Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

September 3, 2010


Host: Ted Simons

Journalists Roundtable

  |   Video
  • Local reporters discuss the week's top stories
Guests:
  • Mary K Reinhart - Arizona Guardian
  • Dennis Welch - Arizona Guardian
  • Steve Goldstein - KJZZ
Category: Journalists Roundtable

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight is Mary K. Reinhart of "The Arizona Guardian." Dennis Welch of "The Arizona Guardian." And Steve Goldstein of KJZZ radio.

Ted Simons: Well, we here at "Horizon" hosted the clean elections gubernatorial candidate debate Wednesday night. And before we get into the what-fors and what-nots, I want to get general impressions from each of you.

Mary K. Reinhart: The general impression on the debate is that Terry Goddard didn't accomplish 19% -- 19 percentage points worth, which is what he needed to do because that's how far he's behind in the latest poll. I think it was an interesting hour with a couple of faux paux. But I don't think there were any home runs hit and that's what the democratic candidate needs to do in this debate. Because it's the only one we're going to see.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Dennis Welch: I thought Terry Goddard was the clear winner, besides the faux paux and missteps, he's demonstrated he's got a command of the facts. Like Mary Kay said, 19 points worth. Not even close.

Ted Simons: General impressions Steve?

Steve Goldstein: There's a 19% deficit, but Goddard had a great grasps of issues and Governor Brewer showed she didn't want to talk with the issues, other than 1070 for example. That was an observation for me. It seemed like she played a lot of defense.

Dennis Welch: I thought Goddard wanted to get her in a discussion on policy. Those of us who have covered him for years, that's where he's most comfortable. He doesn't like politics. He didn't like all the stuff you have to do, raising money and that stuff. But he really likes policy. He would like to draw her into that debate because she has problems talking about that.

Mary K. Reinhart: I don't think he was successful. Her talking point, she stuck to them and attacked and got into the it's all about the unions and where's your plan. And so she had a lot of sort of counter attacks she kept falling back on that were –at some points didn’t have anything to with the debate but it still prevented him from really getting into the weeds were she would have frankly gotten lost.

Ted Simons: If she did fall back on things that were confusing to the discussion, do viewers notice that? Do people hear and see that?

Steve Goldstein: I think they notice it, Ted. The key thing is Jan Brewer's appeal because she's everywoman. And you know what, I mess up my grammar every once in a while. That's why she has a good staff to help her through it. And some might say that's appealing to me.

Ted Simons: Let's get to the elephant in the room. The 13, 10 -- whatever it was -- second pause which has gone absolutely nuts. All over the world. When we left the studio, I had no idea that this thing would be as big as it is. Talk about this and how much of an impact it has on the race.

Dennis Welch: I have to say, first, I think it's way overblown first of all. We're talking about what wasn't said for a few seconds. She had a lapse, a moment. That's fine. But, you know, I think, you know, the effect on the race, I -- I think if anything, it's going to ingratiate supporters to her. They're going to feel sorry for her and all the piling on, on the internet and late-night television, it's going to have Arizonans support and surround their governor.

Steve Goldstein: The two-word phrase that comes to mind is liberal media. They're picking on this poor woman and they don't like her because of the immigration stance and you're just mean. What strikes me, I'm hoping we won't have to hear her mentioned as a vice presidential candidate perhaps.

Ted Simons: We can possibly get into that later. Back to the idea of the very long pause. It was difficult to watch and difficult to go through, I'm sure it was very difficult for her. Does it make a difference?

Mary K. Reinhart: I don't think it makes a bit of difference and I think partly because she handled it well the next day when it went viral from the politico and the Washington post and all points in between, she made herself very available. More so than the night before. She was on radio and gave interviews to many of us and said, hey, it was not my best effort. My best -- 15 seconds or whatever. She said she had a brain freeze, she said she's only human and I talked to a debate coach at Emory University, and given her 20 years of experience, and if she was right off the turnip truck, it might have been a different story. She's had a long history and it endears people to her and they can relate to that.

Dennis Welch: Doesn't it open the door a little bit, because I don't think this in and of itself is going to be a fatal wound but if she starts making other gaffes that people might second-guess whether she's competent to hold the job.

Mary K. Reinhart: I think a complete freeze which any of us can do and have done is one thing. A gaffe where you don't have any clue what you're talking about is another thing. If that happens, yeah, that could definitely hurt her.

