Kilgore: He’s really trying.

Some years ago, I had an opponent in a primary who was a terrible speaker. Nice guy, capable, interesting, fine one-on-one, but put him in a debate in front of an audience and the guy just turned to Jello. Every question — it didn’t matter what you asked him — was met with the same response: “I’d get the community together and, together, we’d come up with a solution. That’s what I do. I bring people together.” By the second debate, it had become really awkward. The audience, which was mostly made up of people who’d been to the previous forum, stopped making eye contact with him, and he began shrugging and shaking his head a little before giving that stock answer. We treated him with kid gloves, because he was so clearly in over his head. On at least a few occasions, he busted out of his shell and managed to give really great answers. When he did so, I made sure to note it in conversation with him afterwards. I was genuinely happy for him, and it was all I could do to stop myself from calling attention to his great answers at the time.

That’s where Jerry Kilgore is at. In yesterday’s debate, Tim Kaine beat him like a rented mule. During the post-game, Larry Sabato said:

Kilgore was nervous and tense. He sounded bad. He argued badly. This was Kaine’s best performance ever.”

In an interview with the AP, Sabato called it “a devastating day for Kilgore.” And in the Charlottesville Daily Progress, Bob Gibson wrote:

“[This] was one of the most one-sided debates I’ve ever seen. This audience turned on Kilgore” after Russert questioned him on abortion, Sabato said. “Jerry has a tendency to repeat the same lines over and over again and it doesn’t work with a live audience.”

Then, yesterday evening, I received this e-mail, quoted in part:

From: Ken Hutcheson, Kilgore for Governor
Date: September 13 2005, 6:44pm
Subject: Kilgore Wins Debate!

Dear Kilgore Supporter,

Today, Jerry debated Tim Kaine in front of the Fairfax Chamber. The debate was moderated by Tim Russert, who at every turn, disregarded the agreed upon rules and time limits. Despite Russert’s obvious favoritism of Tim Kaine (even noted by leading political scientist, Larry Sabato), Jerry went on the offensive immediately and portrayed Kaine as a classic tax and spend liberal….


Ken Hutcheson
Campaign Manager

P.S. Please look for news accounts tomorrow on the “Liberal Primary” that took place today between Russ Potts, the “Honest Liberal” and Tim Kaine, the “Dishonest Liberal.”

I find it hard to be angry at Kilgore for attacking Tim Russert. I find it hard to be angry at Kilgore for not just saying “hey, I fucked up — I got caught.” I find it hard to be angry at Kilgore for his refusal to debate the third candidate, Republican Russ Potts, for refusing to debate just three times (once in West Virginia), and only allowing this debate to be broadcast on some Northern Virginia cable station. He’s just so bad at this, he’s been so horrendously over-trained, he’s so totally out of his league that I get that little lift in my heart when he manages a good answer. Good for you, Jerry! Keep it up!

Yes, he is the political opponent of the my man in this race, Tim Kaine. But we’re both human, and I know a guy who’s down when I see it. I’m a Democrat — my sympathies naturally lie with the underdog. So better luck next time, Jerry. Ridiculously, I really mean that.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

14 replies on “Kilgore: He’s really trying.”

  1. Sorry Waldo, I hope Tim knocks Kilgore off of the stage and out of the room. Never feel sorry for a Republican-they have really good track records of coming back in a follow up debate. (remember Gore v. Bush in debates 2 and 3?)

  2. I think this is a pretty good analysis – I was able to watch the whole thing. The debate was a good old-fashioned butt-kicking, with Jerry Kilgore providing the butt. I loved Russert hating on him, but he did seem to overstep his bounds as moderator, and the Republican campaign will obviously seize on that. They lost, but they’ll call unfair and make it look like Kilgore was picked on, which he kinda was. This, combined with the facts that a) no one watched, b) no one watched, and c) the media coverage that people WILL see/read will fall short of calling this what it was (a resounding victory for Kaine), will dilute the effect that the Democrat should see out of this kind of victory.

    I’d like to ask bloggers to seriously get the word out before this weekend to encourage people to check the Sunday replay of this debate, and to try to take Russert out of it. Listen to the answers the candidates give. Even without Russert occasionally blatantly attacking Kilgore (he got Kaine once too with the Hillary thing), Kaine crushed Kilgore in this debate.

    We’ve gotta get people’s eyes on this.

  3. Jerry is a very special boy and we are all very proud of him for trying his very hardest. When you have a boy as *special* as Jerry is, it’s just so wonderful to see him out there trying his best and playing with the ‘regular’ kids.

    The important thing isn’t winning or losing, right? It’s about *team work* and being a good sport. Learning to get along with the other kids and whatnot. It isn’t all about trophies and ribbons or winning elections. So long as you get out there and do your gosh-darndest.

    Your mother would be so proud of you! That is, if she wasn’t staring at an indictment for election fraud.

    So go shake hands with the nice man who kicked your butt, little Jerry. Then we can all go out for ice cream.

