The video: Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer got off to a rocky start in her first election debate with Democratic challenger Attorney General Terry Goddard on Wednesday night—struggling through a "train wreck" of an opening statement that could, some say, undermine her reported 19-point lead. (See video below.) After a particularly uncomfortable first 13 seconds, a grimacing Brewer never truly regained her poise while stumbling through talking points on the state budget, federal health care, and the controversial Arizona SB 1070 immigration bill.
The reaction: "Hey, Arizona immigration-law haters who are looking for some schadenfreude: It's popcorn time," says Jim Newell at Gawker. This has to be "one of the worst debate opening statements ... ever." Adds Ben Smith at Politico: "It reflects either an amazing lack of preparation, or sheer panic." Cut her some slack, says Chris Good at The Atlantic. As a fellow stage-fright sufferer, "I've gotta feel for Brewer here." She was probably just nervous. At the same time, it "is the kind of thing that people notice" when looking at candidates—"and it's the only televised debate before the November election." Watch the clip below: