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Chris Wallace’s Biased Questions For Paul v. Conway Debate

Reported by Ellen - October 4, 2010 -

Chris Wallace moderated a debate between Kentucky senate candidates Rand Paul and Jack Conway yesterday (10/3/10) on Fox News Sunday. If you didn’t know already, you could have guessed from the questions - and the questions not asked - which one was the Democrat and which one the Republican.

Here are Wallace’s questions:

Wallace asked each candidate essentially the same question to start: Lay out what you think is at stake in this race. What is the choice for Kentucky voters?

Paul got the first question and he got the last word at the end with the closing statements.

Wallace followed up by saying, “Attorney General, Conway, you have even gone further than that. On the campaign trail, you have called Dr. Paul ‘crazy.’ Your campaign ads call him ‘out of touch.’ Why?

OK, so Wallace gave Conway an opportunity to reiterate his attacks even if the question painted Conway as a bit outre.. But Wallace practically pushed Paul into attacking Conway for the first time. Wallace said, “Dr. Paul, quite frankly, you say very little about Attorney General Conway on the campaign trail. You say nothing about him in your ads. Now’s your chance, Sir.”

The next round of questions was fair enough.

Wallace said to Conway, “You say… that you would have voted for the stimulus, you would have voted for TARP’s $700 billion for Wall Street and you would have voted for Obama’s health care reform. So if you had been in the Senate the last two years, you would have supported most of President Obama’s agenda.” To Paul, Wallace said, “You say you would have voted against the stimulus. Kentucky has received $2.9 billion, almost three billion dollars in stimulus funds… According to… the government, 17,000 jobs were saved or created. What are you saying to those people, fend for yourselves?”

Wallace asked Paul, “You say that you believe that government should stay out of the private sector… Is there no role for government in protecting our environment and making our workplace safer?”But a truly tough question would have been to ask Paul what regulations, if any, he supports and/or whether he'd work to repeal any such laws already on the books.

In his response, Conway said he’s against cap and trade, “always has been.”

“No, that’s not true,” Wallace argued, saying that Conway had flip-flopped on it. There was some discussion about that and about mining regulations. Wallace challenged Conway’s record several times without noting that Paul has none.

Next, Wallace asked Conway about “What I believe is a change in your position on the Bush tax cuts.”

Wallace began his next question for Paul with some props. “You have at least been consistent that you said you wanted to extend all the Bush tax cuts. But that would add $4 trillion dollars to the deficit… If you’re so concerned about the national debt, how are you going to pay for a $4 trillion loss of revenue?” Wallace did challenge Paul when he said he’d offset the loss with spending cuts. “There’s no way you’re going to get $4 trillion in spending cuts,” Wallace said.

The next few questions were unobjectionable. Wallace asked both, “If you want to get serious… about the national debt, you have to do something about entitlements… Tell me of a single benefit you would reduce, any eligibility you would change, a tax you would increase on either Social Security or Medicare to deal with the entitlement crisis.”

Wallace pretty much allowed Conway to avoid answering, other than to say he’d combat Medicare fraud, allow Medicare to negotiate with Pharma for lower prices, end “offshore tax loopholes” and look to a “bipartisan debt commission to come back with recommendations.”

Paul was asked to explain how the more than 600,000 people in Kentucky without insurance would get coverage. Wallace also rebutted Paul’s allegation that illegal immigrants are eligible for coverage under the Obama plan - though Paul's counter was allowed to stand.

Wallace asked Conway to explain his support for Obama’s health care reform now that premiums and other costs are expected to go up $300 billion over the next decade. I'll rate the health care round fair enough.

Then Wallace brought up illegal drugs. He put up a quote of Paul saying, “I don’t think it’s a real pressing issue” and asked if he would shut down a federal drug program and/or accept federal drug enforcment money.

Wallace asked Conway a tougher question. “When you campaigned for Attorney General, you said you would set up a drug task force. It took you a year and a half to do that… According to our statistics, the number of meth labs in the state increased during that time, on your watch, 60%.”

Finally, Wallace asked each to give his view on what his role as Senator would be. But first, he set up Conway as some kind of ultra leftie. “Attorney General Conway, you have signed the policy platforms of MoveOn.org and the liberal website DailyKos supporting union card check, repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and saying you’re ‘open’ to a government-run plan for health care, the so-called public option. Fair to say that you would… actually be to the left of President Obama? …Would you support Harry Reid for Senate Democratic Leader?”

That would have been a fair time – if not earlier – to bring up some of the truly extreme things Paul has said, such as suggesting opposition to the Civil Rights Act, accusing President Obama of being un-American for criticizing BP and wanting to abolish the Department of Education. But Wallace never brought up any of those embarrassing-for-Paul moments despite obviously trying to embarrass Conway. Wallace’s last question to Paul was, “Dr. Paul, you talk about helping to start a Tea Party Caucus in the Senate. Fair to say that you would line up to the right of most Senate Republicans and, to clear up some confusion with your answers over the course of the campaign, would you support Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell for Senate Republican leader?”

Paul got the last word in the closing statements, too.

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