Today, it was made quite clear why Steve Daines has sought to desperately to avoid debating democrat Amanda Curtis in the U.S. Senate race. Tonight’s debate was Daines’ to lose. And he did.
Daines’ strategy throughout the campaign (and indeed throughout his tenure as a member of Congress) has been to try to hide his true views, beliefs, and acts from Montana voters–all while voting as Montana’s most extreme-right member of Congress in state history. But tonight, Amanda Curtis made sure the TEA Party congressman had to answer for some of his ideological oddities–and his actual voting record–and it was quite a treat to watch.
Daines looked visibly shaken several times after he tried to answer a question, only to have Curtis, a high school math teacher and popular state legislator, point out how his voting record contradicted his claims. Daines has never had an opponent go toe to toe with him before, and he was clearly not comfortable being called out for his true views.
Take, for example, the statement Daines made in answer to Dennison’s question about how banning abortion served the people of Montana. Daines tried to say he supports access to birth control, but Curtis pointed out that Daines actually voted to ban it. In response, Daines awkwardly muttered something about how he hopes his daughter has access to birth control “some day.” I guess he means some day after he is no longer in Congress. It was a very strange moment in the debate.
Obviously the new GOP thing is for their candidates to try to hide their anti-birth control history and message – clearly they’ve realized they can’t win otherwise. Daines tried to make us believe he supported birth control, but he couldn’t quite pull it off.
Even if he hadn’t flubbed the question tonight, women are figuring out that that Daines has made repeated attempts to take away our rights as women to make our own healthcare decisions, outlaw birth control, eliminate prevention efforts and authorize the IRS to audit rape victims. In the past, Daines has also tried to claim that he supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but of course what he does not mention is that he voted against funding the same domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs he touts.
Another golden moment in the debate came when Curtis pointed out that we need a better representative in the Senate than someone who throws tantrums with the whole government shutdown and ACA repeal idiocy. Surprisingly, Daines refused to say he wouldn’t vote to shutdown the government again – even after being asked the question twice. Even after it was pointed out by Curtis that Daines refused to say he wouldn’t shut down the government again.
I was surprised that the TEA Party Congressman ran from his own anti-Affordable Care Act votes – claiming he hadn’t voted for 40 of the 50 some ACA repeal measures the U.S. house passed. Daines said he only voted for repeal once. Which is easily disproven. Daines himself has bragged about his repeal votes in his press releases and public statements, but I guess he forgot about that – or hopes we did. Curtis didn’t.
It’s interesting also to see how defensive Daines was on the GOP boondoggle conceived by TEA Party GOP vice-Chair Jennifer Fielder and TEA Party Rep. Kerry White - the public land grab scheme they passed unanimously at the GOP convention. The GOP legislators’ proposal was so unpopular that it must have started to hurt their federal candidates in the polls, because now we see both Zinke and Daines running from an idea they both have publicly supported.
Perhaps it was Zinke and Daines who convinced the TEA party imbeciles in the Montana legislature to nix their own proposal to try to cauterize the wound they inflicted on their own party.
Amanda Curtis and John Lewis have both been successful in putting their opponents on defense simply by shining a light on what they really stand for. And this strategy I suspect will continue to close the ever narrowing gap in the polls.