The second televised debate between Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy and his Republican challenger Tom Foley showed distinctly different styles as they addressed everything from the economy to education to marijuana use at the forum held at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford. Malloy seemed like he was giving a political speech each time he answered a question while Foley was content to offer platitudes in a reserved, almost humble manner.
Moderator Dennis House of WFSB-TV (Channel 3) kept the debate flowing and informative. Foley often returned to his campaign theme that Malloy was leading the state in the wrong direction and that voters had lost confidence in him. He pointed to slow economic growth.
Malloy missed several opportunities to be more aggressive and call Foley out on several topics. For instance, Foley is proposing tax cuts (a .5 percent reduction in the state sales tax and a cut in the car tax) and getting spending “under control.” He has already pledged not to reopen collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions. So, with a deficit of up to $2.8 billion looming, how does that add up? Where is Foley going to cut to pay for all this? Malloy didn’t ask; didn’t bring up Foley’s “Wisconsin moment” comment or point out that in 2010, Foley pledged to eliminate a $3.5 billion deficit without tax increases. How would that work?
On gun control, Malloy stated the obvious—that he wouldn’t repeal the post-Sandy Hook legislation that he signed. But he left Foley off the hook by not pointing out that Foley would repeal it. And that he sought and received the endorsement of a far-right gun rights group.
Malloy was strong on the topic of education stating that he has the endorsements of the two largest teachers unions, two groups that say Foley’s plan to let parents abandon underperforming schools would be a disaster. Instead, Malloy defended offering those schools help through the Commissioner’s Network.
A major point of contention on which Malloy came out on top was the incentives United Technologies (UTC) received from the state. Malloy convincingly claimed his administration potentially saved 26,000 jobs put UTC in a position to create more. Foley claimed the state aid did nothing to create jobs. Malloy countered that Foley’s own businesses have received incentives. “You can’t have it both ways,” the governor said.
Malloy played the “wealth card” several times, pointing out that Foley paid no taxes to the state or federal government in 2011 and 2012 despite being a multimillionaire with a mansion and a yacht. Foley countered that Malloy made more money that he did in those years. “Congratulations,” Foley said.
In talking about plans to help the big cities in Connecticut, Malloy could have pointed out that Foley’s plan wasn’t even his own. It was largely lifted—word for word—from other sources. He let that go as well.
Overall, it was evident that Foley was the more relaxed candidate who—just like his campaign overall—failed to offer specifics, relying instead on generalities and criticism of Malloy.
Malloy seemed to be making a strident speech when he answered any question, repeating, “Let me be very clear” and “I am proud…” over and over.
The two candidates meet again Thursday at 7 p.m. at UConn in a forum sponsored by the Harford Courant and FOX Connecticut TV.