In the Massachusetts Senate debate Wednesday, Republican Gabriel Gomez showed command, but Democratic Rep. Edward Markey stayed firm and revealed few cracks.
Although the two candidates running for John Kerry’s open Senate seat in Massachusetts spent much of their first debate Wednesday night extolling the virtues of bipartisan compromise, the two found little common ground themselves in either substance or style.
For an hour on the stage of WBZ-TV in Boston, Republican Gabriel Gomez’s punchy one-liners tangled with Democrat Edward Markey’s slowly-wound policy pitches as the two clashed over abortion, intervention in Syria, and the future of American health care.
In an off-year special election campaign that so far has been told largely in prescripted stump speeches and press conferences, the debate offered a rare glimpse into how the two men have thought through many of the most difficult political issues facing their campaigns.
That was especially important for Mr. Gomez, a politically untested businessman and former Navy SEAL, who has spent much of his time on the campaign trail just trying to introduce himself to voters.
“He needed to demonstrate that he belonged on that stage as a candidate for US Senate, and he certainly did that,” says Peter Ubertaccio, chair of the political science and international studies department at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.
Gomez commandingly explained his views on the flaws in the president’s health-care legislation, including what he called the “egregious” tax placed on manufacturers of medical devices – an industry that employs nearly 25,000 people in Massachusetts.