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Tim Skubick: Snyder, Schauer engage in artificial debate

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LANSING, Mich. (WJBK) -

"Will you debate Mark Schauer?"

The governor smiled and said "at some point" but now is not the point.  "That's premature."

He's right, of course, but without knowing it the two political opponents had an artificial debate the other day on a variety of topics albeit at a distance and in separate interviews.

They were about 15 miles apart. The incumbent made a stopover in Lansing to reveal he's running again and to try out his new mantle as the "Comeback Kid."  (Bill Clinton eat your heart out.)

And from his Spartan campaign headquarters in West Lansing, Mr. Schauer chatted first about the Super Bowl ad.

"It was strange," he smiled.

It was obviously a reference to that quirky opening segment where the governor pops up in some pool, takes off his underwater mask and mugs for the camera with a very nerdy grin.

You didn't like the water shot? Mr. Schauer was asked.  Now he's laughing before going into attack mode.

"We don't need more happy talk and slick Super Bowl ads.  What we need are policies that actually work.  That's why we need a new governor.  The governor's been wrong from the start."

"I thought it was kinda neat," the Comeback Kid reflects on the ad that cost him a bundle. "It got people's attention and they're talking about the ad" and even though the spot aired in one market long after the outcome of the lousy game had been decided, the campaign indicates the ratings for the commercial were still good.

In other words to borrow a phrase, "Mission Accomplished" although some editorial types are beating up the governor for the underwater sequence and one wag dubbed him, "Aquaman."

In more substantive banter Mr. Schauer contends the governor cut education and his proposed 3% boost in the K-12 budget is "several years late and more than a few dollars short in putting money into education."

Here's the retort and the debate is on.

"I think they missed the billion dollars plus we added over the last three years," the governor recalls as the he-said, he-said reduction numbers game ramps up.

This next exchange is very revealing.  It has all the earmarks of some consultant whispering in the candidate's ear.  Campaigns are notorious for test marketing this phrase and that to determine if voters like it. Which may be why Mr. Schauer used this lingo five times in an eleven minutes interview.

"The governor is out of touch," he repeated, repeated and repeated for the cameras as if warming up for a real debate somewhere down the road.

The phrase is code for: The governor has no clue how the middle class is suffering which is the point Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson asserts obviously having heard the same consultant's whisper.

"The governor thinks if you take care of the wealthy and well-connected, it will trickle down and the only thing we've seen trickle down are the bills" to pay for business tax relief and cuts to education, he argues.

Retort?

Of course and here the governor is matter of fact as he shrugs his shoulders, ""I'm not surprised at a career politician making comments like that."  And then to the assertion that he's out of touch he counters, "I am in touch."

The long-distance debate also revealed they also disagree on who triggered the state's economic recovery.  The governor says his policies created the environment to grow jobs while the Democrat pats President Obama on the head for saving GM and Chrylser.

Obviously the two agree on very little which is the story line for the next 269 odd days before you get to see a real debate and hopefully more than just one which was the case three years ago.

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