I watched the Sunday debate between Casey and Santorum (on Meet the Press) as did many others. I thought Russert did pretty well in having researched a lot of the local coverage and hot issues, so that he pressed each candidate on some touchy points, but that also had the downside that lots of other interesting subjects (i.e., those not already campaign slogans or constant media refrains) didn't get much play. Santorum looked much more strained and less convivial than usual, and he dropped some real crazy-bombs (e.g., sticking with his claims of Iraq WMD's and 9/11 connections, even though Bush has now disavowed both), but he also managed to rev up during his segments into fast speech and quick sound-bite-coverage, dominating the clock. For his part, Casey seemed sane and reasonable, but also a bit slow-moving and fuzzy -- he has a bit of a Big Lug persona on camera -- and didn't necessarily push some of the points that he might have. On the other hand, he got in some good sound-bites at strategic moments, esp. just before ad breaks, when his opponent wouldn't get a come-back (best was in responding to Santorum's WMD craziness with "I think we've found the 2% of the time that he disagrees with the President!" heh). I'm sure Santorum folks thought their guy won, Casey folks felt he did ok, disappointed PA progressives continued to shake their heads. Less clear to me is who the audience is for this thing -- potential nationwide donors? the sliver of centrist undecideds in Pennsylvania? -- and thus I don't know what they would have thought... (Perhaps those just wanting to see who Casey is will come away thinking him a viable alternative, at least.)
Many many people have given their thoughts on this, to varying degrees of detail. In no meaningful order, I offer these:
- The Philadelphia Daily News calls it a draw, and gives their best and worst moments, as well as a link to the video. (!)
- Tom Ferrick agrees with many that Tim Russert was probably the winner, but gives a more nuanced view of what each side accomplished or revealed in the course of this appearance.
- Above Average Jane gives her own slected out-takes.
- Albert gives more blow-by-blow coverage, ranting at both candidates, the moderator, and the constraints of our electoral system. Rage against the machine!
- Pennsyltucky Politics opines that Casey won by beating low expectations and looking capable next to a major figure. They also offer a round-up of views from partisans of many stripes.
- Not surprisingly, Michael Smerconish thinks Santorum won handily, although not necessarily for the reasons you'd expect; he just likes that Santorum stands for something, however misguided. um, whee?
- PhillyFuture is collecting reader reactions to the event here, so you can add your two cents anytime.