Gubernatorial debate 09.19.19

Eddie Rispone speaks during the Gubernatorial debate on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in the Student Union Theater.

One candidate did not seem prepared to argue or ready to defend his stance on the Gubernatorial debate stage last Thursday night.

Candidate for governor of Louisiana Eddie Rispone didn’t have much to contribute to the debate stage. He made broad conservative platitudes about cutting taxes, and only spoke in ready-made sound bites on faulty Democratic leadership and Louisiana’s lack of jobs. Rispone said little during the debate that had not already been rehashed countless times in conservative media.

His answers were predictable, empty and offered few concrete policy ideas. Rispone’s key campaign message was Louisiana needs more jobs, but this was hardly elaborated on. What specific initiatives will he launch to promote job growth? How will he create jobs without spending government money? What Louisiana sectors are in desperate need of growth? 

All of these are baseline considerations for any candidate that wants to create jobs, and yet they were completely disregarded by Rispone at the debate. Rispone pointed to his business acumen as proof that he would be able to create jobs in Louisiana. Unfortunately for Louisiana residents, running a state and running a business are not the same thing.

Rispone was unable to offer definite policy plans, and also failed to address a key fault in his portrayal of Louisiana's increase in unemployment under Democratic leadership. The exact opposite is true.

Fellow candidate Gov. John Bel Edwards reiterated throughout the debate that Louisiana’s unemployment rate has dropped dramatically in recent years. The unemployment rate is now at 4.3%, from a high of 7.4% under former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

This rate is still above the U.S. average of 3.7%. The significant decrease demonstrates that, contrary to Rispone’s assertions, the Louisiana job market hasn't been derailed by democratic leadership.

Rispone describes himself as a “political outsider,”  and his simple debating style is evidence of his status as a political novice. The few times he inserted himself in the back-and-forths of U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Gov. Edwards, he didn’t offer any of his own opinions on the issue at hand. Instead, he spoke directly to the audience to say, “Look at these politicians fighting!” 

Long answers are not necessarily evidence of developed ideas, but Rispone’s answers at the debate were so short that he didn’t effectively communicate any policy ideas. I prefer succinct answers to meandering ones, but when Rispone repeatedly finished answering in 10 seconds or less, I couldn’t help but think of when “The Office” character Kevin Malone said, “Why waste time, say lot word when few word do trick?”

It seemed that Rispone was trying to appeal to his base and distance himself from the pragmatism of government by debating in his unembellished rhetorical manner. Instead of coming off as concise and focused, Rispone just appeared uninformed on key data points and generally unprepared for office. 

Cecile Girard is a 19-year-old biology and psychology sophomore from Lake Charles, LA.

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