Debate and Switch

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The most significant thing that happened in the debate for the gubernatorial candidates did not happen during the debate. It happened afterward. The debate had taken place in a room with no audience. Reporters sat in a foyer at a building in the Belo/Dallas Morning News complex, where they could follow the proceedings on five large TV sets. When the debate was over, the various candidates trooped into the area where the media was located for ten minutes of Q and A: first Chris Bell, then Kinky, then Rick Perry . . . or at least that was the schedule. When his turn came, Perry was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a smirking aide showed up to claim victory and distribute a press handout that no one wanted. Shouts rang out: “Where’s the governor?” “Where’s Governor Perry?” State Senator Tommy Williams, I regret to say, participated in this charade by standing behind the podium as if to answer questions (except the answer to “Where’s Governor Perry?”) Smirking aide announced, “The governor had his say in the debate. This entire campaign is a debate. He will be debating for the next thirty days with the people of Texas.” At least we got a plug: “He sat down and talked with the editor of Texas Monthly.” The relish with which the Perry folks acted out their disdain for the media was ugly and arrogant–and a character sketch of their candidate.

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