It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of interesting political debates in Colorado. So tonight's CD-5 Republican throw-down between Rep. Doug "The Brain" Lamborn and Bentley "That Military Guy" Rayburn seemed like an ideal debate opportunity to break out the old live-blogging machine.
And then we forgot about it…almost. The debate has just ended, but without revealing the winner, Colorado Pols will go back to the tape for the Not-Really-Live Blog Replay!!!
*NOTE: Just like a regular live blog, we're posting the most recent update at the top of the page. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time.
Overall impression: Without seeing the final rebuttals and closing statements, it's hard not to call this a draw. Lamborn definitely comes across as a dim bulb at times, but Rayburn seemed lost for much of the debate and failed to take advantage of some great opportunities to distinguish himself. Still, it's easy to see from this debate why Lamborn usually has a Republican Primary despite being so conservative — he's just not very good at what he does, and it shows.
Each candidate gets to ask the other one question.
Lamborn: Brings up plagiarism. Seriously? Off all the issues you could bring up, you go after a plagiarism charge that is really old news?
[The video just crapped out -- we'll try to get back to this part as soon as we can]
It appears as though we are nearing the end, finally. Time for rebuttals.
Lamborn: Mad that Rayburn said he didn't do anything to help Rep. Mike Coffman. Says Coffman wrote him a "$2,000 check from his own bank account." Fine, but did it say, "Do not deposit until 2015?"
Rayburn: CD-5 needs to do more than rely on military and government for good jobs. This is an interesting approach in a Republican Primary, but it might be a good gamble.
Personhood, Gay Marriage, or Voting Rights: Which issue do you wish would go away?
Rayburn: "The gay lifestyle is being pressured and pushed on all of us." And, we just took a right turn back to 1992.
Rayburn says life begins at conception.
Lamborn: All of these issues should be debated. "I don't want any of them to go away." Lamborn brings up Roe v. Wade, calling it a bad decision. Lamborn says life begins at conception, and he opposes gay marriage. "I don't understand the thing about voting rights." Very eloquent, Congressman.
Is Marijuana decriminalization a state's rights issue?
Lamborn: Says he opposed medical marijuana when he was in legislature that was funded by George Soros? Whaaa?
Rayburn: It was bad public policy, and Lamborn never really weighed in on the issue. But says there is great potential with medical marijuana. Then says marijuana is a dangerous drug that will harm thousands of people. All in all, that made no sense at all.
For Rayburn: Why did you break promise to withdraw from race in 2008 if Jeff Crank got more delegates, and why do you say you grew up in Colorado when you didn't.
Rayburn: Says agreement with Crank was untrue because poll was wrong, or something. Then says "home is where the heart is," and he's lived here more than anywhere else.
Lamborn: Again brings up 50% increase in active military in Colorado Springs. Then reads endorsement letter from Jeff Crank. Holy crap, is this getting boring.
Question for Lamborn: In your four terms in Congress, what have you accomplished? Great question. $10 bucks says he blames Obama for something in the first 15 seconds.
Lamborn: "Protecting the military missions here in the fifth Congressional district I think is pretty important." Said the guy who has unwittingly reads aloud from classified documents. Says military presence in El Paso County has increased 50% since he was elected in 2006, as though Lamborn had anything to do with that whatsoever.
Rayburn: Brings up Pinon Canyon, says Fort Carson won't likely get more soldiers from bases that are closed because they don't have the training space. Says Air Force Academy gets funding cut year after year. Really good responses.
What size should our standing military forces be?
Rayburn: The size we need to fight our nation's wars. We go through a very complex way of determining the size needed, and then we have to back it up with Congressional funding. Sequestration and Congress deciding what should be funded is too simplistic. Says Congress sends military things they don't want or need because of lobbyists. "When I watch a House Armed Services Committee hearing, I see very, very few people who actually know what they're talking about." Good line.
Lamborn: "Let's talk about who doesn't know what they are talking about." Uh, oh, Doug. The next 30 seconds is a bunch of bureaucratic gobbledygook and blaming Obama for sequestration and cutting military. You know, because the President votes for the budget and all.
First question from Twitter: Do you support targeting terrorists outside official theaters of combat?
Gee, wonder which campaign wrote that question?
Lamborn: Confused as all hell by this one. Rambling about terrorism and freedom and preventing attacks. Starts talking about drones and UAVs. Lamborn should really just stop talking.
Rayburn: "Technology does not determine morality." Nicely said. Talks about his experience in combat operations. Rayburn should do more of this rather than try to play down to Lamborn's "strengths."
What would you do to replace Obamacare?
Rayburn: I would replace it with a free-market plan. Yeah, sure, just like that.