Ted Simons: After the primary debate for governor here on "Horizon," she had interesting adventures with the English language and she was called out on it. And there was a significant response that this was charming, down to earth, she's just one of us. Same kind of reaction, you think?

Steve Goldstein: No question about it, and the stylistic problem that a viewer who was paying attention, would have more than that. She lost her place -- she treated Terry Goddard like she was an old school marm and said Terry six times in a row. Terry, Terry, Terry, Terry, Terry, Terry -- is that six? I think she needs to come across kinder than that.

Dennis Welch: I think in a strange way, the 13-second pause took attention away from the facts that she didn't have command of the thoughts and she was side stepping and avoiding issues and had we been talking more about that could be more damaging than just pauses.

Ted Simons: Back to the idea of the pause and some concern regarding a grasp of the issues, if you're Terry Goddard, how do you handle this? I think he called it an unfortunate hiccup. What do you do?

Mary K. Reinhart: I think that's wise. Again, because so many people can relate to it. It looks like your piling on can picking on her. And there's a lot of other things he could go after. He would have been taking a wrong path to hit her hard.

Ted Simons: Take the other side. The idea that someone watching the debate goes this bothers me that she did this. That someone wasn't on her toes as she should have been. How do you take that person and woo them into your camp?

Dennis Welch: I think with Goddard, she did that herself; I don't need to exploit the issue and look like I'm piling on her. I think he did a good job of going after the beheadings issue. That's an issue he should have rightfully gone after because she avoided it during the debate and after.

Steve Goldstein: One minor comparison while it is ten years old is it reminds me of Al Gore shaking his head at George Bush and handled it like the person was beneath me. Goddard could win that way, it's a classier way of doing it.

Mary K. Reinhart: Another thing the professor at Emory University said, people bothered by that pause, weren't big fans anyway. You know, people who would say, gee, this is really telling and tells me something about her capability of running the governor's office, those people weren't going to be her fans anyway.

Ted Simons: The last question. I want to get to the substance of the debate as well. As I was speaking to someone who was very much a Goddard fan, if Terry Goddard had made those faux paux, would you say I'm going to vote for Jan Brewer and he say I’d never do that. So it doesn't really change anything.

Dennis Welch: No, it plays into the 19% poll and the interesting statistics is that everybody has their minds made up. There's only 2% or 3% who say they don't know who they're going to vote for come November. That gaffe, as Mark said before, isn't enough to swing the person to vote for the other person.

Steve Goldstein: If people decided not to watch the debate -- why they didn't -- I don't know -- the idea that they would have caught up with it this way. I'm going to go "Horizon" website and see what happens.

Ted Simons: Thanks for bringing up the "Horizon" website. First, the governor tries to paint Goddard as being ok with the Arizona boycott and being in line with unions who were supporting the boycott. How did that go over?

Mary K. Reinhart: Well it's not true, so I mean, she continually tried to do it, it's a tactic they think will work, I guess. But he pointed out during the debate, that he talked with congressman Robert Halgma, he says it's in spite of it, for the because. Making that point again and again, it brings people further into the camp who were already in there.

Dennis Welch: I think she looked awkward to trying to stick it to Terry. They were talking about beheadings and Goddard called on Brewer to denounce those statements. And I think people saw it for what it was, the talking points.

Steve Goldstein: When he was talking about education. Yes, it does intersect but not in this particular case.

Ted Simons: I'm going to repeat this question a number of times. Viewers see that, viewers care?

Mary K. Reinhart: Do viewers care?

Ted Simons: If they see, not necessarily going along with the line of the conversation.

Mary K. Reinhart: I don't think you're going to change anybody's minds, other than -- if they wanted to, you know, hear a really deep discussion why unions support Democrats and not Republicans, typically, I guess we could have gone there. But I don't think it was a surprise to anyone. [Laughter]

Ted Simons: Let me answer that one for you. No, we would not have gone there. We only have an hour. On the other hand, Terry Goddard talking about drug smuggling and cartels and how he's fought these things. How he has successfully pushed against these things. Does that resonate with voters, viewers, anyone?

Dennis Welch: When it comes to the immigration issue, the governor owns this thing and the best thing he can do is stop people from leaving his camp to go to hers. It's fine he's done good work, but as resonating with voters, his supporters like to hear that talk, but it's not going to get a lot of traction. She owns that debate. She's the signer of 1070. And she's got that lock, stock and barrel.
Steve Goldstein: He can make a point he's made a difference in western union and stopping the money transfers and stopping drug and human smuggling, but it's almost a little more complicated and people aren't as patient to dig in as much.

