They talked over each other, and the moderators. And by the end of Tuesday night’s debate between David Vitter and John Bel Edwards, one thing was abundantly clear: the two candidates for governor despise each other.
“John Bel, you’re just wrong,” Vitter flung at his opponent.
“Senator Vitter, you’ve been lying sideways in the public trough since 1992,” Edwards said.
A majority of the back and forth between the pair – who were allowed to address questions to each other, after responding to those posed by reporters -- focused on Vitter attacking Edwards’ voting record in the state legislature and Edwards going after Vitter’s record in Congress.
The most heated moments came near the end of the debate, which was hosted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for a Better Louisiana. A question about hiring trackers and/or private investigators touched nerves, and touched off some biting dialogue.
“We haven’t directly hired them,” Vitter said of his campaign, “But others in support of my campaign have. But it is a free country.”
“My campaign has not hired, paid for anybody to do any tracking or any investigations,” Edwards stated. “In fact, Senator Vitter spent $156-thousand on private investigation and lied about it and said the money was being spent on legal fees.”
“You act holier than thou; you’ve never hired these folks,” Vitter bit back. “You act holier than thou: oh, we don’t do negative campaigning. Well, in fact you have the most vicious negative ad up right now. I mean, isn’t that just completely disingenuous?”
“With respect to the negative ad, if it’s a low blow, it’s only because that’s where you live, Senator. It’s 100% truthful. You didn’t say it was untrue.” Edwards replied. “You want me to take it down because you don’t like it. I understand you don’t like it. It hits you where you live.”
A non-televised debate on faith and religion, sponsored in part by the Louisiana Family Forum, is set for Thursday night in Baton Rouge. The final statewide televised debate is scheduled next Monday night.