California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is steadfast in her refusal to debate Republican challenger Elizabeth Emken ahead of the November election. Mark Matthews of ABC’s San Francisco affiliate sat down with Feinstein at the Democratic National Convention and had this uninspired exchange:
Some outlets have declared that she walked out on the interview, which, to be fair to Feinstein, is a bit of a misleading charge. It was the last question (Matthews himself states this) and she is leaving because the interview is over. She probably had to rush off to some union-funded reception somewhere, or perhaps she didn’t want to miss the next collection of strung together progressive catchphrases that constituted convention speeches. (“Working together we can grow from the middle! Not top down! Corporations aren’t people! GM is alive!” Did anybody else notice that when they referred to businesses outsourcing jobs, they called them “corporations,” but whenever they talked about businesses hiring and staying local, they called them “companies”? I don’t think I ever heard GM described as a “corporation” during the whole convention. But I digress.)
UPDATE: Matthews e-mailed me about the interview to say: "The first time I asked her she states, 'I'm running my own campaign,' and then gets up to leave. I asked her to elaborate on what she's doing with her campaign and she sat back down and did talk a bit more. When I asked about the debate again she got up with the mic still pinned. The interview was indeed over, because she wasn't going to say anymore about it. She stepped out of our interview room and did interviews with reporters in the hall."
Anyway, why would Feinstein debate Emken? Polling numbers currently give Feinstein a double-digit lead. Why do anything that would give Emken free publicity? I wouldn’t debate Emken if I were Feinstein (though I also wouldn’t have her awful regulation-loving and authoritarian voting record either).
Emken has no buzz in California, either. Carly Fiorina got much more attention in her effort to unseat Barbara Boxer in 2010. Emken is to Feinstein what Mitt Romney is to Barack Obama. She hits the same vague talking points about cutting budgets, reducing regulations and “repealing and replacing” ObamaCare, but in a Los Angeles Times interview from August Emkin worried about cutting defense spending (sequestration) and wants to mandate health insurance cover pre-existing conditions. She does support guest worker programs, though, and refuses to reveal how she voted for Proposition 8 because it’s not relevant to her issues. She tries to stay far away from social issues as a candidate, which is probably smart for the cities, but might hurt her elsewhere in the state. Right now there is not a lot of incentive for red voters in California to go to the polls other than Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax increase.