I was moderating a dinner tonight and didn't get to watch the Kentucky Senate debate, as I'd hoped to. Based on early reports, though, the takeaway is that unlike the last debate, which more or less centered on the bizarre "Aqua Buddha" controversy, this one was a sober, even a "senatorial" affair--not a single mention of the Aqua Buddha! This tells me that both campaigns think the race is close enough to win and want to close on a more dignified note--if either candidate's polling had them behind by more than a few points, I think we'd have seen an attempt at a disruptive "game-changer" (bleh). Also worth noting is that Paul has smartened up and finally started mentioning Barack Obama again, which was his best strategy all along (tomorrow, the NRSC will go up with this ad, "Obama's Yes Man"). Here's the lede graphs from the post-debate wrap up in the invaluable Kentucky politics website CN|2:
For those who tuned into the KET debate expecting fist fights or shouting between Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway, they didn't get it.
For those who tuned in looking for some new positions or witty one-liners or memorable lines of any sort, well, they were probably disappointed to.
What Kentuckians did get was two candidates soberly disagreeing about policies, such as the pros and cons of the stimulus bill and health care reform law.
Conway and Paul both looked and sounded much more senatorial than they did eight days ago at one of the most bizarre debates for any office higher than 5th grade class president.
There was no talk of "Aqua Buddha." Instead, Paul got back to talking a lot about President Barack Obama. And Conway took digs at Paul over his statements supporting a proposal to replace the income tax with a 23% national sales tax and potentially raising what future retirees have to pay for Medicare coverage. For the play-by-play, feel free to go back to our cn|2 Politics live blogging of the debate from the press room at KET's studios in Lexington.