That explains why Hurt didn’t want to debate.

In tonight’s debate between Congressman Perriello and Robert Hurt, I’m surprised at how badly Hurt came off.

Although I don’t think I’ve ever met Hurt (I just can’t remember), we have a bunch of friends in common, and I know him to be a nice guy. He’s no dope. But with his performance this evening, one wouldn’t know that. Here I’d been giving him the benefit of the doubt that his refusal to debate was because of the involvement of a conservative third-party candidate and the usual sturm und drang that goes into arranging a candidate debate. Apparently, it’s because he’s totally unprepared.

Host Jay Warren asked no surprising questions. If Hurt’s staff was going to prep him for just a half dozen topics, those covered surely would have been among them. But Hurt could muster no meaningful responses, nearly all of which were somewhere between weak and just plain wrong. The fact that he couldn’t name a single federal program that he’d cut was pretty amazing. Hurt’s campaign, like those of many Republicans this year, has been based substantially on cutting spending. The man’s running for office on the promise to do that. But he can’t name anything that he’d actually cut? Nothing? That’s a shell of a candidate right there.

Maybe I gave Hurt too much credit. Or maybe, like post-2000 and pre-2008 John McCain, he’ll have to lose this election to regain the credibility that he’s losing now.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

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

8 replies on “That explains why Hurt didn’t want to debate.”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I wouldn’t have seen it without your links. Hurt certainly did not distinguish himself in this debate.

    If the 5th district still elects Hurt instead of Periello then they deserve the feel of the spinning fan blade as they hit it.

    If you elect crap you deserve crap. Hurt is crap.

  2. In this climate, I still think Hurt will win.

    And then I think Perriello takes the governorship in 2013.

  3. FYI – “wouldn’t” name a specific program does not mean the same thing as “couldn’t” name one. There is no justification (other than wishful thinking and post-debate spinning) to assume that he “couldn’t.”

  4. FYI – “wouldn’t” name a specific program does not mean the same thing as “couldn’t” name one. There is no justification (other than wishful thinking and post-debate spinning) to assume that he “couldn’t.”

    By that logic, there’s no justification to assume that he “wouldn’t.” Because that would require understanding what is going on in Sen. Hurt’s head, which none of us know. But my guess is that if there was ever a time in his life where, if he could have named a single program that he’d cut, this would have been it. Much like Christine O’Donnell and Sarah Palin would have named a single SCOTUS ruling, if they were able to do so, when they were likewise asked in a televised broadcast.

    Just for the record, here are the exchanges in question:

    Host: Are you amenable to any of those three things? Senator Hurt…?

    Hurt: [attacks Perreillo]

    Host: OK But of those three things, are you willing to do any of the three?

    Hurt: In order the balance the budget, we’re going to have to make tough decisions. I think that we have to look at absolutely getting into entitlement spending. When it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, I think that we have got to find ways to make healthcare cost less, not more.

    Host: Would you support a defense cut, a cut in defense spending?

    Hurt: I’m not in favor of cutting defense spending.

    Hurt: Are you in favor of raising taxes?

    Hurt: I’m not in favor of raising taxes.


    Host: I didn’t really get a clear answer on this question. […] If you could just give me a clear answer…one program—congressional pay really isn’t that much—one substantial program that you would be willing to cut on a federal level.

    Hurt: Well, I think that we have to look at all of bureaucracy. We have to look at…at…at…the federal regulatory agencies that I think are doing a great deal of harm to the free enterprise system, look at some of the things that the EPA is doin’…

    Host: Do you have one program you’d say—


    Hurt: …I don’t think that you can say “just one program.” I think you have to look at everything. And…and…and…I think you have to do it in a systematic way, but the bottom line is you have to be guided by the bottom line, and that is we need to achieve a balanced budget.

    Host: And Mr. Perriello, your answer to that question?

    Perriello: Corn ethanol subsidies.

  5. I. Publius,

    I think it’s a distinction without a difference here. He was unwilling to name a federal program to cut. He couldn’t come up with one whose name he felt politically able to name.

    Call it “couldn’t” or call it “wouldn’t,” the point’s the same: despite all the talk, Republicans (traditional or Tea Party) have no actual will to be fiscally responsible. The “starve the beast” fig leaf lets you spend without taxing anyway, so why would you bother?

  6. Ben, I think you’re wrong on one thing, Republican politicians have no will. I think many in the rank and file of the GOP/Tea Party concoction do have the actual desire to get the country’s finances in order, and the GOP politicians play into that to win votes.

    There are only a few GOP pols that actually back up their talk.

  7. Michael,

    I’ll believe it when I see polling that says as much. As it is, all the polling I see says quite the opposite.

    For more proof, just look at how many Republicans have lost their primaries in the last thirty years because they didn’t cut enough programs. Now compare this to how many have lost their party’s support due to being perceived to be too far to the left on social issues, or even better, raising taxes (one of the things we could do to cut deficits).

    Placing the blame only on the politicians and not on the people who elect them doesn’t cut it.

  8. Cut corn ethanol subsidies… wise move since they only breed more inefficiency in our vehicles; too bad that isn’t enough. I wonder when people will realize that our government has fiscal limits? Eventually, the rich will run out of money and who can we tax then? Sadly, nobody is willing to make bold statements about cuts, and corn subsidies cuts surely couldn’t be considered a bold stand.

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