We hit our first two debates in the Birmingham race I am managing last night. Bodenhausen did fairly well in the first one, and significantly better in the second one. It was mostly an issue of the candidate getting over the jitters and regaining that competitive campaign composure in the first debate. In the second debate, he did well except for one blown answer opportunity — but we have that problem fixed now.
There are six candidates in the race. The incumbent has used eminent domain to bring a new Wal-Mart to town in the very same district in which we are campaigning. We managed to turn a general debate into one primarily about eminent domain.
In debate one, Bodenhausen spoke first, and in his first three minute block he hammered away on eminent domain. Following Bodenhausen was the most conservative of the remaining candidates. Although we have inside information to the contrary, this forced that candidate to join the “Yea, Me Too!” club. The conservative-leaning candidate stated, “I absolutely agree with Bodenhausen on using eminent domain to the benefit of private developement.”
The topic came up a few more times in the first debate. During the second debate, it came up more often, and was used to some degree by all the candidates there to challenge the incumbent’s record. Responding to the applause we drew, even the most liberal of our opposition saw and seized upon the opportunity to torment the incumbent on this issue.
The problem is that the incumbent drew applause, too. She has a great, snappy response to the issue — which we need to overcome. She used it both times to great effect, improving upon it the second time. It goes something like this: “… [same old blah, blah, blah lines about economic development and job creation you've certainly heard countless times]. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and stand on my record. Anyway, we only used eminent domain one time, against a bookstore selling pornography.”
Both times she used this line, she drew a lot of applause. She doesn’t have to use her remaining time after that line, and promptly sits down.
To the best of my knowledge, she is technically correct. Most of the businesses that were relocated did so “voluntarily” because they were forced to do so. An article pertaining to this same case provides:
“Chris Curran, owner of Spuds Pub, told the newspaper that the city has put a gun to owners’ heads. “Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart is signing under duress,” Curran said. “That means: Here’s our contract, sign it and if you don’t sign it, we’ll take it. … They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don’t mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy.”
I don’t normally cross-post blog entries on the various sites where I write, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception. We have another debate in just a few hours, and I’d like to get as many ideas as possible on how to defeat the incumbent’s most effective line. Especially a sound-byte which combines brevity and impact. Ideas?