Tuesday night’s Senate debate in Topeka was a test of the stamina and dirt-digging ability of each campaign. As the first televised debate between the two established candidates, Tuesday’s event was a litmus test for each side’s ability to eloquently and concisely present their stances while debunking and denouncing the other’s actions. And The Sentinel was there, sitting right behind the cameras, to witness it all.
Tiahrt and Moran both came out swinging and throughout the debate continued to insert digs where they could. But it was the delivery of those quips that set the candidates apart. Tiahrt’s insults were sharp and frequent while Moran slid quips in but didn’t have quite the same aim.
It was obvious both campaigns had done their research on one another, pulling up votes and actions from as far back as 2003. There was little the candidates actually disagreed about so the small actions- such as Tiahrt’s claim that Moran was shooting a commercial while the House was trying to repeal Obamacare- were mentioned. The one surprise of the night was Tiahrt’s acknowledgement of his previous support for amnesty for children of immigrants. But, he said he had changed his thinking on the issue after listening to the opinions of the people of Kansas. The Moran campaign quickly jumped on the statement, sending out releases highlighting the mishap and playing off Tiahrt’s change of view.
The overall rhetoric and actions of each closely mirrored what we have seen thus far in the campaign. During the closing statements, Moran focused on his desire to represent the people, create a better tomorrow and continue his service. Tiahrt used his two minutes to repeat his earlier accusations and throw a few more digs Moran’s way. Fortunately, we were spared the personal, low-ball attacks that had made their way into campaign press releases and comments over the past few weeks.
Both candidate were nervous to begin with but Moran seemed to settle down a little quicker than his opponent. The greeting at the start of the debate was quick and cold and nothing was said between the two Congressmen during breaks for advertising. After the debate, reporters seem to flock to Moran, leaving Tiahrt with few questions to answer. But the Goddard Republican did have a host of fans outside the studio who campaigned on his behalf before and after the debate.