If I were Sheheen, I’m not sure I’d WANT more debates

Just got this release from Vincent Sheheen’s campaign:

Sheheen Calls for Four Additional Debates
Democratic gubernatorial candidate confirms participation in both Post & Courier debates, works with Myrtle Beach Area Chamber to push for Grand Strand, Midlands, Aiken & Rock Hill as well.Sheheen crop
Camden, SC – Today, Sen. Vincent Sheheen called for open gubernatorial debates in the Grand Strand/Pee Dee, Midlands, Rock Hill, and Aiken areas after working with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to resolve their debate scheduling conflicts with the Charleston Post & Courier.
“Honest leadership means looking people in the eye and telling them what you’d do as governor — I can’t think of a more appropriate way to accomplish that than by debating in every region in the state,” said Sen. Vincent Sheheen. “The people of South Carolina deserve the opportunity to hear directly from their candidates for governor, there are plenty of days left until the election do the right thing. I urge my opponents to immediately agree to at least three more debates to cover all regions of the state.”
Last week, The Post and Courier announced their intention to hold a debate in Greenville on October 21st, a date previously requested by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and several of their local media partners. After conversations with the campaign, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has stated their willingness to find an alternative date for their proposed debate, and as such, Sen. Sheheen confirmed his participation in the Post and Courier/WLOS-TV/WMYA-TV debate in Greenville on October 21st.
“The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to holding an open forum for honest debate between all the candidates about how to build a stronger state economy,” said Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are willing to accommodate schedules, because voters deserve to hear directly from those who are running for the state’s highest office.”
Sen. Sheheen also urged all the other gubernatorial candidates to participate in at least four other debates – in Myrtle Beach, the Midlands, Rock Hill, and Aiken – to ensure that South Carolinians in all parts of the state have the opportunity to see and hear their gubernatorial candidates.

Yes, I know the Sheheen campaign needs a shot in the arm, but I’m not sure more debates give him that boost.

There’s one area in which Nikki Haley just walks all over Vincent Sheheen — public speaking. She almost always makes a good impression when standing before a group — while Sheheen underwhelms, and when he tries to ramp up his presence (which he’s been doing lately), it looks like he’s trying. She connects well with an audience. I’m not sure I’d want to give her more such opportunities, were I Vincent.

Maybe he doesn’t realize how much better she comes across, or how diffident and offhand he seems. or maybe he’s just willing to try anything at this point.

Frankly, I’ve always sort of doubted the value of debates, especially given how much emphasis we tend to place on them. Should a potential governor, or president, or legislator be judged on stage presence, like a beauty pageant contestant?

I’ve had extensive exposure over the years to both of these candidates, and I have no doubt that between the two, Sheheen is the policy heavyweight, not only in theory, but in terms of getting things done. As for the theory, here you can find video proof of his depth of understanding of issues. But while he’s the heavyweight, that’s also the way he comes across in front of a group — as heavy.

Whereas Nikki tends to dazzle. Until you stop and really analyze what she’s saying, and compare it to the reality that you know — assuming you know it, which is expecting a lot.

It took me awhile to get to that point with her — like, years. Voters aren’t going to get to that point in five debates.

10 thoughts on “If I were Sheheen, I’m not sure I’d WANT more debates

  1. Lynn T

    As I’ve spent time around the State House, one of the most striking things to me has been how hard it is for the public to get a realistic sense of what public officials are like when they are actually working. Some of the very best people in the General Assembly — and there are some exceptionally fine people there — don’t have the kind of charisma that comes across in a big public rally. And yet, year after year they do a great job for the people of South Carolina, putting up with a lot of nonsense to try to get something positive done. And yet, most of the publicity goes to the charismatic or the corrupt. Fortunately the folks back home keep sending some of the good folks back again. Whether the voters really understand that they are doing the right thing, or just recognize the candidate’s name, I’m glad that it happens.

  2. Harry Harris

    Debates are one means for a less-funded candidate to get messages across, even if filtered by media outlets. While gubernatorial debates are not widely viewed, they are widely reported, so there can be some “free” headlines quoting the main points of a candidate’s statements. They also offere the chance for some vetting or fact-checking of a candidate’s claims if the press has the gumption or willingness to do its job. The political ads that a well-funded candidate and his allied groups (thanks to the SCOTUS) can flood the air with seldom stand scrutiny and less often even have to. “Liberal, Union-funded Sheheen” is a straw man caricature that can be drenched into the uninformed electorate’s mind just as the misleading image of a Governor actively hiding a tax agency database can be trumpeted as “untrustworthy.” Let them go before the public and state their own cases on a microphone paid-for by a third party.

  3. scout

    Am I the only person who doesn’t respond to Nikki Haley’s apparent ability to come off well. Her stage presence has always rubbed me the wrong way. Something about her body language and phrasing has always made me not believe her. She comes off as completely fake and insincere to me – totally staged. I do agree Sheheen doesn’t usually present himself in a way that matches his depth of knowledge and skill ….which is frustrating, but I can listen to him compared to her and get that he knows whats he talking about more. I can’t really fault him for lack of stage presence because I would also be really bad at that.

    I guess I’m just wired differently.

    I wish we didn’t choose leaders based on stage presence, but that is what we seem to do.

    I’ve wondered before would some of our presidents, etc. who have been considered great, ever even have been elected if they had had to run in this type of environment where stage presence is ever present and constantly scrutinized.

    1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

      She bugs the crap out of me, but I have to acknowledge that she came off well when she spoke to Rotary a while back. I still cannot stand her, but I can see her appeal to voters.

  4. Ralph Hightower

    One of the things I find lame about Governot Haley is that she promises to reveal a plan to fix South Carolina’s crumbling highways and bridges after she is reelected as governor.
    What I hear is: “Trust me! I have a plan to fix the roads which I will figure out after I’m reelected and plan on doing nothing about.”

    No! That’s just a tease! Without a plan, there is no substance. Her promises don’t work with me.

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