The two contenders for the Ohio governorship, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican challenger John Kasich, will square off for their first debate on Tuesday in Columbus. The second and final debate will occur on October 7 in Toledo, about a month before the election. The format for each debate will see the candidates be questioned by panels of four newspaper reporters, and local television reporters will serve as the moderators. Each debate will last for an hour.
The “reporter question” format is pretty standard and, in my view, is too confining. I’d like to see the candidates spar a bit, but I suppose the format will allow some opportunity for give and take. In any event, viewers will have the chance to compare the candidates’ styles and see whether either of them makes one of those dreaded gaffes that always seem to be the focus of political debate coverage.
Both Strickland and Kasich are old pros, so you wouldn’t expect any blunders. The contrast in styles should be considerable, however. Strickland is a low-key, avuncular figure; Kasich comes across as more brash and outspoken. Who knows which style will be more appealing to voters in a state that has been rocked by a recession and the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs?