At their worst, political discussions are nothing more than a series of ramblings, rehearsed zingers and fake outrage. They can also produce a series moments at their best.
Tuesday night’s penultimate debate between Governor. The penultimate debate between Gov. Tim Walz, Scott Jensen and GOP challenger was more of the former than the latter. It did however bring some of those moments within the constraints of a strictly format, with questions being posed by regional TV journalists that were focused on issues and not politics.
Moments of Money
Opening statements were not allowed in the format, so the debate moved straight into questions about taxes, health care, policing and mining. The closing statements were left for speeches prepared by the candidates. Both wasted the opportunity.
Walz stated that span style=”font weight: 400 You have a choice about a Minnesota vision.” Walz said, “One that questions our elections and tells women that they cannot make their own choices, one which defunds our schools. Or you can take advantage of the opportunity that brought many people to Minnesota. A chance to create a state that is inclusive. What do you know? The average person spends a little more on their health care. Education is a bit more expensive. We spend slightly more on our roads. We are aware that if you invest in the future, it will pay you back ten times as much. It is a state that recognizes that it is not enough to complain about problems when they arise. People who want to tear us apart aren’t going to do it .”
Jensen concluded with an indictment against Walz’s first term. “Everyone has been through some very difficult times. Everyone has felt heartbreak watching their lives turn upside down. I believe everyone has realized that Tim Walz is a failure. He lost it. He tried. He made mistakes again. Who will step up? You have the ability to take back your rights. You can take .”
The make-the-campaign-manager-proud moments
Both candidates expected a question about abortion. Jensen remained with the GOP tactic that said state courts had granted a right to the procedure under the Minnesota Constitution and the next governor cannot reverse it. “As governor I will not ban abortion. I can’t,” Jensen said.
Walz replied, “Scott was very specific in May. He laughed at me and said, “no kidding Sherlock. To get things done, I am running for governor. I will ban abortion. It’s not news. Jensen’s position has changed following the June Dobbs decision, which found that there was no legal right to abortion under the U.S. Constitution. Walz said, “I didn’t have to practice 40years of medicine to change my position on health care in its final weeks after we saw how unpopular it was.”
Jensen attempted to include in his response to a question on the opioid epidemic criticisms about Walz’s handling the alleged theft by pandemic relief vendors of up to $250million. The money was used to feed children, not to pocket it. He said that the state could sue opioid manufacturers, but not those who perpetrated the fraud.
Jensen was warned by the panel not to postpone that topic. But, he finally got his chance and was ready.
“Honestly I think that the governor’s bureau was lazy… The fact is, governor had every right believe that fraud might be taking place with Feeding Our Futures $250 million.”
span style=”font weight: 400 What did Gov. Jensen also added.
Walz claimed that his agency found the fraud and tried to stop the payments, but was stopped by the courts. The FBI investigated the matter and 49 people were charged. His sometimes legalistic explanations weren’t enough to explain the allegations of government waste, fraud, and abuse.
The didn’t-see-that-coming moments
Jensen was in agreement with Walz on legislation to raise fees on opioids distributors and manufacturers to help pay for addiction treatment and care for children of addicted parents. Walz, however, chose to ignore the history of working together and cited Jensen’s article “Confessions Of A Prescription Drug Pusher” which details how he and others prescribed opioids after being influenced.
Walz stated that the companies “didn’t do it all.” Jensen was accused of being drank and served “expensive food” by Walz.
Jensen believes that shifting the focus of the campaign from abortion to inflation and crime is a priority. Jensen answered a question regarding school shootings and spoke about the importance of keeping children and teachers safe. Then he awkwardly flipped to criticize Walz’s response in spring 2020 to riots and an increase in violent crime. He ended his remarks by giving Walz a nickname.
“This is the result of lawlessness that swept our country, and it began with Tim Walz’s delaying in May 2020 and June 2020. He ignited a dangerous spread of lawlessness. Jensen stated that he could be considered the “godfather” of the current crime epidemic in the country.
The moments of ‘wait, how?’
Walz made the statement in defense of his role in the riots that erupted in Minneapolis and St. Paul following the death of George Floyd. The unrest was prolonged by the delay in mobilizing State Patrol and National Guard, which led to the destruction of a precinct where officers were able to escape.
Walz, despite knowing that it was coming, rambled through an explanation, noting the fact that the unrest was more than what was seen in the state and was surprising. He claimed he was the one in the room making decisions, while Jensen and others were watching. He said that he was proud of Minnesota’s response and the first responders who went out to help, including firefighters, police, National Guard, and citizens span>
Jensen leapt on it. Jensen jumped on it. Gov. Walz said to you, “I’m proud Minnesota’s response?” Wow. Jensen stated that Minnesota’s response could soon be featured in TV ads.
One questioner asked each opponent to give a nice comment about the other. Jensen was the first to respond. He paused and said that he had thought about this question for a while before coming up with an answer that implied that he hadn’t really.
“I think Tim Walz…is an affable individual with… a wonderful smile.”