In the Richmond Report the Washington Post's Michael Shear seemed ready to call the cable TV face-off a draw, except for one rather striking difference between the two candidates' answers to one particular question.
“...But perhaps the most stunning moment came at the end, when Matthews started grilling the two candidates about the upcoming presidential contest. Final question. if you had to vote right now on a piece of paper in front of you, Hillary or Mark Warner, who would you vote for?
“Miller said, simply: ‘Mark Warner.’
“But Webb, perhaps forgetting that Warner is practically a rock star in the state Webb is hoping to get elected from, said: ‘I remain undecided.’”
For a guy who switched political parties, not so long ago, that was a rather poorly phrased answer. If Webb was prepared for the question, I don't see why he wouldn't have had a better answer. As for why Webb isn't on the popular Warner's bandwagon ... it's puzzling to this scribe.
OK, I've read the Webb bloggers unified response that their man is looking down the road, that his unwillingness to back Warner, now, officially or not, is a clever ploy to gain favor with the Clintons. Sorry, there's nothing clever about it, if that's really why Webb won't say he leans toward a favorite son in a national race. In fact, it's probably not even a good thing to say for anyone trying to help Webb.
Why would an undecided Democrat in Virginia think Webb's concern for not stepping on Clinton toes, to do with a national race in 2008, is a reason to vote for Webb? Whoever thought that artless dodge up ought to find another way to help Webb defeat Miller.
With the Webb propagandists, it seems to be all about his celebrity status and their "passion" for him, and very little else. With Miller's propaganda, it's about blurring much of his inconvenient history as a lobbyist -- I can't find out how old he is anywhere -- while standing totally for the political correctness of the 1990s. Both camps have stayed perpetually outraged at the lies of the other. Both camps have been equally willing to make good Democrats cringe at the tone of their propaganda.
In “Democratic rivals answer questions,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Tyler Whitley wrote:
“...Given a chance to question each other, Webb asked Miller what he would do to clean up the lobbying scandal in Washington. Miller is a former lobbyist. Miller said he would ban all gifts to members of Congress. He said he would get rid of special-interest, pork-barrel projects, which lobbyists help put in the federal budget. He also would seek public funding of television advertising in political campaigns, he said.
“Miller asked Webb about his past support of Republican candidates, including George W. Bush over Al Gore. Webb has been quoted as blaming ‘Clinton fatigue.’ Webb replied that the country has changed since 2000.”
Note: This post was updated at 2 p.m. today.