Adding insult to injury, pouring salt in the wound, putting out a fire with gasoline. You decide which metaphor is best while you watch Barbara Comstock literally turn her back on some softball free-TV interview questions right after today’s debate:
(Video made available courtesy of WJLA. Good job, you guys!)
UPDATE: The woman stiff-arming reporter Mike Conneen and obsessing at him over her business card appears to be Susan Falconer, variously reported as Comstock’s “manager,” “spokesperson,” and “handler.” Apparently, her practice of stopping people from asking Comstock abortion-related questions is a long-standing one, and applies even to Republican-friendly media. The Foust campaign surely knows this is a weak point in Comstock’s armor, and Falconer’s flying tackle of a mainstream reporter confirms that Comstock knows it too. But what the video above also proves is that Comstock is afraid of the press. For a candidate, “earned” media (as opposed to the kind you pay for) is the brass ring of the campaign merry-go-round. But here we see the front-runner actually hiding behind her manager (or whatever), while that manager physically blocks a reporter from giving her candidate some potentially dazzling earned media.
Because the reporter brought up abortion. Notice that, as Falconer dashes between Comstock and Conneen, Comstock instantly reacts by turning away from the camera. While most candidates would gently ease their overzealous staffer aside, saying, “Of course I can answer that for you,” Comstock and Falconer executed a play worthy of a professional quarterback and an offensive guard. This was a practiced move, one that shows Comstock has decided that any answer to an abortion question is, for her, the wrong answer. For the public, this means they are being asked to vote for a candidate who hides from the press. For Foust, this means he knows exactly where to aim his next shot, and the one after that, again and again, until election day.
Comstock ran scared, giving up free time on TV, because anything she says about abortion, anything at all, will cost her votes. John Foust’s job, from here on in, will be to get her talking.
UPDATE 2: The story of Comtock running away has become the news from the debate: PoliticsUSA, BlueVirginia, DCCC (of course), Daily Kos, and even (albeit with kid gloves) The Washington Times. (Also about a billion Twitter posts.) The only good news for Comstock’s campaign is that her cowardice under the lights is stealing some of the focus from her statement in the debate itself that the government should be tracking people as though they were FedEx packages. (Not entirely, though, as the Wall Street Journal even reported on it.)