on the governor’s race (subscription required) in its page one, double-truck Monday coverage of the SEC-Goldman case, forecast “the furor…could become a sticky issue” in the California campaign.

“Over the course of this campaign, I think the voters are going to be fully aware of Meg Whitman’s financial dealings at Goldman Sachs and they’ll hold her accountable for them,” Brown spokseman Sterling Clifford, told the Journal.

The esteemed Christian Science Monitor also weighed in with a piece on how the Goldman Sachs case could “roil” the governor’s race.

“Whitman has to demonstrate how she was not one of the black hats at Goldman Sachs. In other words, she’ll have to explain herself – not an enviable position for a candidate,”  Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., told the Monitor.

Calbuzz has previously published a leading expert’s analysis of eMeg’s involvement in the stock “spinning” scandal, perhaps the most problematic aspect of her Goldman Sachs connection, while Lance Williams and Carla Marinucci have reported on others, in a fully detailed primer on the issue  published jointly by California Watch and the Chronicle.

Candidate Meg Whitman touts her experience at eBay, the online auction hous

e that made her rich, but her career and personal fortune are entwined with another company: the Goldman Sachs investment bank, a major player in public finance in the state she wants to lead.

Whitman’s relationship with the giant Wall Street firm — as investor, corporate director and recipient of both insider stock deals and campaign donations — could pose conflicts of interest if the Republican front-runner is elected governor of California, critics say.

Some Whitman boosters, led by Republican blogger Bill Whalen, have been whistling past the graveyard, arguing that because Brown’s sister, former state Treasurer Kathleen Brown, is a former Goldman Sachs executive, Jerry Brown will be loathe to gamble on going after Her Megness on the issue.

Putting aside the total false equivalency of the comparison, Calbuzz will be more than happy to take that bet.

Meanwhile, Over in Clovis: KTVU-TV got  eMeg to respond to Brown’s call for three-way debates:  “I think it’s a political stunt to avoid giving specifics. You know,  I have a very specific policy agenda that has been outlined and Jerry has not given a single specific plan on virtually any of the crises that face California.”

Whitman, of course, is right that the debate gambit was a political stunt. But a clever one that gave  the aforementioned Glazer license to reply:

“Perhaps because she has failed to vote for most of her adult life, Ms. Whitman doesn’t understand the voters need for straight talk and honest discussion in an election. Calling an unscripted debate about the serious challenges facing California a ‘political stunt’ shows total disregard for the voters.”

Furthermore, Glazer said,  “From the fake town hall she filmed for her infomercial (coming soon to a station near you) to the 48-page photo album she calls a ‘plan’ and using a business group as a front for attack ads, Meg Whitman has run a campaign wholly based on stunts.”

Shocker: Jerry Wants 3-Way With Meg and Steve

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

In challenging Republicans Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner to an unprecedented series of pre-primary, three-way debates Brown signaled a willingness to plunge into the general election for governor even before the candidates have been chosen – as long as it’s on somebody else’s dime.

“Come out from behind those glittering poppy fields, those beautiful car crashes on top of the mountain,” he told the delegates at the California Democratic Party state convention, referring to TV ads from Republican wannabes Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. “This is going to be mano a mano, one candidate against the other. Let’s hear the different ideas.”

The partisan crowd at the Democratic state convention, many of whom have waited for months for Brown to aggressively engage in the campaign, reacted with enthusiasm. Which was job No. 1 for the weekend for the 72-year-old attorney general and presumptive party nominee.

The unexpected debate gambit – coming after advisers suggested for days that Brown would refrain from aiming fire at Whitman and Poizner – was a shrewd tactical win-win for crafty Crusty the General, for at least three reasons:

1- The debate challenge, which fired up delegates, showed nervous Democrats that Brown is no drooling Jerryiatric and will stop turning the other cheek as Republicans bash him with abandon.

Click to Gluck

2- It is an attempt to help Poizner, who’s been attacking eMeg on the airwaves for several weeks, by making her look like a chicken and fueling the narrative that she’s hiding and trying to buy the election.

3- With no heavy lifting, Brown won the news cycle and scored an ongoing talking point – What do you mean I’m not campaigning? She’s the one who’s ducking me.

“We cannot delay debating solutions. The need is immediate and millions and millions of dollars in an orgy of spending for TV commercials is not a substitute for an honest and open discussion,” Brown said.

Brown’s change of heart apparently came after he saw new private polling that reportedly shows Poizner closing the gaping margin Whitman has enjoyed in the GOP primary. He also apparently was swayed to go on the offense after seeing a Republican Governor’s Association ad – very similar to the California Chamber of Commerce “issues” ad that was pulled because it was so purely anti-Brown.

Asked at press conference after his speech what he would do if only one of the Republicans accepted the challenge, Brown said that would not do. Calbuzz asked if he really thinks they both will accept.

“I wouldn’t have made the challenge if I didn’t take into account the possibility they might accept it,” he said, drawing a laugh from reporters.

On cue, Poizner’s camp immediately accepted the invitation. Communications director Jarrod Agen:

“Steve Poizner is happy to debate his plan for California against lying corporate CEO Meg Whitman and special interest career politician Jerry Brown. We match up nicely against those two and are willing to debate anywhere, anytime. The voters of California deserve to see these candidates discuss solutions for California and answer difficult questions in an unscripted, unedited setting.”

And not surprisingly, for a campaign that is in the lead, Whitman’s chief consultant Mike Murphy, was considerably less interested:

“It a cynical ploy to elevate Poizner. Jacques must have thought up that one,” he said, referring to Jacques Barzaghi, Brown’s former inscrutable aide de camp.”Jerry should debate this own primary opponents and his own record since he’s been on every side of every issue.

Hearing that Whitman demurred, Poizner’s Agen said, “The Republican nominee will have to debate Jerry Brown. If Meg Whitman is afraid to debate him, then she should not be the Republican nominee.”

Brown, too, responded to the Whitman campaign’s rejection of the call for three-way debates:

Private corporations sometimes hide behind slick advertising campaigns, but it’s wrong for a serious political candidate to do the same.  I urge Meg Whitman to reconsider.  Surely, if she believes she is good enough to be governor of California she must also consider herself competent enough to appear with her opponents.  A candidate for public office should not act like a used car salesperson who relies on misleading TV ads.  Public service is a higher calling, one that demands integrity, openness and honesty.  I encourage Meg Whitman to join with Steve Poizner and me in three joint appearances.