Mary K. Reinhart: It's a prime example she's got a story she can tell in two sound bites and Terry has a much longer story and there's chapters and lots of good points and good work and true, but, you know, it's just really hard to kind of, I think, for voters to follow the story. I think maybe he needs a couple of sound bites. I know that sounds bad. She's got an easy story to tell and I don't think he's going to win on that issue anyway. He can talk about what he's done, but she owns the issue.

Steve Goldstein: He's very competent, I don’t think any one can say otherwise, but competence when going against someone who has that buzz issue is going to be tough to beat.

Ted Simons: Goddard went after her regarding the economic development plan. When it's an emergency, it's all hands on deck, and it hasn't been, and wanted to get the jobs and the economy addressed and we did address them, but you didn't do enough. All hands weren't necessarily on deck. Again, a win for Goddard?

Dennis Welch: I think that's effective. If he's got a chance to win, it's on the economy. We've seen the numbers. The economy, jobs don't look good and don't look good for the foreseeable future and if people start to feel hurt economically, not being able to pay bills and losing jobs and gets hours cut, I think the people in power are going to pay the price.

Steve Goldstein: The issue is whether people choose to blame illegal immigrants for that and if they do, Governor Brewer wins on that.

Ted Simons: There was one point in the debate that the governor said she was handed a mess when she took over and the previous administration was at fault and part of the narrative, she mentioned there but for the grace of god, I arrived. Something along these lines, Dennis, I think you actually wrote about this. Interesting comment, interesting thing to say.

Dennis Welch: It was an interesting comment and I would have loved to have her explain it further after the debate. But she wasn't sticking around. She didn't take many questions afterwards. It certainly was a strange thing to say that she'd come in and thinks that god installed her to save the state from a financial ruin.

Ted Simons: Does she really think that or is that colloquialism or just down home talk.

Steve Goldstein: It sounds like good old down home talk to me, and to split infinitives I am not sure she said what she meant anyway.

Ted Simons: You don't think it was a big player?

Mary K. Reinhart: I think it was an interesting point to bring out. But I do think it was another case where she didn't quite say what she meant.

Ted Simons: What about the idea where Terry Goddard went after the governor, saying you have not balance balanced the budget? First of all, is he correct, and secondly, if he is, is anyone paying attention to that?

Mary K Reinhart: They don't seem to care. We know there's a -- we haven't had a balanced budget in a couple of years, since she took office. She took office during a mess but she owns it now. It's been almost two years, or going on, and I think the clearest example that I think, you know, Terry Goddard didn't make or didn't have a chance to make is that the current budget is because voters balanced it -- if those -- if you say the budget is balanced based on something that hasn't happened yet that might not, yes, balanced. But there's also out of whack by 150-plus million dollars even before the federal government decided not to give us as much Medicaid money.

Ted Simons: But that explanation, that's a wonderful example of can he do that, can he say that? Or will people still be watching or flip over to jeopardy."

Dennis Welch: I don't think budget issues resonate with the public, because buy by and large, most aren't affected. If you're getting services from the government, you care, but by and large, they're not getting hurt by that.

Steve Goldstein: The budget is balanced because of prop 100, sort of, but the governor doesn't raise taxes. So --

Dennis Welch: And when they pass the budget, technically, it's balanced. But what happens is, you know, all sorts of economic factors. You balance budgets based on projections.

Mary K. Reinhart: Right, a projection, right.

Ted Simons: That brings up the idea of the governor repeatedly asking for the attorney general's plan. Your plan to pay for education. Your plan to pay for all sorts of reforms and improvements. Did that strike a cord -- it worked well for her in the Republican primary for governor. When she went after Buz Mills, that was a biggy. Was it a biggy for her this week?

Mary K Reinhart: I think it's a good talking point for her. Honestly, I do. He's between a rock and hard place. I think it would be difficult for him to councilman out with a detailed plan, guess what? They'll below it to smithereens. He's going to create jobs, that's not a budget plan. That's not a way to balance the budget right now.

Dennis Welch: And I think she did a poor job of articulating. She kept saying where's your plan. She should have said where is your budget plan because Terry did put out a 12-page economic plan on how he believes he is going to 100’s of thousands of jobs to the state, so he can rely a little bit on that.

Steve Goldstein: I think it's going to work out well because again it makes a complicated issue simple, which is going to help her.

