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Noem-Robinson Dakotafest Battle No Thrill for Either Side… Meaning Noem Wins

Last updated on 2014.08.19

Lefty blogger Michael Larson and righty blogger Ken Santema agree: neither Rep. Kristi Noem nor Corinna Robinson said much worthwhile at Tuesday's Dakotafest "debate" (a term to which Santema explicitly and Larson implicitly object, given the absence of real clash).

Of course, equal failure means the incumbent won.

Just Friday, the liberal Larson posted a glowing review of Robinson's performance on friendly turf at the Sioux Falls Democratic Forum. But Robinson's driftiness in Mitchell draws this coachly advice:

Noem left a lot of issues unanswered and avoided them in the debate. There were a lot of strong moments for Robinson in this debate; however, she must get more aggressive and must be near flawless if she hopes to defeat Noem [Michael Larson, "Corinna Robinson and Missed Opportunities," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.08.19].

The conservative Santema is equally hard on both candidates, noting Robinson's inability to focus and tailor her talking points to the Dakotafest audience but also taking issue with Noem's continues ideological inconsistency (an issue that still has me wondering how Noem manages to get her highest approval ratings among the Tea Party conservatives who ought to be most riled by ideological wishy-washiness).

Noem can ignore these unfavorable reviews. She has money, name recognition, and the seat. She need only, as Santema points out, say what she needs to get by.

Robinson cannot ignore these reviews from both sides of the aisle. The burden to shift the balance and rock every debate is entirely hers. As Larson and Santema see it, Robinson must retool and practice her messaging and her on-the-spot responses to Noem's lazy rhetoric.


  1. Lynn 2014.08.20

    Debating takes practice, preparation, knowing strengths, weaknesses and the ability to take advantage of an opportunity. There was a great deal at stake yesterday and the pressure was on in the opening round of debates.

    Kristi Noem being a weak legislator and still a fairly weak debater has been able to practice and improve over the years compared to when she first started and it showed yesterday.

    Corinna Robinson 1st round is over but it's a great opportunity to recap and critique your performance, be open to seek help from those who are experienced and nuanced at debating and issues for a focused and effective message in preparation for the next debate. It's about communicating how you will serve ALL of South Dakotans in Washington. I know you have much more to offer in being our next US Representative than Kristi Noem!

  2. Lynn 2014.08.20

    I do wish the Dakota Fest debates offered candidates a chance for rebuttal to get those competitive juices going and see some spirited debates which benefit not only the audience but also candidates. Otherwise the so called debate at Dakota Fest is stale.

    Drive on Corinna! Drive on! :)

  3. MJL 2014.08.20

    Lynn wrote: "I do wish the Dakota Fest debates offered candidates a chance for rebuttal to get those competitive juices going and see some spirited debates which benefit not only the audience but also candidates. Otherwise the so called debate at Dakota Fest is stale."

    There were plenty of moments to create a rebuttal. I think many of the topics were related that you could turn it on the other speaker. It is just that Corinna wasn't as prepared as she needed when it comes to grabbing those points from Noem.

  4. Lynn 2014.08.20

    MJL I know and agree. Corinna is a South Dakota native and citizen running for a national office and is not a polished politician. She was probably naturally nervous and not prepared as she should of been. She missed some great opportunities in including creating a rebuttal in that debate. Asking that a formal rebuttal be included in the structure of the debate could help liven things up. It was frustrating to watch knowing what was at stake and that Corinna could do better.

  5. 96 Tears 2014.08.20

    Noem chickened out from the time-honored congressional debate at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron. Did anybody bother to ask her why?

  6. JeniW 2014.08.20

    96 Tears, why risk putting foot in mouth when one can take South Dakota Republican voters for granted and know that one is automatic shoo in?

  7. John Tsitrian 2014.08.20

    Given Robinson's much-referenced military background, I was surprised that her foray into this skirmish lacked preparation and a plan of attack.

  8. Craig 2014.08.20

    Based upon the (lack of) media coverage of the debate, I'm not sure it matters. Unless Robinson does something significant or challenges Noem on the issues, Noem can feel free to order up another few cases of Congressional letterhead.

  9. JeniW 2014.08.20

    John T., it is a different type of war, calling for different type of weapon.

