Next week in Massachusetts, a special election to fill the Senate seat of the departed Ted Kennedy will take place. The Republican candidate Scott Brown has overcome a huge 30-point deficit in the polls to pull within two points of Democrat Martha Coakley, according to a recent Rasmussen poll. With less than a week to go before the election, the candidates took the stage for a last debate.
The physical contrast was striking. A fit and chiseled Brown (he once posed in the buff for Cosmopolitan) looked ready for action. Though appearing pale and almost lethargic, Coakley interrupted Brown on issues she felt played to her advantage, mainly abortion. This could be a mistake. As Creigh Deeds found out in Virginia, the social issues seem to have taken a back seat to the economy. On his short side, Brown didn't have much to offer on the economic side except tax cuts and stopping Obamacare as the 41st Republican Senator. For Republicans, that may be enough, but will it convince the 50 percent of Massachusetts voters who call themselves Independents?
Also on stage was third party candidate Joe Kennedy (no relation to Ted), who was a pretty much a one trick pony devoted to stopping spending. When moderator David Gergen drew him out as to how to cut spending, Kennedy took the bait and said he'd go after entitlements like Medicare and social security. After this political self-immolation, Gergen (looking rather old himself — I guess he needs to get back to those soft lights on CNN) tossed a softball to Coakley about how her campaign was going. Her tepid response said volumes about a candidate who seems to want to appear substantive without actually saying anything specific. She couldn't even nail the fattest of political pitches. Her flat response about working hard landed with a thud.