The first debate between Sen. Kay Hagan and state Speaker Thom Tillis taught us one thing, and the Raleigh News and Observer summed it up deftly in the first sentence of its story about the debate: the pair “stepped right out of the TV ads where they have slugged each other over the past three months and resumed swinging.”
That’s pretty much all there was to it. Nothing new, just the same old arguments.
Anyone who has watched a television program in North Carolina recently has heard the talking points both for and against both candidates. In a nutshell, liberals and Hagan say Tillis has single-handedly destroyed public education in North Carolina and has enacted tax breaks for the state’s wealthiest citizens at the expense of the poor, while conservatives and Tillis charge Hagan with continuously following the path of President Barack Obama, to the detriment of the nation as a whole.
Both sides of the argument, despite their fair share of hyperbole, have valid points.
And rather than share some insight into how they would lead should they be elected, both Hagan and Tillis did little more than pander to the fringe members of their bases with the same tired arguments that every television viewer in North Carolina has already heard.
That debate strategy, which is so often the pitfall of politicians, is as wrong as wrong can be in an election that Republicans so desperately want to win.
Tillis was stiff and bland. Hagan will eat his lunch with moderate voters unless he can loosen up and tell North Carolinians what his vision for the country is, rather than solely hammering Hagan for her past decisions.
Here’s hoping that some meaningful debate happens when the candidates next face off on Oct. 7. Both Hagan and Tillis can spare us the blame game — North Carolinians need to know what they’re voting for, not what they’re voting against.