In the Firing Squad for Tonight’s AETN Governors Debate Among Mike Beebe, Jim Keet and Jim Lendall

AETN's video-heavy election page

AETN's video-heavy election page. Nicely done.

I’m among the panelists for today’s hour-long gubernatorial debate starring incumbent Mike Beebe (D), Jim Keet (R) and Jim Lendall (G). We tape the debate at 2 p.m. in Conway and it airs tonight at 8 p.m. on your local Arkansas Educational Television Network affiliate.

Also on tonight’s panel: Ron Breeding of NPR affiliate KUAR-FM and Bill Simmons of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I haven’t seen anyone’s questions except my own, but I expect hot topics to include jobs, the economy, health care and, more than likely, state vehicles.

Each panelist gets ask two questions, so expect six questions total, plus opening and closing statements from each of the candidates.

Today’s debate is part of a series of debates airing each weeknight this week on AETN stations as well as on KUAR. Also tonight: the Lt. Governors debate between Shane Broadway (D) and Mark Darr (R), airing at 7 p.m.. And on Wednesday, Arkansas Business Editor Gwen Moritz is on the panel for the U.S. Senate debate, and Publisher Jeff Hankins will be part of Friday’s Attorney General debate.

You can see the full schedule of this week’s debates at AETN’s Web site here.

And speaking of that site, kudos to AETN for a solid multimedia Web effort. In its excellent debates section, you can see videos of each of the debates and conversations with voters.

Update: You can watch the full debate here.


Making Online News Work in Small-town Arkansas

It’s happening. Someone people are doing it. We’ve noted the Fayetteville Flyer, Ozarks Unbound, the CityWire and others. And this week, Arkansas Business media writer Sam Eifling checks in with two other online-only news sites: the and,

which has received 1.7 million page views during the past year. Its growth tickles Joe Burgess, who has owned and run the site since October 2007.

After three years on, Burgess is convinced his style of coverage is sustainable, and here to remain as a competitor to the local paper (the Advance Monticellonian, in this case). “Convenience stores, instant coffee and faster information,” he says. “It’s all the same concept.

Right now, they’re small operations. But they’ve got the right idea: covering intensely local news intensely, offering readers news they can’t find anywhere else, even in the competing print paper.

Also teams with and to present a day of debates by candidates in local elections.

It’s … Happening … Again … Today’s Democratic #ARSenDebate Underway

The second #ARSenDebate, underway now. (Photo via @BillHalter)

It’s a day of debates. First, the Republicans, now the Democrats (again).

Again, watch these guys:

Andrew DeMillo, AP – @ademillo

John Lyon, Arkansas News Bureau – @johnlyon09

Dave Catanese, Politico – @davecatanese

Jason Tolbert – @TolbertReport

John Brummett – @johnbrummett

Jessica Dean, KATV – @jessicadean

And Blake Rutherford live-blogs here.

Update: The debate is over. DeMillo’s full AP story here. Jason Tolbert has epic Flipcam video, unfurling here.

Bill Halter on the Attack, Blanche Lincoln Holds Firm at #ARSenDebate

That (above) was the scene just before tonight’s Democratic U.S. Senate debate at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, carried live on KATV-TV, Channel 7; C-SPAN; KUAR-FM, 89.1; and

Blanche Lincoln supporters rallied for the TV cameras just minutes before the incumbent took the stage to face two challengers, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and businessman D.C. Morrison. One of them was entertaining!

The other two? Well, let’s just say there were few surprises, as Lincoln and Halter stuck mainly to their respective scripts. Lincoln: “One tough lady” who has cast the tough votes and worked hard for the working men and women of Arkansas, her allegiance to them higher than to her own party. Halter: The optimist who says Washington is broken, missing Arkansas values and besieged by special interests and politicians who are bought and paid for.

After the jump, some quick analysis and links to related coverage, including KATV video.

Continue reading

Tonight: Sarah Palin vs. Joe Biden in the Veep Debate

Happening tonight. While the debate party we attended last week was skewed toward Obamaniacs, tonight Laura and I will be hunkered down with some burgers and cheese dip at a watch party organized by McCain-Palin supporters. Should be fun.

Tomorrow morning around 6, I’m scheduled to be on “Today’s THV This Morning” with Charles Crowson to talk about the debate — some Friday-morning quarterbacking to take us into the weekend.

It goes without saying that this debate is the talk to the town, and might prove to be the ratings juggernaut that the Obama-McCain debate last week wasn’t. So what are they saying about Palin, Biden and tonight’s match-up?

Here goes …

From Arkansas

Key Palin accomplishments the media ignores [The Citizens Journal]

Working the ref: On Ifill and the debates [Arkansas Times]

Watch party at the West End! [Under the Dome]

The Sarah Palin Question

Women ex-governors divided on Palin [Politico]

Roger Simon: 10 Questions for Sarah Palin [Politico]

Past debates show Palin confident, fluent, vague [New York Times]

Palin at the debate: voters doubt her readiness [Associated Press]

Video: Palin’s greatest hits [Talking Points Memo]

The Joe Biden Factor

Biden is experienced in debates, but gets tripped up by spontaneity [New York Times]

Biden must stay in ‘comfort zone’ [Baltimore Sun]

Biden camp preps: gender not the issue [Washington Post]

Palin will use Biden’s own words against him [ABC News]

Biden has tendency to ‘talk forever,’ say ‘stupid’ things [The Weekly Standard]

The Debate

Politico’s Arena: How should Joe handle Sarah? How should Sarah handle Joe? What questions would you ask?

