Tim Russert Makes Democrat Tim Kaine's Day in Virginia Debate

September 14th, 2005 9:09 AM

The Washington Post reported today on the Virginia gubernatorial debate between Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine, noting how Kilgore "faltered under a series of questions by moderator Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press."

Russert asked Kilgore whether he would sign a bill to outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Kilgore called the question hypothetical. Russert followed up by asking if he would veto a tax hike. He said he would. "That's a hypothetical question!" Russert said, "prompting laughter from the luncheon crowd of more than 500 Northern Virginia business executives," the Post reports. The story then quotes poli-sci professor/pundit Larry Sabato: "Kilgore was nervous and tense. He sounded bad. He argued badly," said Sabato, who will moderate the last gubernatorial debate next month. "This was Kaine's best performance ever." The Post doesn't really note that Northern Virginia business executives in this crowd want higher taxes for better roads and better business for them.

You get a much different flavor in the Fredericksburg FreeLance-Star, where Sabato is quoted as saying: "This is Kaine's debate. It's Kaine's audience. It's probably Kaine's region," calling it "one of the most one-sided debates I've ever seen." He said Russert was "much tougher on Kilgore than on Kaine," but that he exposed internal contradictions by both candidates.

To see it on the local NBC affiliate last night, Russert looked more like a debater than a moderator, especially with all the crowd whooping against Kilgore. You would think the NBC folks would show a moment of Russert pressing the Democrat (he did ask Kaine why he won't work to stop the death penalty), but he apparently never flustered the Democrat. He made his day.