In an Bayoubuzz interview with Greg Hilburn, the Gannett reporter discussed the absence of what most presumed to be the lead candidate, Sen. David Vitter, the recent TV and radio political and attack ads, the candidates' policy positions on reducing the state budget chronic problems, two recent polls and the Vitter campaign and Super PAC money advantages.
Below is part one of this interview and discussion.
(Please note that Greg Hilburn was driving at the time of the interview and at various moments his statements were difficult to understand due to cell breakup and so therefore are labeled "intelligible". We made the best effort to publish an accurate transcription but please listen to the audio if necessary).
SABLUDOWSKY: Greg Hilburn, how are you doing today. As I understand it, you are heading back to Monroe from Baton Rouge, am I correct?
HILBURN: I'm heading back from Baton Rouge, as you know, I work for all five of the Gannett papers in Louisiana, I lived in Monroe, but I'm always all over the place.
SABLUDOWSKY:Sure. Absolutely. Now you went to the Baton Rouge press club forum today, and how was it?
HILBURN: It was (Unintelligible), the first few minutes, the three candidates who were there, Lieut. Gov. Dardenne, public service commissioner Angelle, and of course John Bell Edwards a Democrat, all took aim at Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, because he wasn't there. Of course, he hasn't been to enough of those to suit his opponents.
SABLUDOWSKY:To suit his opponents, okay, we'll get back to that, in terms of substance, was there anything of substance or different from before? From the other forums that you saw?
HILBURN: Not completely. They did get to some policy. One thing they're always asked about the dedicated funds, and which of the rebates or tax credits they would reduce. They all say there is a need for the unlocking of dedicated funds and/or the reducing of tax credits, rebates, mostly towards industry, business and (unintelligible). And there rarely very specific, and they weren't too specific today. They were asked for one specific rebate or credit. I believe that Edwards and Angelle said they would prefer reductions of the film tax credits; Jay Dardenne said that if he had to name one, horizontal drilling tax credit, reduction or elimination of that. But each said it would take an examination of all the credits before they could be any more specific.
SABLUDOWSKY:That's kind of a copout, I mean, by this point of time, at lease I think it's a copout. This point of time, have an idea, we talked about it for months this spring. This area is more control, is a lobby emphasis issue, who has the best lobbyists. It seems to me..
HILBURN: That's right, and each of these credits and each of these dedicated funds, were talking but to separate things here, the credits and rebates or the dedicated funds at large, most of them have very large constituents and so they are very hesitant to identify them, I think, as you said, it's a copout because at this point, they aren't willing to alienate those constituencies. That's just my opinion.
SABLUDOWSKY:And mine, and that's what I was trying to get to but you said it so much better than me. So did anybody mention any of the new ads, TV or radio ads, that are currently running? They did. They talked about the ads from Sen. Vitter's campaign that link Angelle to Obama and calls Dardenne a liberal and so they were hot on that topic right from the start. Since Dardenne said, both Dardenne and Angelle said it was a sign that Sen. Vitter fears that his candidacy is (unintelligible). And so he's for these attack ads. And Dardenne tried to separate himself from John Bel Edwards by saying we don't see any attack ads on John Bel, because he (Vitter) wants John bel in the runoffs. And the conventional political wisdom is that he, Sen. Vitter, needs John Bel in the runoff and that John Bel need Sen. Vitter to have a chance to win. I don't know if that's true that's just what the pundits say.
HILBURN: right, speaking about what pundits say and polls, there is a new poll that is out, let me say this I don't normally mention polls that do not have full information in this one doesn't have full information and I want to disclaim, or at least put a disclaimer this poll, this is from the Louisiana Rising Pac, have you seen that?
SABLUDOWSKY:That is Vitter's pac, right?
HILBURN: No, that's Angelle's PAC
SABLUDOWSKY:and, Vitter's PAC is the Fund for Louisiana's future. This poll has Vitter at 24% and Angelle at 21%. And it's on LouisianarisingPac.com and is under the title, "Vitter turns to false-negative attacks as his support collapses". And that's what you were saying that they were saying. So this is the first post-qualifying poll that they are saying that Vitter at 24%, Angelle at 21. Edwards 20%, Dardenne10 percent. And 21% undecided. That poll it should be said that this is a super PAC supporting Scott Angelle and he's at 21% according to the poll. There was another poll became out that was, likewise, in my opinion should be looked at, very very reluctantly and that is one that is put up by TheHayride. Didn't have any of the cross tabs. Never do show the cross tabs. So I personally don't put up any poll that doesn't have the cross tabs.
HILBURN: Over the years, I have written about polls, I know people like polls, the readers do, (unintelligible). I never know what I'm writing about (unintelligible) (if it is true). I'm not going to write about them again. My sense is the race is maybe bunched up a little bit but it's Vitter. So I certainly can't say...
SABLUDOWSKY:Sure, in terms of my opinion, I would say that I don't think any poll is really accurate right now, naturally it is a snap shot at best, a snap shot at a particular point in time, subject to a lot of other issues and I personally don't put up any poll at all that doesn't have cross tabs and I've got to say that gotten Triumphs poll in the past and wouldn't put it up unless I got the cross tabs and I did receive them and so I did put them up. Likewise, Verne Kennedy I request cross tabs and I got them the first time, second time no. So I don't put him up. It so I won't put this one either. I'm just saying, it is there, and it should be considered for what it is. It is a poll that has been conducted on the behalf of the super PAC (the LouisianaRisingPAC) and just like the internal polls. You got to consider it for what it is. So having said that, these are the polls that are out there. And in defense, my thoughts are the other poll by Hayride which had both Dardenne and Angelle, I think it 14%, not at 21% (Angelle's SuperPAC for Angelle), Vitter at 31 and Edwards at 31. So the range I think with Dardenne at 10 according to this poll and Vitter and Edwards at 31%, somewhere, in between that, plus or minus a couple points here there are two numbers, with maybe Vitter and Edwards a little higher point, but, with unquestionably Vitter having at least two times the money to spend. I know that this is an opinion, but have you had any experience, I try to put it in terms of a news question, rather than editorial, but do you have any recollection as to one candidate having all the money in a world, but taking his competition for granted, I mean paying attention to them but, losing, even though they had all the money in the world. Do you recall any thing like that in Louisiana?
HILBURN: I know there are elections like that in other parts of the country and maybe in Louisiana that I can't discount the (unintelligible) saturate the airwaves (unintelligible). It's hard to discount that much money. Just got to be honest with you (unintelligible). It's an uphill battle for anybody to overcome that.
SABLUDOWSKY:I definitely agree, and I think that the polls, even if there a good snapshot in time, you got to look at other factors such as the money factor