Does the veep race matter? Could affect the presidential race? [Politico]

Palin’s spin team: those on call for post-election spin [Hotline]

Watching a train wreck? Between Biden and Palin, the gaffes could pile up [Politico]

Veep candidates’ personalities fuel interest in debate [Hartford Courant]

Debate will test the mettle of Palin, Biden [San Francisco Chronicle]

Palin has to show understanding of issues; Biden has to connect [The New Republic]

The Moderator

Don’t blame Ifill if veep debate sucks [Slate]

Gwen Ifill’s impartiality questioned [Associated Press]

Ifill urged to step aside [Washington Times]

The Obamas: Portrait of an American Family [Essence]

McCain on Ifill: I wish they’d picked someone else [Politico via Huffington Post]


Idaho J-school Prof: Palin’s wrong about ethics [Portfolio]

Palin’s college daze: Why 5 colleges? [Slate]

Sarah Palin has nothing to lose tonight [Gawker]

Drinking game! [Wonkette]

McCain-Obama in Oxford: What They’re Saying

The one thing you can say about the debate: it happened. No real fireworks, no clear winner. In a draw, who gets the bump?

In Arkansas

Blake Rutherford’s Twitter, on the debate – “I think Obama discussion of strategy is a smart one. I just wonder it anyone is still watching.” (Debate wrap here: No one wins.)

Max Brantley – “My view: A functional tie …” Obama “too deferential,” McCain “grumpy.”

Arkansas Journal: Obama’s inexperience “front and center.”

Tim Griffin’s roundup


Washington Post: Video, analysis, transcript, more

Real Clear Politics: Video ClipsTranscriptPollsEditorials

Roger Simon, Politico: The Mac is back: “One of his strongest debate performances ever.”

George Will (video): Not a game-changer

Joe Klein, Time: Nothing here “that should change the current trajectory of the campaign.”

Byron York, The National Review: “Senator McCain is absolutely right …”

Wall Street Journal: “The difference are real …”

Slate: Tie goes to Obama

CNN: Both men beat expectation, but tie goes to Obama

David Gergen: No clear winner

Twitter: Everyone on the debate

Alassandra Stanley: A generational divide

Salon: No decisive slowdown

John J. Pitney, Jr., National Review: On appearances, McCain wins

Andrew Sullivan: Fox focus group gives it to Obama

Mark Halperin: Obama wins

Fact-checking the Debate Debate 1

John McCain Suspends Campaign, Wants to Delay Debates to Deal with Financial Crisis


Sen. John McCain said he will “suspend” his presidential campaign on Thursday and will return to Washington to focus on the unfolding economic crisis. In the meantime, he called for a delay in the presidential debate scheduled for Friday night in Mississippi. Sen. McCain also called on his Democratic rival Barack Obama to join him back in the capital. “It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the administration’s proposal. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time,” the Arizona senator said in statement issued by the campaign. “Tomorrow morning, I will suspend my campaign and return to Washington.”

More here. McCain full statement here.

First, I’ll note a a point from my blog post this morning on how the candidates, and their plans for dealing with the financial crisis, were being largely ignored as the business press focuses coverage on the parties who will actually craft a solution sometime this week. I noted that McCain, Obama and Joe Biden — all sitting U.S. Senators — weren’t likely to show up for a vote on the bailout this week, due to their campaign schedules and, of course, Friday’s scheduled debate.

This from the McCain campaign, of course, is might be a game changer.

Quick reaction from former Wonkette Ana Marie Cox, via Twitter, who says, “Suspending the campaign is classic McCain. It is also something he wouldn’t do if he were winning. Or at least he’d be stopped from doing it.”

(In case you were wondering.)

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, indicates it’s still inclined to debate. Politico notes that the two campaigns have been talking it over, working on a joint statement, since this morning. This statement, from the Obama campaign, notes who called whom:

“At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton in an email sent just minutes after McCain’s statement. “At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.”

And now the McCain campaign issues its account of those talks:

“Senator Obama phoned Senator McCain at 8:30 am this morning but did not reach him. The topic of Senator Obama’s call to Senator McCain was never discussed. “Senator McCain was meeting with economic advisers and talking to leaders in Congress throughout the day prior to calling Senator Obama. At 2:30 pm, Senator McCain phoned Senator Obama and expressed deep concern that the plan on the table would not pass as it currently stands. He asked Senator Obama to join him in returning to Washington to lead a bipartisan effort to solve this problem.”

UPDATE: Politico: Obama rebuffs proposal to go to Washington, skip debates:

“It’s my belief that this is exactly the time the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible with dealing with this mess,” he told reporters in Florida, where he has been prepping for Friday’s event. “What I think is important is that we don’t suddenly infuse Capitol Hill with presidential politics,” he said.

He also took a real shot at McCain: “Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time,” Obama said. “It’s not necessary for us to think that we can do only one thing, and suspend everything else.”

I can hear it now: “Barack Obama would rather lose the economy and win the election.” Hopefully, that’s not where this is going. Noted: Obama says, “it may be necessary for both of us to be present to send a strong message that we need something to be done.”

The Latest

Politico Arena: Quick Reaction [Politico]

Ben Smith: Only thing that’s changed for McCain in 48 hours is the polling [Politico]

McCain to Washington to Address Bailout [ABC]

McCain’s political ads to come down [CNN broadcast]

McCain cancels Letterman; Only 4 House Republicans support bailout [Drudge]

Irrelevant no longer: They can get it done [Market Watch]

Obama’s case for debating [WSJ]

Surprise. Huffington Post blasts McCain [Huffington Post]

Reaction, comments from the Arkansas Times blog [Arkansas Times]

From Steve Harrelson [Under the Dome]