I am biased. I want Tom Barrett to win next week's Wisconsin Governor race. I admit it. I may not be not the greatest judge, but Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee who is running against Scott Walker in next Tuesday's recall election, owned Walker in tonight's second and last debate. Barrett was widely seen by neutral observers as the winner of the first debate last Friday night, but he may have done even better tonight.
Responding to Walker's attempt to link Barrett to criticism of the way the Milwaukee police department classifies serious crimes, Barrett turned the tables when he said this in reference to Walker's role at the center of a current John Doe investigation:
I have a police department that arrests felons. He has a practice of hiring them.That line drew the only audible reaction tonight from the live audience, a combination of oohs and aaahs that I translated in my head as "Down goes Walker! Down Goes Walker!"
What made the line so effective is that Tom Barrrett delivered it in his calm, matter-of-fact style. That, and the line is true and every carefully screened audience member in the room knew it. No slick delivery or hyperbole needed. Walker spewed his usual memorized talking points over and over during the debate, but he had no reply to that line from Barrett, or to this one:
I've been in public service 28 years. None of my staff have ever been arrested and I don't have a criminal defense fund.After the debate the local news came on and their first story referenced Barrett's line about Walker's hiring practices and called it the "line of the debate." Trust me, that is not the type of report that the fraidy-cat corporate news outlets in Wisconsin often make.
Barrett supporters are fired up! I'm on "vacation" next week and I just signed up for canvassing on Monday and Tuesday. Let's bring it home!
Just before hitting publish, I checked the Wisconsin State Journal website. They have an AP recap of the debate that highlighted the same two lines that I did. So it's not just me. Another Barrett knockout!
UPDATE Video of the line of the campaign delivered by Barrett: