Walker's refusal to answer questions creates doubt in the current governor's leadershipI could do an in-depth analysis, line-by-line, question-by-question look into who won the recall debate held tonight. Though it would be interesting to assess, it would miss the overall picture of who won the thing -- Tom Barrett or Scott Walker.
My take on the debate in its entirety is this: Walker started out strong. Barrett needed a couple minutes to catch his footing, but he eventually caught back up to Walker.
Well-before the halfway point, however, there was no question that the momentum had changed hands.
Tom Barrett won this debate, and he won it handily. He controlled its direction, bringing up legitimate questions about Walker's record that needed to be addressed. Yet, Scott Walker chose to avoid many of the questions Barrett brought up.
Case in point, the last section of the debate where the candidates were each allowed to ask other a question.
Walker differed the opportunity, perhaps trying to come off as more humble than his record paints him to be. Barrett took the chance to ask about Walker's out-of-state travels, and why he wouldn't release information on them to the public.
In his response, Walker talked about his more recent in-state travels, but neglected to mention whether he'd release information regarding his interstate adventures.
Barrett pointed out that Walker failed to answer the question -- and that's precisely the reason why Walker lost the debate, on this and many other questions he refused to discuss or avoided.
Barrett responded to criticism; Walker tried to change the course whenever it came up, failing to address issues adequately in doing so.
To be sure, both sides are claiming victory to their supporters tonight -- and if you look at it from a partisan point of view, both sides said exactly what their supporters wanted to hear. In this manner, both can reasonably say they "won" -- Walker stood his ground against Barrett using talking points familiar to his base; and Barrett brought up the legitimate points for why the recall was warranted.
There's no reason the right should be upset with Walker's performance. And the left probably feels a jolt of inspiration from the fighter they've wanted to see in Barrett. But when you look at the voters who have yet to decide whom they will support at this time, it seems clear that the guy who is willing to put in the work to restore Wisconsin won.
The guy who didn't want to talk about questions we all have about him, who wants us all to disregard our concerns and just "move on" already, lost.