Today’s UpTake- Assessing The Final DFL Governor Candidates Debate – Mon Aug 9, 2010

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DFL MPR Debate

Click to watch Mark Dayton, Margaret Anderson Kelliher & Matt Entenza debate

Political observers & reporters assess the final DFL Gubernatorial debate

We asked University of Minnesota Professor of rhetoric John Logie to comment on our live blog during the debate.  His assessment:

“I think Dayton ‘won’ in the moment where he looked MAK in the eye and challenged her math. He seemed well prepared and thoughtful throughout. He’s not a dynamo, but I suspect this will put him over the top”

More of Professor Logie’s observations on the debate later in this story.

Rachel Stassen-Berger at the Star Tribune focused in on the disagreement between DFL-endorsed candidate Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Mark Dayton over just who is taxed under Dayton’s tax plan. Dayton said it wasn’t true that middle income couples were going to be taxed under his plan. Kelliher later told The UpTake that Dayton’s figures are wrong.

Pat Kessler at WCCO-TV gave the edge in the debate to Kelliher. His story focused on how Kelliher and Entenza were taking shots at Dayton. He also reports on how all three candidates said keeping the Vikings is important, but not more important than solving the state’s financial problems.

Tom Hauser at KSTP-TV appeared not to share Kessler’s view. His report was a little more critical of Kelliher, particularly for trying to engage Matt Entenza in attacking Dayton.

Bill Salisbury at the Pioneer Press focused on the electability issue, noting that Kelliher said she would defeat Republican Tom Emmer because “I know his tricks, and I know his buttons.”

The Associated Press report on the debate skipped the dramatics and focused on the rhetoric. The first few paragraphs of the story are so lacking in new information that they could have been written before the debate.

Continue reading for more of Professor John Logie’s observations of the debate.

Kelliher touts the Star-Tribune endorsement — good move. Some listeners may have missed it.

Entenza puts Emmer front and center in his critique.

And so far, we have a classic DFL circular firing squad!

Dayton invokes Wellstone as a potential supporter of his progressive tax plan.

Entenza does a good job of differentiating himself from Dayton pointing to 1998 as a time when the tax balance was right.

Charming turn of phrase from Kelliher “invest[ing] in our littlest learners”

The questioner really helped Kelliher with this question (and self-identified as a supporter). Kelliher sounded like a parent when she responded to that question. Entenza is defaulting to his legal experience and it’s off message.

Now Entenza has circled back.

Agghhhhh. Entenza’s Favre joke lands with a thud.

Entenza cleverly pairs the proposed Vikings stadium with local investment in the Guthrie. Interesting angle.

Good and fair question from Dayton to Entenza about what Entenza wants in place of No Child Left Behind.

Dayton actually scored a point with me for asking a serious question that was not a disguised hit.

Entenza’s question was a bit of a trap, and MAK is sidestepping it.

I’m wondering whether the “higher than Hawaii” refrain is working for MAK.

MAK just walked into a trap of her own making. Dayton was waiting for this.Dayton had the numbers at hand. MAK just hurt herself (and I support her, btw).

This question is a HUGE softball for MAK. She oughta hit a home run.

Entenza’s ad libs are just not working, IMHO

When Entenza is on script he is good and effective . . . but he’s shakier in dynamic situations.

Entenza is having his best moment of the night in explaining how he (by his account) set the stage for MAK’s challenges of Pawlenty.

Entenza says we’re too broke for a state-run single payer system.

This is in MAK’s wheelhouse. She just had her best moment of the night. Radiated passion on that issue.

Why is Entenza going back here? Dayton is dull but thoughtful here.

MAK is using a question directed to Entenza to needle Dayton. Entenza called her on it. MAK just hurt herself again.

Both MAK and Entenza have referred to one another as “opponents” in campaign literature. I think Dayton wisely has directed his criticism toward Emmer.

Wellstone remains a treasured name among PROGRESSIVE Minnesotans but he might not have won his last race had he lived (it was very close). MAK is staking out clear centrist territory to Dayton’s solid democratic left. I think Dayton runs a risk in the general of being perceived as “too lefty” and thus wonder whether he will tack to the right if he wins the primary.

Wellstone could pull centrists and even some righties because of his charisma and ability to stand on principle (though I hated his DOMA vote). Dayton does NOT have Wellstone’s charisma nor Wellstone’s reputation for consistent principled stands. If I were the GOP, I’d be rooting for Dayton.

The loser tonight? The DFL process. All of these candidates have considerable qualities and they are competing today — eight weeks before the general election.Emmer has been the de facto nominee on the GOP side. Meanwhile the DFL is too busy with veiled attackson one another to really focus on a critique of Emmer.

I think Dayton “won” in the moment where he looked MAK in the eye and challenged her math. He seemed well prepared and thoughtful throughout. He’s not a dynamo, but I suspect this will put him over the top. (And remember, I’m a MAK supporter).

Assess the debate for yourself and see what our audience said during the debate.  Full video and live blog replay can be found here.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »