Thom Tillis stopped just short of calling Kay Hagan 'little lady'

Hagan-Tillis I was a mostly lifeless, predictable affair. It ended up sounding like a mash of wrong priorities damage to North Carolina lockstep with Barack Obama and Harry Reid doesn’t understand the needs of women make America great again. The same stuff we’ve heard for months.

One thing shone through the dishwater, though. Could Thom Tillis have been any more condescending toward Kay Hagan, a sitting U.S. Senator?

It happened time and again—from Tillis suggesting Hagan, a former bank vice president, is math-challenged; to his argument that Hagan fails to see the distinction between employer coverage of contraception and “access”; to his repeated reference to her by her first name, a practice he seemed to drop toward the end of the debate, then picked up again.

That last—being generous here—might have been a ham-handed attempt at folksiness. But in the context of the rest of the debate, it came across as disrespectful, especially given Hagan’s consistent reference to Tillis by his proper title.

Trivial? Not necessarily. Poll results show Tillis’ biggest support deficit lies with women, a critical demographic in the 2008 race that Hagan won. The most recent Public Policy Polling survey shows 44 percent of women polled supporting Hagan and only 27 percent for Tillis, with 21 percent undecided. Last night, Tillis edged toward courting some of those votes with a tepid endorsement for “increased access” to contraception—although the details were absent, and that employer coverage of contraception would surely increase access went unmentioned.

Whatever ground Tillis hoped to gain with that 21 percent of undecided women got swept away during the rest of the debate. If any of those women tuned in to see the candidates on the same stage for the first time, they saw clearly the lack of respect the challenger had for the incumbent—something the Hagan campaign will surely highlight for the next two months.

Categories: Poking the Hornet’s Nest