JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - An hour of question and answer for the first and only Republican gubernatorial debate with all three candidates. But how effective were the messages from Robert Foster, Tate Reeves and Bill Waller, Jr.? Let’s talk tactics. Millsaps Department of Government and Politics chair Dr. Nathan Shrader noticed each candidate stuck to certain plans throughout the night.
“Reeves’ strategy is do no harm to your own campaign," said Shrader. "And a safe message of, ‘If you’re happy with the Haley Barbour, Phil Bryant Mississippi, I’m the continuation of that and I’ll keep moving in their direction.'”
Waller circled back to his priority issues of education, healthcare and roads and bridges.
“The tactic Waller used is the other two candidates are already going to have they’re playing the Trump card, he’s going to keep talking about the issues he’s talked about since he got into this race,” Shrader said of Waller.
Robert Foster didn’t shy away from taking some jabs at Reeves.
“Took swings in a way that did not come across as condescending, rude, arrogant or negative which sometimes that is what becomes a turnoff in a debate-style setting when one candidates goes to the well so many times on a same line of attack that begins to feel very aggressive and rude,” explained Shrader.
Shrader notes that he didn’t think any of the candidates did poorly Tuesday night.
“I think that Robert Foster actually did the most to help his campaign in terms of if you think about all the thinks that a Republican primary in this state might be looking for," he said. “I don’t think Lt. Governor did anything to hurt his campaign. I don’t think he lost ground. I’m not so sure that anything happened to really help Justice Waller build his support.”
Primary election day is August 6. If a runoff is needed, it will be held August 27.