IN THE NEWS: Indiana pundits agree: Joe Donnelly triumphed over Rep. Braun at last week’s first Senate debate


INDIANAPOLIS – The opinion of Hoosier political commentators this weekend was decisive: Joe Donnelly was the winner – and Rep. Braun the loser – of last Monday’s first Senate debate. Whether it was landing the lines of the night, aggressively taking the debate to Rep. Braun, or having the debate be defined on the friendly turf of health care, Hoosier Sunday shows and commentators found positive after positive for Joe’s performance.

Meanwhile, as Importantville noted today, Rep. Braun went from calling for more debates to downplaying their importance on Thursday, a clear reminder that he was “widely seen as the loser of the first debate.”

From Importantville: Braun was widely seen as the loser of the first debate

Braun was widely seen as the loser of the first debate. At an event with former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) on Thursday, he seemed to downplay the importance of the first debate, explaining that it was only one of two—and that he asked for four debates.

From Howey Politics IndianaDonnelly and the Braun campaign divide

Then came their first debate, and Donnelly came out swinging. He proclaimed his “decisive vote” on Obamacare and against its repeal in 2017. He explained his vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh by saying that his vote for Justice Neil Gorsuch came due to his temperament and impartiality, something Kavanaugh acknowledged he lacked during a Wall Street Journal op-ed article published last Thursday. “Mike was for Judge Kavanaugh on the first day,” Donnelly said at the onset of the debate. “If President Trump put up Bugs Bunny, Mike would put him on the court.” That was the most memorable line of the debate. Braun didn’t register on that front. …

Donnelly swung away at Braun over the Pentagon budget and pay increases for the military, and defended his vote against tax reform by saying that Hoosier kids and grandkids will be paying off the $2 trillion deficits in coming generations. When it came to Donnelly’s bulwark issue – the Republican attack on health coverage for those with pre-existing medical conditions – the two became fully engaged.

“I stand proudly before you. I was the deciding vote that saved coverage for pre-existing conditions. And Mike, I can hardly believe you stand here and say you’re for pre-existing conditions (coverage).” Donnelly cited Texas v. United States, a lawsuit supported by many congressional Republicans, turning to Braun and saying, “You support it. Say here tonight you denounce it.” Braun: “You can see he got riled up.” Donnelly: “You’re darn right I did.” Braun wouldn’t denounce…

When the dust had settled on the stage, for a second time Braun ducked the postdebate press conference, as he did prior to the primary. “We’ll let the debate speak for itself,” said campaign manager/spokesman Joshua Kelley. And in this setting, Donnelly was only too happy to oblige. He used Braun’s forfeited post-debate 10 minutes and talked for 21 minutes and 28 seconds. The incumbent used Braun’s void to impress and massage the coverage and narrative.

From Indiana Week in Review: Indiana Senate Candidates First Debate

Lara Beck: He is making the case to Hoosiers of why he should be hired again. And so he is not going to let Mike Braun’s tired talking points, all of which Mike went through that can all be easily refuted. He is not going to let him get in an edge on that.

So what you’re seeing is someone who’s a fighter and he’s going to stand up and he’s going to say to him, ‘look, you want to say this but here’s what I did on this. Here’s what I did here, here’s what I did here.’ And so the whole way through he had a very articulate and thoughtful, smart rebuttal for every single point that Mike Braun took him on. And I think that’s what Hoosiers want when they elect someone to go to Washington. They want (Joe) fighting for him. They don’t want someone walking around the halls in their blue shirt.

From the South Bend TribuneIs Joe Donnelly’s blue shirt ad a good fit?

One of the most effective campaign strategies is to take a positive part of the opponent’s image and turn it into a negative.

Donnelly picked up the theme in the first debate, telling his opponent: “Mike, you need to do more than take your tie off to gain the trust of the people of Indiana.”



Let’s elect more Hoosier Democrats
We can't sit this one out.