Political campaigns frustrate me, because so many candidates use rhetorical tricks to score points against opponents rather than simply telling voters what they bring to the table.
If you're citing facts selectively to give a false impression of your opponent, the fact that the particular facts cited are accurate does not mean it's okay.
If you don't want to answer a question, that's one thing, but if you claim the issue is a red herring you'd better be prepared to say why, because I've heard the term inaccurately applied.
If you want to evade an issue by saying "I think the real issue is" something else, be prepared for a questioner to remind you that she or he still asked the question and would like an answer.
In the gubernatorial race, Neil is going to have to start being more specific about how he'll fund his campaign promises, and Duke is going to have to defend the actions of the administration he was part of (or distance himself from them.)
These are fair things to press for and we journalists need to do that. Easy for me to say, my usual role is merely to relay questions emailed by the public, but still.
United Press International, the former news service rival to the Associated Press which still exists in vestigial form, was chronically underfunded and its bureau managers and staffers invented a number of ways to cover the news affordably. One of the best ideas, which came out of its Illinois bureaus, concerned campaign coverage, and was described to me by Bob Kieckhefer, a longtime UPI manager in that vicinity.
He said they would think up a question a day for candidates in a key campaign, send it to them, and transmit whatever their reply was. I can't remember if there was a maximum number of words, but I'm pretty sure the idea was to disseminate whatever they wrote back. Every day a different topic. It cost UPI nothing, but more importantly it gave the candidates a chance to be specific, in detail.
If I could start the election campaign all over, I would do that here.
For example, here are some questions for gubernatorial candidates:
- What is your position on civil unions? Do you distinguish between civil unions and same-sex marriage, and is there is any form of civil union bill that you would feel able to sign?
- How far are you prepared to go in a pledge of no new or higher taxes? Will you promise not to raise the excise tax?
- Do you feel the state government payroll has no room for trimming? If not, how far are you prepared to go to identify cost savings?
- How far are you prepared to go in supporting the Honolulu rail project? Do you think rail opponents have raised any valid criticisms?