  4. Waldo: IMO, feeling sorry for a charlatan, snake-oil salesman gives new meaning to “bleeding heart.” “Bleeding heart” can be a good thing (Repug spin notwithstanding). But because the Bush-like emptiness, wanton destructiveness, and downright incompetence can really hurt Virginians, I hope you’ll reconsider and not squander your bleeding heart here. I really love your blog. It’s one of the very best in Virginia. But I think any sympathy here is really misguided. Maybe you have still got wedding bells in your heart. So, all things considered, I guess it’s understandable. :-) The fact that you are still blogging (so soon and on your honeymoon) means you’ve got a very supportive bride! In the meantime, maybe some of the rest of us will have to ramp up the criticism Kilgore so richly deserves.

    All the best.

  5. One more thing, the Roanoke Times front page story today gives new meaning to unfair coverage. Sample the rest of the press–and then take a look at the RT. What a joke. The editorial page does print progressive letters and op-eds. Though conservative, neocon, and uber-hawk columns outnumber others, the letters are a bit more balanced. But the news and headline writers are another matter. Listen to the tape and check out the RT version. Really disgusting. And the paper chose as unflattering a photo of Tim as you could find. Liberal paper. Not!

  6. The fact that you are still blogging (so soon and on your honeymoon) means you’ve got a very supportive bride!

    Oh, heck no. Those wedding pictures are a week and a half old. :) I should have labeled them accordingly — that does create a little confusion.

  7. Don’t feel bad for Kilgore. Did you hear the laughs he’s been getting in NoVa? Come November 9th, I have a feeling he’ll have a very good career on the Alexandria to Fairfax stand-up circuit.

  8. Kathy: I read the Roanoke piece, you linked to and it was fair. I think that anyone from the outside looking in and reading that article couldn’t help but see that Kaine’s position is much stronger.

    Waldo: Dude! you’re my guy, but this is just silly. Sympathy for this particular devil is misplaced. We’re talking about the future of the Commonwealth here. It’s an issue of Leadership vs dogma. It’s an issue of responsible vs. irresponsible government. As Kaine said “When the role was called, Kilgore stood up for the wrong side.” Defending Kilgore for incompetence doesn’t wash.

    This is too important for niceties, especially when Kilgore’s campaign has never pulled a punch and will never pull a punch. There’s so much sleeze coming out of that camp that you need to wash your hands with oven cleaner whenever you pick up a Kilgore leaflet.

    I have to shake my head on your position here, my brother. Straight up sympathy for the devil, without the cool Mic Jagger lyrics.

  9. OK, Waldo. You’ve had your fun. Now, honestly, do you want your pity for Jerry to result in even one single sympathy vote for that empty suit? No, of course you don’t. BTW, my favorite line from the post-debate interviews (WDBJ7 News) was Jerry’s justification for not participating in the second debate: “I’m busy.” Now, that’s a little sound byte should be recorded and repeated as necessary! And you can’t blame his poor forensic skills for that comment! Clearly, if Jerry is too busy to participate in an open and fair airing of the issues among ALL the candidates, he would be too busy to have an open and fair airing of the concerns of the people he wants to govern…I have NO sympathy for THAT!

  10. Yeh, my husband and I had a good laugh over the WDBJ7 report on Jerry’s “excuse.” And then I just felt darn scared for our state. This guy is just so arrogant, unprepared, incapable of rational discourse, and devoid of honest communication. It’s good for us on the one hand. On the other hand, should he con the voters, we could experience the utter chaos of BUSHWORLD at the state level. For the good of the Commonwealth, I hope voters get engaged in this race.

  11. Folks, please bear in mind that there was never such a thing as a pity vote. Vocal expressions of sympathy for Jerry Kilgore – even when portrayed as being at the mercy of big, mean Tim Kaine who pushes him around – only lead to more votes for Tim Kaine.

    People don’t generally respect the people who they pity. Weak pushovers get tea and sympathy but not votes. The more you complain about getting your ass kicked, the worse it gets. Kilgore can go ahead and say that Russert, Kaine, the audience and the Lord Almighty all had it in for him. Maybe he can claim homophobia? The more he paints himself as a victim, the more pathetic he looks and the fewer votes he gets.

    Witness Denis Kuchinich (or however the hell you spell it). Former mayor of a major America city, an experienced sitting Congressman, the only major candidate to openly call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq that a majority of Americans seem to want (for better or worse). It all looks good on paper, right? Except that he looks and sounds weak and pitiful. Hence he got his ass handed to him. Put Jerry Kilgore on TV for long enough and the same thing will happen.

    People just don’t like weak little cowards even when they feel sorry for them.

  12. I agree with Jack. I hope some media outlets with a conscience and a real concern about our state bring voters plenty of Jerry all over TV: Ad clips showing his incompetence. Jerry in His Own Words, Up Close and Personal. Cut DVDs. Put clips on websites. Send ’em out. Issue DVD-based press releases. Distribute audio of the West Virginia pseudo debate. It should be a cake-walk. Even Larry Sabbato said it wasn’t even close. The rest of the race shouldn’t be either.

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