I called the Leaders debate a marginal win for David Cunliffe. Â Certainly, the TVNZ results weren’t representative of how the debate unfolded. Â Key was over prepared. Â He was driving hard to get get the messages out, and instead of being relaxed and showing us John Key, he appeared forced.
I bet the hand in his pocket was a fist most of the time.
But it turns out that John Key wasn’t just debating David Cunliffe
He spent much of his career taunting National’s front bench, famously dismissing John Key as a “rich prick” and developing a reputation as the sharpest politician of his generation.
So Sir Michael Cullen can scarcely have imagined he would later play the role of Key, charged with winding up and unsettling Labour’s leader in a hostile debate.
While critics are split on the outcome of Thursday night’s TVNZ leaders’ debate, most seemed surprised at how polished David Cunliffe was.
This was no accident. Labour viewed the importance of the first televised debate as second only to election day. It had half a million viewers, most seeing Cunliffe on an equal footing with the prime minister for the first time. Read more »