Massachusetts Senate debate: Both sides score points, but no knockout (+video)
In the Massachusetts Senate debate Wednesday, Republican Gabriel Gomez showed command, but Democratic Rep. Edward Markey stayed firm and revealed few cracks.
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Representative Markey was polite but firm in his rebuttals. “Look, we’ve been waiting on Republicans to come over on immigration reform for a generation,” he told his opponent. “I’ve been working on this issue … for years, and finally you have a small number of Republicans coming over to help us. But this has been a Democratic issue over the years.”Skip to next paragraph
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Gomez’s political inexperience came into play in the debate as well, particularly during a terse confrontation over the issue of abortion.
Asked whether he supported a 24-hour wait period for women who chose to have an abortion before the procedure could be performed, Gomez at first faltered.
After a long pause he said, “Abortion is an issue that reasonable people can disagree [about], we just shouldn’t disagree about it.” He went on to say that he was “personally pro-life” and that “asking somebody to wait 24 hours before they can go have an abortion is not asking a lot.”
Markey, on the other hand, did not mince his words.
‘‘I think the decision should be between the woman and her physician. That’s it,” he said. “The woman makes the decision, not some law that’s imposed by politicians.”
Markey answered other questions with similar gravity, using specifics from his 18 terms in Congress to fend off Gomez’s challenges that he’d been dead weight in the House.
Responding to Gomez’s contention that he hadn’t had a single bill passed into law in the past two decades, Markey said coolly, “Mr. Gomez continues to misunderstand the way the legislative process works.”
But the debate also had its more scripted tropes, as well as its own endlessly repeated stock phrases.
Gomez opened the debate by welcoming Markey back to Boston “after 37 years in Washington D.C.” Then he repeatedly went after the Democrat for using “slick lawyerly explanations” to explain hard issues and “putting partisan politics over people.”
Markey, for his part, made much of Gomez’s “old, stale ideas” as a Republican and repeatedly told viewers that Massachusetts was a state of “leaders, not laggards.”
Gomez, normally loose and energetic, sometimes seemed stiff, as though on the verge of forgetting a memorized line. And at least once, he did exactly that.
In Syria “we have a great opportunity here make sure we align ourselves with the right terrorist group,” he said, before quickly papering over his mistake, “or the right rebel group.”
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Mostly, though, the two were well-balanced debaters, Mr. Ubertaccio says, an outcome that nearly always benefits the front-runner.
“Everyone wants to see a knockout punch, but there rarely is one,” he says. “If Gomez starts to close in on Markey [in the polls] it won’t be because of any single thing he said tonight. It will be because his message is resonating – and the debates are just a part of that.”
The two candidates will meet again in debates on June 11 and June 18. The election is scheduled for June 25.