Political Experts: Debate About More than Winner and Loser

By: Jessica Jaglois Email
By: Jessica Jaglois Email

October 20, 2010

Congressional candidates Tom Perriello and Robert Hurt are back on the campaign trail following Tuesday night's Fifth District debate at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville.

Voters who watched the debate in person, on CBS19 or on Newsplex.com have an opinion on who won; however experts from the University of Virginia Center for Politics say it's not that simple. They say it's more about how each side competes.

Neither Congressman Perriello nor State Senator Hurt committed a major gaffe Tuesday night, so neither politician looked bad, per se. However, Isaac Wood, of the Center for Politics, says what's telling is the strategy behind each campaign and how they approached the debate.

Wood says Hurt was on the offensive and Perriello came out in attack mode.

"Robert Hurt feels that he's in the lead, and so he's trying to run a solid race from here on out. Tom Perriello's side knows they're behind and it's going to be a close race, so they need to do all they can to shake up the race. I think that's why you saw him on the attack [Tuesday] night," said Wood.

Whether they won or lost Tuesday night's Charlottesville debate, Perriello and Hurt don't have much time to rest. Another televised debate, this one in the southern part of the Fifth District, is scheduled for Thursday evening.

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