Tom Barrett Wins Second Debate With Scott Walker, Mike Gousha True Professional Broadcaster

What a difference a few days can make when it comes to debating your political opponent.  While I was not impressed with the first performance from  Tom Barrett last week, I was thrilled with his demeanor and framing of the questions that were asked  Thursday night.

With conviction and well-crafted responses Tom Barrett projected strength and a no-nonsense manner that appeared to set Scott Walker back during the hour-long debate.  One of my complaints from the first debate was that Walker never appeared to be knocked from his narrative.  That was not the case Thursday.

Time after time Barrett made sharp comparisons with Walker, and used his time most effectively to underscore the reason this state is facing a recall election, and how he would work to fix the problems we face.  Walker was forced to respond to the charges that were leveled against him.

While Walker was all sunshine and able to dance around the questions in last week’s debate, he had to adjust to a much more professional moderator who peppered the candidates with questions aimed at drawing out more thoughtful and comprehensive answers.  Mike Gousha knows Wisconsin politics, and also is not one to allow for a non-answer to continue taking up valuable air time.  

It was apparent that Walker had been coached on how to try to achieve this political skill of eating up time in a debate, but Gousha has dealt with the ‘Walkers’ of politics before, and pressed forward.  It was one of the best debates I have watched in some time, in large measure due to how Gousha framed the questions, used time for the advantage of the audience, and focused on issues that mattered.

The punch line of the night concerned the John Doe probe.  With almost an actors sense of timing Barrett delivered the line that will reverberate around the lunch counters and offices Friday.  He stated ““I have a police department that arrests felons. He has a practice of hiring them.”

I also had to clap when Barrett noted he has been in public life for 28 years and no one from his staff has ever been charged with a crime, and he’s never had a criminal defense fund.  (Walker is the only sitting governor in the nation with a criminal defense fund.)

The most telling response about the intentions of Walker was when pressed to answer if he would sign or veto a bill creating a right-to-work state, the only thing the governor could offer was that the legislation “would not get” to his desk, and as such would not specifically answer the question.  Duck and run  works best when no one is watching.  In front of a live statewide audience it was a most revealing moment about Walker who has proved to be dishonest, and prone to radical lurches to the far-right.

The most emotional part of the debate concerned the attack ad from the Walker campaign showing a dead baby.  It was clear Barrett was angry, and took time to call the governor out on it.  Looking at Walker and pressing his point the mayor said “that is Willie Horton stuff,” and “you should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker.”

Will the debate move people to change their minds?  No.  At this stage no one not in a coma (as noted in a funny way in a recent edition of the Isthmus) is truly undecided.  For at least 15 months Wisconsin voters have known what they would do if a recall election took place.

What I think the debate might have achieved is building on the abundant energy to get Democrats to the polls in record numbers.  Barrett delivered a dynamic debate performance that we can be proud of as the campaign enters the final weekend with a sharp contrast with Walker, whose only objective is  “divide and conquer.”

Tom Barrett showed during the debate Wisconsin has another path it can take come Tuesday.

9 thoughts on “Tom Barrett Wins Second Debate With Scott Walker, Mike Gousha True Professional Broadcaster

  1. Dante

    It was another very nice job by the governor especially when it was two against one in this debate. The softballs tossed at Barrett were embarrassing for the moderator.

  2. Ronnie schwartz

    Are you kidding? Mayor Barrett doesn’t have any ideas or plans of action. Every time I see his face he looks like a deer caught in the headlights. There must have been someone in the Dem party with actual knowledge of how government works. He’s a terrible debater and I believe confused on what the governor’s job entails, or the mayor’s job. He didn’t win the debate. He didn’t even come in second.

  3. Mark E. Bye

    Really? I was disappointed with Gousha. I thought he lobbed far too many “yes” or “no” softballs in Walker’s direction. He needed to press him harder on the “right to work” issue (one of many “yes” or “no” questions that was left unanswered by Walker). I was thrilled with Barrett showing some fire in the belly.

  4. patrick


    “I just want to say I’ve been in public life for 28 years,” said Barrett, who served in the state Legislature and Congress before becoming Milwaukee mayor in 2004, “and no one on my staff has ever been charged with a crime and I’ve never had a criminal defense fund.”

    A quick Google search, however, found a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news article reporting that Joseph N. Cantu, a receptionist in Barrett’s mayoral office, was charged in May 2010 with suffocating his ex-girlfriend.

    “These are shocking and serious charges,” Patrick Curley, Barrett’s chief of staff, said at the time.

    Barrett’s people would argue that choking one’s girlfriend isn’t as serious as sending an email before moving on to the Republican war on women.

  5. scott

    walker just proved he can’t answer questions unless he lies. if his lips move there is a 99% chance he is lying

  6. Solly

    I was watching the WMC faux advocacy ad, chock full o’ lies, and then encouraging viewers to call Scott Wanker’s office at 608.266.1212 to let him know what we think, but when I tried to call, much like last year for weeks at a time during his “dropping the bomb,” (after all, he really didn’t care what the constituents thought, only David Koch) the voicemail box was full and wouldn’t accept any messages. So I called WMC at 608.258.3400 and left a voicemail message that I had seen their lying message, and that “Scott Wanker and his corporate union busting puppet masters can suck it.” It’s only fair that after Johnsonville Sausage, Sargento Cheese and Ashley Furniture as part of WMC spend $2 million on this fake campaign propping up Wanker, they get some recognition from consumers.

  7. Chris

    Do a quick fact check…Barrett has hired more felons than Walker. Because none of Walker’s aides have been convicted, he technically hasn’t hired any…on the other hand, Barrett’s receptionist suffocated his ex-girlfriend AND he appointed convicted felon Boris Gokhman to a governmental position…therefore, Barrett has hired more felons than Walker and this makes him a liar as well.

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