Go elsewhere if you want blow by blow analysis of who won the two debates between Jim Webb and Sen. George Allen. But the bottom line is this: Neither had a major gaff, and Jim Webb, the guy many voters are just getting to know, came off as a credible alternative. You can imagine him as a U.S. senator.
That’s all he had to do in these early debates. Money will now be easier to raise, though he still has to ask at least for some of it.
Let’s face it: 90% of voters have already made up their minds. If they haven’t, then Allen is toast. The independent voters will begin to pay attention and see if Webb, whose early opposition to the Iraq War makes him prescient at best — and a helluva lot of smarter than the Bush administration idiots at worst, has the total package to unseat Allen. In fact, on foreign policy and military issues he came across as more informed than Allen.
The biggest challenge Webb has in the near term is to hold moderate women, who may be turned off by his views on women in the military. Someone needs to tell him to stop smirking when he answers that question and to simply say (assuming I can divine his position from his parsed answer), “In hindsight, I was wrong to be so dismissive of women in combat. I remain concerned about women on the front lines, but there are important roles for women in the military” and then conclude with what he did as Sec. of the Navy and remind voters of Allen’s opposition to women at VMI.
But in the end, the debates made Webb more credible than ever.