Wisconsin Senate Debate: Imagery Played Larger Role Than Words
The first Wisconsin Senate debate Friday night was pretty much what most voters expected. Neither Tommy Thompson nor Tammy Baldwin made any serious errors, while they each underscored the main themes of their campaign.
Everything seemed to follow the script that any politico could have predicted. Thompson touted his record as governor and made it sound as if he were still a job creator, while Baldwin repeated the need for tax fairness and health care security for all.
So with the talking points well established it was left for the voters to reflect on imagery and style between the two candidates.
My first thought was that Baldwin was too tight, too coached, and too tense. She made point after point, provided fact after fact, and as such made the debate informative. But she seemed too controlled and not as conversational as I know her to be in most situations.
There were only a few times when her smile flashed, and I was hoping she would engage the voters with that more frequently.
I know Thompson has been a master politician, and has a track record to show that is indeed a fact. But there appeared to be an underlying anger and tension in his face and body language during the debate that allowed for his talking points to be lost. Repeating the same lines over and over may be the strategy for some debaters, but when they appear as trite lines to run out the clock of a debate they are then counter-productive.
There was one lingering image that remains from the debate when Thompson had his head down while looking straight ahead. His chin was tucked down towards his neck, and the layers of flesh rolled out and around. Surely there was some media advisor to instruct him how to hold his body during the debate.
The reason I bring that image up is that it speaks to voters, I suspect, that Thompson has been around for a long time, and might be more interested in padding his legacy than making any changes in national policy. Thompson looked aged, and worn out. His ideas were not new, but repeated lines from the conservative playbook from over the years. Voters might have looked at Thompson and noticed a politician who does not know when to leave the stage rather than a candidate for higher office.
I suspect that imagery played as much a role in the senate debate as the words. If that was the case then Tammy Baldwin was the victor.