Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The League of Women Voters Debate: The Aftermath

Last nights debate with Adam Schiff was a pleasant experience for me and there were many positives to be gained for my campaign for the 28th District Congressional seat. However, there were also a few setbacks as certain things didn't go exactly as I had planned.

Arriving at the venue a bit early, I was worried that the evening would be a complete bust as there were only about 15 people there. However, the crowd slowly trickled in and eventually ended up nearly filling the 100 seat City Council chambers in Burbank City Hall.

The crowd was unsettlingly partisan. I could tell most of the people there knew Schiff personally or were there to support him. However, it didn't affect the debate as most people didn't cheer or boo or make any comments whatsoever, except for some occasional outbursts of laughter at clever comments made by both of the candidates.

Before the debate started the League of Women Voters greeted us both and gave us a rundown on the technical details about timing and responses to the questions. Another gentleman came out of the TV room to discuss the cameras and their angles.

When Joan Hardie got on camera and started introducing the debate on live TV, I have to admit being slightly nervous. It was my first televised debate and I didn't want to screw up.

Adam Schiff started doing something that I found a bit odd and terribly unnerving. He was staring right into the TV cameras and addressing the audience at home and on the internet. There was a flat screen on either side of us, so it ended up that his image was looking right back at me. It was a little bit creepy and immediately made me think of that "Heavens Gate" cult in San Diego where people committed suicide waiting for the "mother ship" to take them away from Earth. I was thinking... there are people right in front of us...who is he talking to, the mother ship?

His staring into the camera was unnerving, so I tried not to look at him during the debate. I kept my focus on reading the faces in the crowd. I also tried not to grimace or smirk or react to his comments. But I did slap my forehead when he started talking about Global Warming.

I feel that overall, Adam Schiff did a little bit better than I did. He has ten years experience as an elected official, and it showed in his performance. He had smooth answers filled with technical details. I stumbled a little bit when the questions got real policy-wonkish with legislation that I had not read or was not even aware of.

I clearly crushed him on answers about gay marriage, Citizens United and Global Warming. He got the best of me on a few other questions...most of them dealing with questions involving specific pieces of legislation that I was not familiar with. Twice I had to say that I was unfamiliar with what they were asking about. I really hated that. (Come on people...this is a debate!! Where are the questions about Libya and taxes!)

I clearly had the more quotable moments of the night, and got the biggest laugh of all when I talked about the depth and strength of my opposition to gay marriage taking me inside West Hollywood City Council chambers and telling them my positions.

"That didn't go over very well.." I quietly added near the end of the question, as the crowd burst into loud laughter.

My friends who came to support me said I did well, but I couldn't help but feel that the overly specific questions had robbed me of the chance to give broader answers on larger issues. Hopefully the next time I get into a debate, I will face more open-ended questions than I did last night.

I can't wait to watch the replay and I'm curious to find out which quotes the reporters are going to use in their media coverage of the event.

It certainly wasn't boring. Schiff and I disagreed on almost every subject.