Under the Dome

Dome's Take: Perdue's missed opportunity

Is Beverly Perdue a bad debater?

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce said allowing her to debate five times was "political malfeasance." Charlotte Observer columnist Jack Betts said Republican Pat McCrory is "more polished." WUNC reporter Laura Leslie said debates "aren't Perdue's strongest suit."

Dome's take: The format makes the difference.

McCrory has clearly outshined Perdue in sit-down debates that allowed more back-and-forth between the candidates, such as the recent debates on WRAL and WTVD.

But the two are more evenly matched in formal settings with podiums and timers, such as the recent debate at the SAS Institute. Perdue excelled in that type of setting during her primary debates against Richard Moore.

Their backgrounds may help explain that. As Betts noted, Perdue has presided over the Senate for eight years. It's a place where formality reigns. Parliamentary rules determine the course of the debate and legislators take turns giving short speeches.

City council meetings are much more informal. Mayors and council members typically sit, discussion is more freewheeling and thinking on your feet is a virtue. Typically, only the city attorney keeps careful track of Robert's Rules of Orders.

In addition, state legislators rarely debate during their campaigns, while McCrory has faced a number of televised debates in his biennial campaigns for mayor.

In short, the more the debate is like the Senate, the better Perdue does. But when it's more like a City Council meeting, McCrory tends to win the day.

If we're right, then Perdue's decision to skip the UNC-TV debate tonight — a formal debate that will be aired statewide — was a strategic mistake.


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Re: A place where formality reigns?

just remember...she's a sugah coated dumplin...corrupt from the inside out.

Re: Dome's Take: Perdue's missed opportunity

Again I'm somewhat biased in my opinion but looking at this objectively I think it was a lose-lose decision for her.

She appears weak and defensive for not participating in the only statewide debate but at least that damage is somewhat limited. She has the upper hand on the media buy so she doesn't really need the exposure. As the "quasi-incumbent" she has little to gain from engaging McCrory.

On the other hand if she "debates" she runs the risk of making a costly mistake and/or opens a door for McCrory to draw more distinctions between them which is ultimately what he must do to win.

Place Empty seat @ debate for Perdue

Let's make sure that there is either an empty seat or podium at tonight's debate to emphasize Beverly's cowardice for choosing not to participate. North Carolina's voters need to know that she is ducking an important duty of a candidate. Beverly, what would be the democrats comment if John McCain chose not to debate Obama? There would be outrage as there should be here as well!

If she becomes Governor, is she also going to shy away from other duties that she doesn't feel will position her in the best light. Expect Beverly to be the real "Ms NoWhere" in NC even though she could reside full time in the Governor's mansion in Raleigh.

One reason she is a poor debater is because she can't think on her feet. Instead she depends on sound bites that she has used until she can't forget them, including:

- When asked by Jim Morrill if she would be going to the fundraiser that Sewell was hosting for her this week: "I need to think about that"

- During an interview regarding Ike on WBT Radio in Charlotte, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue advised motorists to get out and “get our gas tanks as full as they’ll let us do it during in the next 24 or 48 hours” due to Hurricane Ike. When questioned by host Al Gardner if this would create a panic, Perdue flip-flopped and said people should not overact and “there is no need for anybody to rush right out.”

- When asked by the WRAL debate moderator about what she would do differently than Easley all she could come up with after repeated follow-ups was, "I would be more hands on."

- During the same WRAL debate, she emphatically states that physical health is obviously separate from mental health. She has to back track the next week when she says that "my background in health care tells me that it makes no sense to separate mental from physical health care."

Re: Why Not Reconsider?

Can you imagine being a major party nominee for Governor of North Carolina and declining an opportunity to appear on UNC-TV before the best statewide public affairs audience in the entire Old North State?

Surely, Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue will reconsider.

It does not matter how many other debates have been held, this is now the time of year when voters are really focusing in on the major statewide political races--governor, U.S. Senate, lieutenant governor and the Council of State.

After all, they have had a pretty full plate trying to gauge the dimensions of the interesting and historic presidential campaign of 2008, right?

No matter what the pundits and the advisers may contend, the lieutenant governor comes across just great on television forums with her distinguished Republican opponent Pat McCrory, the mayor of Charlotte. Bev Perdue should not miss this opportunity to appear on the one program sure to be seen by interested voters from Murphy to Mocksville to Manteo.

And this time the dashing Libertarian gubernatorial hopeful Michael Munger will be on hand to offer his interesting and insightful perspectives on the priorities for North Carolina state government.

Missing this forum on UNC-TV would be like winning the league playoffs in Major League Baseball, then declining a trip to the World Series. It would be like attending an entire ACC basketball season and then turning down tickets to the ACC Tournament.

Yes, folks, not going on UNC-TV in a meeting of candidates for the Office of Governor would be like choosing to run for Congress and turning down free political advice from Gary Pearce and Carter Wrenn.

Why, it would be like WRAL-TV Sports without the "Plays of the Day" or an end-of-the-year News & Observer with no political prognostications for the coming year by political columnist Rob Christensen.

As a fan of all these great gubernatorial candidates, including Libertarian Michael Munger, who will get a good seat at the table at the UNC-TV forum, I would suggest that Bev Perdue is still not as well-known to the voters in terms of her major platform issues as her campaign's staff may think she is, and furthermore that the UNC-TV forum is the one event which allows a candidate for governor to reach all the folks from the coast, Plains and Sandhills, through the Piedmont to the mountains out west.

If the lion from "The Wizard of Oz" were to hear about this absence of Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue from the UNC-TV event, he no doubt would roar:


Surely the lawyers and political operatives who people the campaign staffs of gubernatorial candidates such as Bev Perdue can figure out a way to get her back into the ballgame before the managers hand over the starting lineups to the umpires. Or as an exasperated Casey Stengel once lamented to the New York Mets in their early days: "Can't anybody around here play this game?"

You don't have to be as smart as "The Old Perfesser" to realize that participating in a candidate forum on UNC-TV is just about the next best thing to holding a press conference in the Rose Garden on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Here's hoping that the Perdue campaign will find a way to make up for this glaring error as the candidate seeks to solidify her political standing among the voters of North Carolina in the last weeks of this campaign.

She has a lot to offer the people of North Carolina, and appearing on UNC-TV would have been the best single avenue of expression of her views on the issues.

After all, even folks in New Bern will be watching the gubenratorial forum on the excellent UNC Television Network.

David Proctor McKnight

Re: A place where formality reigns?

Legislative fights in the Senate are frequently won or lost on parliamentary rules. That's what I meant by "formal."

— RTB 

A place where formality reigns?

A quote from the above Dome report:

"As Betts noted, Perdue has presided over the Senate for eight years. It's a place where formality reigns."

I question the "formality" of it all. I recall the Dome reporting that the legislative leadership refer to the Lieutenant Governor of the State of North Carolina as "dumpling." That seems a bit "informal" to me. In some ways it might be considered "condescending."

There is a need for "formality" and some sense of decorum in our state government. I hope that our next governor will not be called "dumpling" by the legislative leadership. Being too "informal" tends to make me think things are not quite proper. And it will be especially embarrassing if we elect a male governor............"dumpling" wouldn't sound all that good.

"And now for a message from Governor Dumpling....."

Re: Dome's Take: Perdue's missed opportunity

With mistakes like these we can all look forward to celebrating the first Republican in the Governor's Mansion since January 1993 and laud an end to the Democratic culture of corruption that has lagged in putting our state in the fast lane for the 21st Century.

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