Lamborn: I am on record as supporting alternatives to Obamacare. Starts talking about using economies of scale and purchasing power. You mean, like a national economy of scale? Lamborn says there are a few winners, but mostly losers in Obamacare.
For Lamborn: What will you do about Climate Change?
Lamborn: I believe in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that includes coal and nuclear. Disagrees that we should get rid of coal because it is cheap and available. Yeah, and so is asbestos.
Rayburn: Climate Change is being pushed on people, hurts people, etc. "The first thing we should do is build the Keystone Pipeline." Says he has talked to City Council about ways that nuclear power can be used locally in small modular reactors. No idea what that means, but it sounds not so safe.
Lamborn rattles off a bunch of endorsements. Asks Rayburn to point to a vote that was not conservative.
Rayburn: Brings up some kind of sugar beet amendment.
Lamborn: "I would put my record against anyone else's in Congress. I am one of the most conservative Members of Congress there is."
Question for Rayburn: Why did you steal a speech from John Bolton instead of giving your own speech at some event? Apparently we're getting deep into details here.
Rayburn: Says it happened in 2008, that he has apologized for it repeatedly, and that it was inadvertent. Then says Lamborn's website has inaccurate rankings of his conservative record.
Questions from audience and social media. First question for Lamborn: how do you explain only attending 1 of 15 House Veteran Affairs Committee meetings.
Lamborn: That's a dishonest statistic, and I don't know where it came from. Says Congressional records only show whether you are there at the beginning of the meeting, and doesn't mark if you came in later.
Rayburn: Says Lamborn is on The Board of Visitors at the Air Force Academy, and it is well known that Lamborn does not attend many meetings. Says Jared Polis makes a great effort to make meetings, and that Polis has much more influence with the Academy as a result. Says National Journal only ranks Lamborn as 87th most Conservative Member of Congress today.
Apparently each candidate gets 90 seconds for a rebuttal of whatever their opponent said.
Rayburn: Challenges Lamborn's claim that Rayburn and his family aren't involved in the pro-life issue.
Lamborn: "I think you've been AWOL." Says his pro-life record is second to none, and that he walks the walk.
Kelly Furta: Question about role of Congress in birth control.
Lamborn: Offers some rambling response about how Obama promised somebody that he would do an Executive Order to prevent restrictions of abortions, or something, if Obamacare passed. No idea what he's talking about here. Says he opposes contraceptions that end in abortions. Clearly Lamborn does not understand the word "contraception."
Rayburn: Some generic pro-life statement. Then asks why his grandson can't get a job in Colorado Springs, and these are the issues they should be talking about. Um-kay.
Kari Simmonsson (?) of the Springs Independent: Is it wise for the House to ignore the military's advice to act on Climate Change?
Rayburn: Not a good idea. Climate Change is real. Then talks about getting the most bang for the buck on military equipment.
Lamborn: Wants to talk about Rayburn's last comment about the VA. Says his facts are wrong and he "doesn't understand all of the paperwork required." Vote Lamborn — He Understands Paperwork!
Lamborn says Democrats talked about algae fuel for jets (which is a real thing, BTW), then mocks it by saying he's never seen a windmill or a solar panel on an airplane. What an asshat. Then Lamborn starts talking about how we need to get rid of Harry Reid. If he succeeds in getting rid of Obama and Harry Reid, who is he going to blame?
Megan Schrader: What have you done for the VA Hospital, and what would you do?
Lamborn: I lay this at the feet of the President. Way to show leadership, Doug. Rattles off a bunch of organizations he says he has talked with. Then he says he put out a call for people who said they had long waiting times at the VA, and hasn't gotten many responses. Why the hell would you say that?
Rayburn: Lamborn sits on Veterans Affairs Committee and Veterans Oversight Committee. Excellent points by Rayburn — pointing out how close Lamborn should have already been to the situation. Says he knows how to get answers, and that "you don't just go to a place and say, 'Hey, how's it going?'" Big cheer from the crowd.
Kelly Furta with the Colorado Springs Business Journal takes about four days to ask her question: What will you do, if elected, to unify the Republican Party, particularly after Eric Cantor's Primary defeat?
Rayburn: Cantor lost because he got entrenched in Congress and forgot about the people's business. "To bring it together is just like any other leadership challenge." Okay, Tony Robbins.
Lamborn: Cantor lost because he supported amnesty for illegal immigration. "In fact, I've told Speaker Boehner that if he even thinks about bringing the Senate bill up for a vote, he won't be speaker anymore." Whoa, there, tough guy. Still, Lamborn does a good job again with using his time to make specific points about what he has done and will do.
Keri Simisen (we must have just butchered that name — sorry) with the Springs Independent is next. Q: Is Congress today dysfunctional or not?
Lamborn: Instead of calling it a "do nothing Congress," they should call it a "do nothing Senate." Uh, yeah.
