In the first debate between Governor Jerry Brown and GOP challenger Neil Kashkari, Californians saw exactly why the 76-year-old Brown refuses to submit to a second debate. Kashkari, a business man and political neophyte, relentlessly hammered his career politician opponent on jobs and education leaving Brown appearing old, slow and unresponsive.
The performance was so one-sided even political analysts and the Left-wing San Jose Mercury News called it for Kashkari, easily:
Two veteran political analysts said they thought Kashkari won the debate.
"His answers were crisper and more direct," said Jack Pitney, a political science and government professor at Claremont McKenna College. "And he stayed on focus. He kept bringing the debate around to the topics he wanted to talk about, which were jobs and education."
Bill Whalen, a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, said "the governor was not knocked down," but agreed that Kashkari did better in terms of style and points.
"He was more coherent than the governor," Whalen said. "More times than not, the governor went off into Jerry Brown mode where he was not answering the questions."
Kaskari pointed out the dismal four-year record of the Governor regarding jobs, education and poverty and mocked Brown for pitiful legislation like plastic bag bans and a recent law allowing restaurant patrons to bring their dogs to establishments. "The time for incrementalism has long since passed, governor," Kashkari said. "We actually need bold reforms to rebuild the middle class. Plastic bags isn't going to do it."
He also pledged to end the high-priced, unpopular high-speed rail project that Brown has championed. "He's raising your gas prices to fund his vanity project, the high-speed train. What I call the crazy train."
When asked after the debate if he will agree to participate in another exchange of issues and ideas with his challenger before election day, Brown said, "I think we've exposed the differences."