Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s extremely long pause and stumbling beginning to her opening statement during Wednesday evening’s Arizona Governor’s debate was not only painful to watch, but it has given her detractors something upon which focus. The video has gone viral on YouTube and in political forums. For over ten seconds, the controversial Republican governor seemed tongue-tied, uncertain, even hesitant to venture into the night’s debate session. But given Jan Brewer’s popularity among Arizona voters, does a terrible start in a debate followed by a not-so-great performance overall hurt her in the long run?
According to a Rasmussen Poll released just the day before the incumbent Arizona governor took on her Democratic and Green Party gubernatorial opponents in Wednesday’s televised debate, Governor Jan Brewer enjoyed a 19 percent lead among Arizona voters. In fact, her popularity rating among Arizonans has gained ground since she signed the recent controversial immigration bill into law.
It is as yet unclear how her poor performance in Wednesday evening’s debate will affect her standing among the voters. It is also unclear as to whether or not she will participate in future debates. Democrat Terry Goddard originally challenged her to six.
The night did not go well at all for Governor Jan Brewer. After the stunning silence, which she should have filled with the customary thank-yous to the attendees, the moderators, and the providers of the venue, she continued to present uninspired answers and statements. And afterward, a reporter asked her about claims of beheadings in the Arizona desert (used to substantiate her argument for the immigration legislation), she acted as if she did not hear the question. When many of the reporters began clamoring for an answer, Brewer abruptly left.
But will Wednesday night’s terrible performance hurt the governor’s re-election chances? Although a possibility, because little things can kill a campaign (Michael Dukakis and his tank ride picture, George Allen and his “macaca moment”), it is doubtful that the popular governor will lose much ground in the polls in the near future due to the debate. Staying away from future debates would help her — examples of where silence is beneficial, as opposed to her debate opening silence, where it was simply embarrassing. She could also attempt a little self-deprecating humor about her failures to perform. Besides, she has time — two months until the election where people tend to forget or simply move on to the next political issue or non-issue — and a strong traditional conservative base in Arizona. If Jan Brewer’s debate performance hurts her, it probably won’t last long enough for Terry Goddard to enjoy it.
But if questions about strange and unsubstantiated tales of headless corpses in the Arizona desert keep popping up, not to mention questions about leadership in a rough economic climate, Governor Brewer might find herself in close race come Nobember.
The video of the Arizona Governor’s Debate and Jan Brewer’s excruciatingly uncomfortable silence follows.
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