"I think the House is getting a lot done." Seriously? Then he blames Harry Reid and Barack Obama for their poor leadership.
Rayburn: Complains about House doing nothing with holding members of Obama's staff in contempt. Something about Benghazi. Rayburn really sucks at this — there's no way to sugarcoat it.
First question from Schrader, about whether the U.S. should send additional military forces to Iraq given the recent uprisings there.
Rayburn: Blames Obama administration for being "off the battlefield for years." Whatever that means. Says American lives have been wasted because Obama administration has mishandled situation. That's a weird way to answer a question tailor-made for Rayburn's career experience — by just blaming Obama?
Lamborn: Lots of specifics about Iraq policy. Disagrees about wasting American lives.
Lamborn sounded much, much better on this question, and it was not on a topic that should be considered his strength. Big missed opportunity for Rayburn.
It's Panel Time! Megan Schrader of the Springs Gazette. Someone with the Colorado Springs Independent, and someone with the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Sorry, missed the last two names.
First question: why would you be the best Republican candidate in CD-5?
Lamborn: Says Rayburn hasn't done anything to advance conservative causes since he retired from the military. And then he gets, well, just silly. "You have to be able to sway public opinion," says Lamborn, who has never actually done that himself. And then this weird line, "If leadership means having followers, I have it, and my opponent does not." Is this the election for CD-5 cult leader?
Rayburn: My opponent has no real-world experience, is a career politician. Says he has managed big organizations and budgets. "I know firsthand about letting the feds control education…[pause]…it's…bad." WTF?
Lamborn takes another swipe at Rayburn, but misses when he fails to pronounce his words. "…someone who has conservative a-cheese-ments that he can point to." Good job with the English.
Lamborn: "I didn't start this fight, but I'm going to end it." Nice shot!
Lamborn says he has upheld conservative values and principles, just like he promised he would. Says he is one of the most conservative Members of Congress. This is really a simple and effective message for Lamborn. You get dinged for being a career politician, so you say, I am what I am.
On the other hand, for a 4-term Member of Congress, Lamborn is really not a very good public speaker. He sounds like he's reading.
Lamborn's turn. His microphone isn't working, but it sounds like he's trying to say again, "We'll talk about that…" Excellent job of allowing your opponent to frame the debate in less than 3 minutes.
Ooh. Rayburn asks Lamborn to retract the statements on the mailer. Very nice.
Lamborn points at Rayburn and says, "We're going to talk about how you did…" before Rayburn cuts him off with a "guess not" that draws laughs and cheering from the crowd. Rayburn says that this reaction is another validation that he made the right decision to challenge Lamborn.
Lamborn is such a dunderhead — how do you NOT see that trap coming? You don't take that cheese.
General Rayburn, dude, enough about the mailer. You threw a great jab at Lamborn, and now you're boring him to sleep?
General Rayburn goes first for a two-minute opening statement. Talks about too many career politicians. Holds up some sort of mailer from Lamborn's campaign saying Rayburn is not pro-life, won't protect second amendment, eats babies (okay, we made that up) and says Rayburn would "cut-and-run" on our troops [Oddly, this entire time, Lamborn is holding each side of his podium and rocking back and forth. Very strange.] "Coming from a person who has never spent a day in uniform, I find that very offensive." Wow. Maybe this is going to be fun.
Good Gravy, can we get started here or what?
After a minute or so of thanking people and organizations, Fox 21 news director and anchor Joe Cole takes the stage to moderate this sucker. Turns out he's the bald guy who did the coin flip.
Wait…something is…yes, yes, something is really happening. Looks like we're getting started. Our debate is kicked off by the editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette. He just said, "Ya Debate!"
Annddd…back to the wide shot of the auditorium. That's about as much action as you'd get in the first 15 minutes of the Super Bowl.
Let's get it on!!! An unidentified bald man takes :25 seconds to explain the idea behind the "coin toss" that is about to take place. Doug Lamborn hasn't been this confused since he got dressed this morning. Still, the luckiest politician in Colorado gets another early victory — Lamborn wins the toss! He elects to go second, which is really pretty meaningless because they are going to alternate after every question anyway. Come to think of it, this seems like kind of a waste of time.
We're entering minute #12 of a wide shot of Centennial Hall in Colorado Springs as the crowd files in and chats amongst themselves. We've got nothing against watching older white people chatter about stuff we can't really hear, but for the sake of brevity (and sanity), we're going to fast forward.
We're here at our, uh, laptop watching the YouTube recording of tonights CD-5 Debate between Republicans Doug Lamborn and Bentley Rayburn. We think this might really turn out to be a special live-blog, because the recording gives us the benefit of hindsight (which, everyone knows, is way more helpful than foresight).