BOSTON (CBS) – It’s the “other” main event tonight in Boston.
The first debate between Democratic Congressman Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. You can see it on WBZ TV and listen at WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
And let’s remember this is the first time the two nominees will be on stage together.
Until now they have only attacked each other from a distance.
Tonight they’ll be just a few feet apart. And it’s always fascinating to see how the candidates interact in this environment.
Body language will be huge. As will the candidates’ facial expressions when they’re not talking. Watch the split screen – you can tell a lot from the candidates’ faces when they’re listening to their opponent.
The job for both candidates tonight is to turn their perceived weaknesses into strengths.
The criticism we hear about Markey is that he’s a career politician. Part of the Washington woodwork who hasn’t done much in 37 years.
To turn that around, Markey must embrace his tenure. Talk about the causes he’s fought for and the alliances he’s made in Washington. And tell viewers and listeners how his experience gives him a leg-up on his opponent who has never held elective office.
That’s what some Democrats call Gomez’s weakness. They say he’s inexperienced. Too green to operate in the U.S. Senate.
Gomez has spent months trying to turn that around, casting himself as the fresh face. The former Navy SEAL who will bring a new perspective.
And more importantly a new kind of Republican. That’s what Gomez has promised, with more moderate views on issues like immigration reform and gay marriage.
That’s a tough case to make for a Republican in Massachusetts.
Just ask Scott Brown.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeMathieuWBZ.