Brewer’s painfully long pauses

BREWER’S PAINFULLY LONG PAUSES…. I’ve seen politicians freeze on the air when confronted with a tough question for which they’re unprepared, but going blank during a debate’s opening statement? This is a new one.

Ben Smith reported, “Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s opening statement in last night’s debate reflects either an amazing lack of preparation, or sheer panic.”

It really is bizarre, and kind of painful to watch. An opening statement is the easy part — a quick introduction, highlight a few talking points, something about getting stuff done, ask for support, and move on. It’s the part of a debate in which folks tend to memorize a short spiel so they come across as competent and set a good impression for the rest of the debate.

Brewer just had a breakdown of sorts. Worse, she seems to be referring to notes in front of her — which would seemingly tell her what to say if she forgets — but which didn’t help.

By my count, there’s a full nine seconds in which a stumped Brewer says literally nothing. That may not sound like a long time, but on the air, during a debate, it’s an eternity.

Brewer is, by the way, the sitting governor. She’s not some fringe candidate included in the debate as a courtesy — Brewer is currently the chief executive of Arizona, and has been on the campaign trail for months.

I kind of doubt this will have a huge impact on the polls — Brewer may be an unprepared right-wing dolt, but she’s the strong favorite in November — but this minute-long video will serve as a reminder for campaigns for quite a while.

Update: But wait, there’s more. When the subject turned to Brewer’s bogus claims about “beheadings,” she got even more confused.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.