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Anderson held captive by consultants

Posted: September 18, 2012 - 11:03pm

It’s official: Lee Anderson’s staffers have decided he has more to gain from avoiding debates with John Barrow than he has to lose from being seen ducking them.

We suspected as much on the night of the runoff. Anderson’s posse surrounded him during his victory party, keeping reporters away from the eventual winner and allowing him to speak to the gathered supporters only when hustled out, kept on script and then whisked away.

It’s as if he’s been kidnapped by consultants in pinstripes.

Republicans for the past three years have loved beating up on President Obama for using a teleprompter during even the most mundane speeches. What are we to say about a candidate who won’t even speak?

In any event, what makes the professional handlers’ judgment official is the announcement Monday that Anderson won’t debate Democrat Barrow at the Atlanta Press Club. Earlier, his campaign had set up straw-men conditions for a debate with Barrow, but on Monday they just said, no, Anderson won’t attend.

No matter which side of the partisan fence you’re on, there’s only one conclusion: Barrow is willing to debate. Anderson isn’t. How does that make Anderson look anything but bad?

What’s worse, I seriously doubt the final decision not to speak was Anderson’s. After all, before all this, he typically was accused of talking too much. For example, he’s often been the subject of good-natured ribbing because of his windy introduction of his preacher in the Legislature last year.

When he stood at the Columbia County Justice Center in July to make comments during the memorial for Probate Judge Pat Hardaway, a couple of people joked that we didn’t have all day. But then Lee told a charming story about the late judge that resonated well with the audience.

He’s capable of doing the same thing with other audiences, but ducking debates gives the appearance that his handlers aren’t prepared for Anderson to speak without being given the questions, and the answers, in advance. Considering Anderson wants to go to Congress, where members don’t always have the option to get a script before making a decision, that seems a little scary.

Recently I made the point that partisan elections are about choosing a member of a team. Republicans will generally elect a Republican to support their team in Congress, while Democrats will choose a Democrat.

Columbia County reliably gives about 70 percent of its vote to the Republican team. Anderson’s camp likely takes that number for granted and knows Richmond County will be a loss, so they’ll focus on collecting a few votes at a time from the rural counties in the rest of the district.

That’s not necessarily a losing strategy. But someone who appears afraid to debate his opponent doesn’t look like a winner, either.

Anderson is scheduled to speak Saturday in the friendly confines of the Republican Party breakfast at 8:30 a.m. at Fatz Cafe. It should be worth $7.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/

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Comments (7)

Little Lamb

Atlanta Press Club

I'm having a hard time figuring out why the Atlanta Press Club has any dog in the fight for the 12th district seat. Is it just Democrats helping Democrats?

Little Lamb

Tea Party Express

Lee Anderson was the closing speaker at the Tea Party Express rally last Saturday at Fairway Square in Augusta. I seriously doubt that the Tea Party Express honchos ever checked out Anderson's voting record on taxes. If they had, they might have banned him.


CC and Gerogia deserve better representation.

We are trying goats at the Atlanta Airport to save money. We could save a lot more if we placed goats in the US House and Senate and let the votes be "Ney and Ney" on everything. Even the Bible suggest that the best answers are Yea and Nea.


This will in no way resemble Mr. Smith's

trip to Washington. How long will we fall for the "resale" that any Republican in a seat is better than a Democrat? Isaakson and Chambliss are classic examples of this theory.

Maybe when we realize that we already have a "one party system" ruling our nation. The Money Power Party.

Barry Paschal

Atlanta Press Club

LL, the Atlanta Press Club typically partners with Georgia Public Television to hold debates in all major races, including all of the congressional races in the state. They provide the venue and the panelists, while GPB broadcasts the debates statewide. It's a long-standing, well-respected partnership that gives far more exposure than just holding a local debate.


Anderson's problem is not

Anderson's problem is not that he can't speak - as stated in your article he can tell a nice story on a friend - the problem is his ability to talk on complex details or even have a basic grasp of things like the Federal Reserve


Lee Anderson

I can't believe the Republican voters of this district selected someone so inept as Lee Anderson. Any of the other three Republicans would have been better choices. All he knows how to say is "we're gonna send John Barrow home and defeat Obamacare!" Well, I want that too, but tell me what else you're going to do in Washington. He doesn't seem to be able to articulate it. If he can't express himself effectively here at home, how can he adequately represent me in the House of Representatives?