Ted Simons: The prison issue, the last substantive issue we'll talk about here. We're running out of time on this point. Again, the governor seemed to say we did the study and tried to find out what was wrong. Here's what was wrong. A tragic incident. The attorney general saying it's on your watch. Reclassification and these things occurred. What -- good point for Goddard. Anyone care? Bad point for Goddard?

Dennis Welch: I don't know, the classification I was struck by because I'm not sure the escapees was a classification issue. It was more about how these dangerous people get put into what he's claiming an unsecure prison. That didn’t have anything to do with the classification issue as I understood it.

Mary K. Reinhart: It's a good issue and he's been hitting it hard. He came out with a press release almost every day. Certainly when they were on the lamb. The four escapees from the Kingman facility. It points to an explosion in our private prison system and if -- if Terry Goddard continues along that line, he might have -- I mean, the governor and her folks wanted to privatize the whole system and nobody wanted to do that, that doesn't mean that wasn't the direction they were headed and now we've got these guys in a facility which was created for DUI offenders and now we have murderers there. And I think there are still a lot of questions to be answered on that.

Steve Goddard: If the Goddard people want to get in the mud and make an ad it's almost like a Willie Horton type of thing. A couple was killed from these guys escaping. Were there enough things in place to keep them from escaping?

Dennis Welch: We're talking about how these issues are going to affect money. Goddard's only got a million dollars.

Ted Simons: They're both running clean. If you make a big statement, the other guy has to raise money to counteract the statement real quickly. After the debate, the governor was asked regarding the beheading situation. First question. Didn't want to deal with it. Asked a couple more times, and said, thank you, and went off. That's getting play on the internet as well. How big a deal is that?

Dennis Welch: That was significant, because the governor, you want your executives to be able to handle questions and it doesn't look good when they don't answer and walk off. That's unacceptable. The next day, she was playing damage control and eventually apologized to the -- for making those statements. I think she told the A.P. it was a mistake and shouldn't have said it.

Mary K. Reinhart: I think the damage control was important for her campaign and she made -- as Dennis said, very available the next day and even said about escaping down the service elevator, maybe I shouldn't have done that.

Ted Simons: Will people see that and say there's the media beating up on her.

Steve Goldstein: And especially if they see a person who appears on this program a lot -- the one thing that strikes me, the hour before this was a hiccup, it was a rough night, and never recovered. Seems like she was fine the rest the debate so I'm surprised she would use that as an excuse.

Dennis Welch: I was impressed by her apology and I made a mistake. This is the first time we've seen the governor do that. She's made other faux paux and never backed off of them. This is interesting she would say, yeah, if I gave the wrong impression, I'm sorry. I think this could be the evolution of this governor.

Ted Simons: To wrap this all up, sounds as if there's not going to be another debate. Is there any scenario you can see for another debate?

Mary K. Reinhart: None, she closed the door on it yesterday and I don't see any positives for her campaign to sit down with Terry Goddard again.

Dennis Welch: The only place to go is down. If she sits down with Terry, you risk another performance like this and talking about real damage.

Steve Goldstein: If more voters were passionate, and they could pressure her. But that's not going to happen.

Ted Simons: Where do the campaigns go from here?

Steve Goldstein: I think Goddard has to go on the attack. Less about competence, at this point, she certainly has a sizeable lead and how far can he cut in with the deep budget issues? I don't think a lot.

Dennis Welch: I think he goes to the folks in D.C. and begs for money for independent expenditures to help out. Right now, not playing in Arizona and he's not going to get a lot of help. Whatever issue he wants to do he's not going to have a lot of money to push the idea.

Mary K Reinhart: Right, he's going to need media help on this one and that means pushing again on the economy and jobs and private prisons and figuring out ways to get some earned media, as we say, because he didn't have the money.

Steve Goldstein: He's lost for governor twice. You feel like is he going to go with his hair on fire the rest of the time. That's his one chance. But knowing Terry I don’t think that is likely.

Ted Simons: Before we go we should mention that Larry Gist and Barry Hess were also here. I thought the libertarian candidate did well. When it came to the idea of private prisons, there wasn't a lot of reflection during the debate and that was relatively refreshing.

Dennis Welch: Barry's run for governor before. This ain't his first rodeo. He knows what he's talking about and he's very consistent in his philosophy and ideology, and that comes through and the viewers pick that up.


Mary K. Reinhart: And as we were saying earlier he’s got nothing to lose, so I can say whatever he wants.


Ted Simons: We'll end it right there. Great discussion. Thank you for watching.

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