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Why Neither Bob Casey Nor Tom Smith Want a Debate

The campaigns of Bob Casey and Republican challenger Tom Smith say they’re working to schedule a U.S. Senate debate. PoliticsPA has been asking for 3 weeks, and for 3 weeks that’s been the answer.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that some groups, namely the League of Women Voters, are having a tough time coordinating an event between the two.

Here’s PoliticsPA’s guess at why there hasn’t been more urgent movement toward a debate: neither candidate really wants one. Both are more comfortable conducting their campaign via television ads.

Typically, a challenger like Smith with low name ID would be beating down the door to get on stage and in front of television cameras with Casey.

Why hasn’t he? Because he’s not a great speaker. The down side to Smith’s farm boy, regular guy approach is that, when confronted aggressively, he’s prone to gaffes – like a quarterback with a poor rating against the blitz. He’s gotten better on the stump, but a face-to-face showdown with Casey is a whole other matter.

In fact, his appearances at the two dozen debates during the GOP primary mostly just allowed opponents to put together damaging web videos. Smith cruised to a 20 point win in the primary because of his effective presence on TV, not his skill on the stage.

On the flip side, most candidates with an inarticulate opponent would relish the idea of a debate. But not Casey. Why not? Because he’s got a clinical dearth of charisma. His style and campaign are boring – deliberately. He’s not a bomb thrower or a fight-picker like Rick Santorum, the man he beat in 2006.

Should Smith bring his A-game and make a convincing, emotional case during a debate, Casey could come off as a boring bureaucrat. Why risk that if you’ve got a lead in the polls?

Hopefully for everyone’s sake a debate will be added to the books before election day. But don’t expect either campaign to hype a bunch of watch parties for it.

6 Responses

  1. Senator Casey abandoned his primary responsibility to his constituents when he endorsed Barack Obama 3 weeks prior to PA primary in 2008. I’ve been in regular contact with him since that sorry time. All he does is smile. Tom Smith’s assessment of him is correct IMO.

  2. Mr Smith loves being in front of a crowd or cameras. Do not let him fool you. Yes, he tries to make a fool of a lot of people. He gets up in front of a crowd and speaks with lots of energy. He will definitely pull some remarks that will not be polite.

    Why do people want to support Smith? Personally a lot of his former workers are not supporting him for senator. However some fill that they have to support him because of coal.

    I bet we all wish that honest candidates would run for office who will do good for the country.
    However there are always personal agendas that they want fulfilled. Mr Smith will have many personal agendas.

    Vote for the very best candidate and not the one plugging in the most money for there stardom. This country deserves good truthful senators.

  3. Former liberal Democrat, now Tea Party Republican, Tom Smith is a flip-flopper in the mold of Etch-a-Sketch Romney.

  4. Tom Smith has a tremendous work ethic and is a man of fantastic chraracter. I would be proud to have him as my US Senator. As for Casey, he’s your typical shifty career politician. How can someone respect him, let alone vote for him, is beyond my comprehension.

  5. The other reason for no debate is that both sides already know Casey is going to win. 🙂

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