After a summer of spending millions to attack and fact check each other in TV commercials, the three leading Democrats running for governor took the opportunity to do so once more at their last debate before the primary.
“My campaign alone has created more jobs in Rhode Island than Narragansett Beer,” Clay Pell quipped of Gina Raimondo’s pseudo-claim in a TV ad that her venture capital investment in Narragansett Brewery helped create more than 1,000 jobs in Rhode Island.
This was the line of the night. But a close second was when moderator Tim White pushed back about Pell’s talking point about not taking any money from lobbyists or PACs. White pointed out that Pell is independently wealthy and that several high level NEARI employees are volunteering their time for him. Rarely does a debate moderator win applause, but this was a question begging to be asked that was unlikely to be addressed by any candidate.
The big lie of the evening came courtesy of Raimondo when she was accused of standing with Wall Street. She replied, “I’m from Smithfield, I’ve never worked on Wall Street.” Wall Street, of course, in this context, is not a physical address.
Angel Taveras’ watershed moment may have been when he asked the TV camera “would you hire someone who has had nine jobs in eight years?” He spent much of the debate on the attack against both Pell and Raimondo, but did not – notably – dispute Pell’s claim to be the “progressive Democrat” in the race.
The surprise of the evening, for me, was that all three pledged to support the primary winner. It may be a good exercise for all Democrats to spend a few minutes each day until the primary envisioning their preferred candidate campaigning for the others, and vice versa.