    While she was in the military, she had a captive audience, and her audience had to do what she told them to. She does nit have that kind of power outside the military.

    That does not mean that she would not be a much better Representative than Rep. Noem, it just may mean that she is not quite savvy enough to present herself in a public forum.

    Someone who has big muscles from lifting weights does not mean that s/he is good at running a marathon.

  10. Jenny 2014.08.20

    One word - boring. Noem kicked butt.

  11. John Tsitrian 2014.08.20

    So JeniW, would you say that Robinson's persistent reliance on her military credentials as the basis of her qualifications to run for Congress is mis-applied? I lost count of the number of times she referenced her military background during the "debate."

  12. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    Corinna, your causing me great frustration. Debate opportunities are so limited that you need to be prepared to inject some of Noem's Republican criticism directly at her.
    This current congress has the lowest approval record in history, often times reaching into single digits. You need to capitalize on that.
    Kristi Noem is an obstructionist legislator, that does not help South Dakota.
    Kristi Noem voted for the government shutdown that costs the government billions of dollars and affected tourism traffic in South Dakota.
    At the time of the October blizzard, Noem voted to shutdown the government that impacted the agricultural industry. People harmed by that blizzard had nowhere to go for government assistance. Thank you Kristi.
    How many years did it take for Noem to get that farm bill passed when she sat on that committee and could have demonstrated her leadership skills. She did nothing and claimed all the credit when President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law.
    Kristi wants to cut the SNAP program but keeps in place financial rewards for farmers and ranchers that already have resources. How much longer in our free market system must we subsidize the ag industry when they refuse to pull themselves up by their own boot straps?
    Kristi, Rounds and their Republican Party continually talk about repealing Obamacare when they know the votes are not there for repeal and would be vetoed by the President should that unlikely event ever happen. They are doing nothing but playing to the weakest link of their party, you need to tell them that.
    I'm worried about you Corinna and would like to see you elected, you can't totally rely on your military career to do that. South Dakotans respect military service, use your military only when it applies.
    There are plenty of Republicans that don't like Noem, give them a reason to like and vote for you.
    If you don't become the attack dog for the Democratic Party you will lose this election.
    I'm inclined to think you have it in you, you'r tough, show us how tough you are.

  13. JeniW 2014.08.20

    No, no, no John T. that is not what I wrote!

    I did not type one word about her as you put "persistent reliance on her military credentials as the basis of her qualifications to run for Congress," you did.

    You missed my analogy by a mile.

  14. John Tsitrian 2014.08.20

    Thanks for setting me straight, JeniW.

  15. Tim 2014.08.20

    RC, have you ever considered running for public office? You would make a great representative I think.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Lynn, I noticed today that the Dakotafest debate rules apparently do allow for rebuttal. During the Senate debate, on the ACA question, Mike Rounds leaned over to WNAX moderator Jerry Oster and asked for time to respond. When Howie finished, Oster said the rules permit such responses.

    Such designated rebuttal time is important for real debate. but even without it, today Susan Wismer and Rick Weiland showed their excellent preparation. They clearly did not go in cold. They were ready to key on the responses they new their opponents would give (like Mike Rounds's "South Dakota common sense") and turn them into rebuttal points.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.08.20

    Legislature for RC? Maybe... but I might draft him as my secretary of tribal affairs... when I run on a fusion ticket with Stace Nelson in 2018. ;-)

  18. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.08.20

    Tim, you are right about Roger. He would be a Paul Wellstone type of legislator, doing the right thing regardless of party affiliation or personal cost. In other words, Roger has integrity.

  19. Roger Cornelius 2014.08.20

    Thanks Tim, Cory, and Deb,

    To be honest, I have never given serious consideration to running for public office. I love the campaigns and trying to deal with issues in a direct and effective way.

    Tim, I've volunteered in numerous state, tribal, and national elections since 1968 when I worked for Bobby Kennedy. The part I have enjoyed was being a member of several tribal presidents kitchen cabinet and an advisor to politicians once they were in office. The follow up on campaign promises and the ongoing issues is intriguing and rewarding.
    I talk hard and directly, as I did to Corinna, when they make mistakes or don't handle a problem properly. Never allowing a candidate to make excuses can get testy if your guy or gal gets pissed at you.

    Thanks again for the compliment

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