Dig Baton Rouge

Cassidy v. Landrieu: Who won the final debate?

By Nick BeJeaux

 

Monday night’s debate between Bill Cassidy and Mary Landrieu, the last before the runoff for Louisiana’s open senate seat, stank of desperation.

I suppose it’s common sense that political opponents get testier with each other when the twelfth hour approaches, but while this bout of remarks was not particularly nasty, it is a lot of “he said, she said.” So, in the interest of eschewing political BS, I shall attempt to break down each candidate’s final performance before the election and even deign to offer an opinion as to who “won” the debate – if such a thing is possible.

Ladies First

Senator Landrieu abandoned her typical strategy of highlighting her successes and promising continued success if she’s elected, resorting to direct attacks on Cassidy – ball-busting ones.

If you’ve been living under a rock, Cassidy has been accused of collecting a $20,000 salary from the LSU medical school for time he logged while in Washington. Of course, Landrieu has expenses of her own that have gained attention, namely the over $40,000 in expenses for charter flights, paid for by taxpayers. However, those funds were obtained and used legally over the course of six years, not to mention reimbursed by the senator’s campaign. Just hours before the debate began, LSU announced it has begin a “review” of Cassidy’s employment with the University, further compounding this problem for Cassidy and lending momentum to Landrieu.

While other issues were discussed, like the Affordable Care Act and Landrieu’s remarks on Louisiana’s racial divide, this scandal – if you can call it that – pervaded the debate to the very end. However, it must be said that this “boost” for Landrieu was entirely caused by the actions (or inactions) of Cassidy, not her own. And, as anyone in the professional world can tell you, building success upon the mistakes of others will be a shaky success at best.

Now It’s Time To See the Doctor

Cassidy, quite frankly, didn’t do so hot. He simply couldn’t overcome the accusations of thievery, and nearly every attack he launched was reflected right back to his alleged padded payroll. Cassidy claims that the allegations of him double-dipping from LSU are false, but he has so far been unable to irrefutably prove otherwise.

He tried to attack Landrieu’s support for the ACA and vowed to repeal it, to which Landrieu replied:

“If he is [elected] he’ll be doing a lot more than fighting President Obama. He’ll be fighting subpoenas, because he padded his payroll.”

Ouch.

He also tried to take on Landrieu’s recent statements about the South not being the friendliest place to African-Americans and women in the past. Had I been and advisor of some sort on Cassidy’s payroll, I would have advised him to stay away from this at all costs. Unfortunately, he chose to run after it and ended up smashing himself against a brick wall of historical facts. Also, he didn’t exactly defend his position, not that he could.

So Who Won?

Sorry, Republicans, this one goes to Landrieu; you can’t really dispute that. It may not cost him the runoff – we’ll know for sure after Dec. 6 – but it will definitely cost him votes. Lest we forget, a significant number of Republicans in Rob Maness’ camp flocked to Cassidy after Maness endorsed him. Up until that point Maness painted Cassidy as a borderline liberal, and that fragile acceptance they have for him now may have all but disappeared. Cassidy’s one and only saving grace at this point is the unpopularity of Democrats among consistent voters.

Speaking of Democrats, Landrieu may have won the battle, but there’s still a war to be fought. With only three day left until the runoff, it will be interesting to see if her campaign manages to drag voters back to the polls with a vote for Mary.

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