For no other reason than sheer curiosity, I spent last night at WFAA studios for the taping of The Belo Debate featuring Republican gubernatorial primary candidates Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina. I just had to know why dozens of journalists would pack themselves into a storage room to watch an event on television that, of course, they could watch on television anywhere and report the exact same story.
The possible upside to being in attendance? Catching the post-debate press conference. But, as had been the case after the first debate, Perry and Hutchison balked at facing the press (Perry announced early that he was out; Hutchison considered it before ultimately declining), while Medina made a statement, took a few questions and left. So while I still try to figure out why everyone didn't just watch it from the comfort of their homes, here are my top 10 observations, a concept admittedly stolen from Richie over at the Sportatorium.
10. This is likely the last debate between these three until the March 2 primary, and Belo decides that relevant questions include naming the first governor of Texas (which Hutchison flubbed, guessing "Burleson," while no Texas governor had that name) and estimating the average annual salary for a teacher (which Medina nailed, guessing $46,000, only $179 off the mark). Even the editorial board at The Dallas Morning News had issues with what they referred to as "Double Jeopardy" questioning. These are not questions that matter to voters, and the exercise amounted to a total waste of time.
9. Will Perry stay for all four years if he's reelected? Will Hutchison really leave the Senate no matter what happens in the primary? Again, these aren't issues germane to the race! Of course, Perry is going to say he's going to serve all four years as governor if he's reelected. And, of course, Hutchison will maintain that she's leaving the Senate no matter what -- she'd be contradicting her previous stance if she said anything else. But does anyone seriously believe that Hutchison is ready to end her political career if she loses? And does anyone think Perry would balk at a presidential run in 2012 if the opportunity presented itself?