There weren’t too many surprises in Saturday’s debate with Democrat Roy Barnes, Republican Nathan Deal and Libertarian John Monds. We started with a trio of questions about health care — the event was sponsored by the Medical Association of Georgia — but also touched on the economy, taxes, immigration, education and water (in which retiredds’s question about plans A, B and C made an appearance!) in what felt like a very short hour. I really appreciate all the questions y’all submitted, and I’ll incorporate more of them as I meet with the candidates during the rest of the campaign.
Moderating a debate leaves little time for thorough note-taking, so I’m trying to track down a transcript or copy of the video to confirm a few things I think I heard that may be of interest. In the meantime, I direct your attention to the following write-ups and video clips in case you missed it.
First, from the AJC’s Aaron Gould Sheinin:
Given the sponsor’s focus, the questions were dominated by health care matters. Barnes and Deal agreed on much, including the need to create incentives to attract primary care physicians to rural parts of the state. But they differed on many other topics.
On tort reform, Deal decried a state Supreme Court ruling in March that struck down limits on jury awards in medical malpractice cases created by a landmark 2005 state law. The former congressman said the state should amend its constitution to re-create the limits.
Voters, he said, “would overwhelmingly say yes because they understand the practical consequences of it.”
But Barnes said he was firmly against amending the constitution and said juries and judges should be trusted.
“Generally, the jury does the right thing,” Barnes said. “Occasionally, they get cranked up and don’t. And in those cases we give judges the right to correct that.”
Barnes said he also favors “cracking down on frivolous cases” through fines and awarding of attorneys fees to parties who are subject to such suits.
Monds’ view came closest to that of Barnes, although he said he wasn’t familiar with the Supreme Court ruling.
“In any instance that you can, the people should be trusted and given the ability to allow their judgment to prevail,” he said, “whether it’s in the voting process or in cases with these damages.”
Shannon McCaffrey of the Associated Press also noted the exchange about stem-cell research:
Barnes said that Deal would harm economic development in the state by moving to restrict embryonic stem cell research.
“I don’t oppose embryonic stem cell research,” Deal replied. “I oppose creating life for the purpose of taking that life.”
The Barnes camp fired back after the forum by listing several votes Deal had taken in Congress opposing the research.
Barnes hammered Deal again on the issue later in the forum saying that if the state moved to halt the creation of embryos for scientific research it would bring cutting edge embryonic stem cell research “to a screeching halt.” in the state.
“Are we going to be a modern state or are we going to go backward?” Barnes asked.
Deal said he backs the use of cord blood which he said could serve the same scientific end. He said the state should move to support research that is “scientifically appropriate as well as morally appropriate.”
Based on my conversations with, and emails from, the campaigns afterward, I don’t expect this issue to go away.
WXIA-TV (11 Alive) had a live stream of the event but its archived footage is limited. Here’s a report that focuses on education and immigration. (Note: I have been fiddling with the embed code for a while now and am just going to post this with the link for now…I’ll update with the video in the post if I can get it to work.)
I think it’s safe to say the real fireworks are yet to come.