Jan Brewer's Cringe-Worthy Debate Opening Statement

Gov. Jan Brewer (GOV. JAN BREWER cq) speaks to the media outside the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park Wednesday, July 28, 2010, following a federal court ruling blocking some of the key provisions of Arizona SB1070, the immigration bill. Photo by Jill Torrance/Arizona Daily Star MANDATORY CREDIT, NO SALE, NO MAGS
Jill Torrance/Arizona Daily Star

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer gave what can only be described as a cringe-worthy opening statement in her debate against Democratic opponent Terry Goddard last night.

Politico's Ben Smith, who picked the video up off YouTube, wrote that Brewer's performance "reflects either an amazing lack of preparation, or sheer panic."

Check out the statement at left.

As for the rest of the debate: Brewer, a Republican whose popularity in her state and nationwide shot upward after she signed Arizona's controversial immigration measure S.B. 1070, seemed to recover after her disastrous opening, sparring with Goddard on that issue as well as the economy, as the Arizona Republic reports.

She boasted of balancing the budget of a state once on the verge of bankruptcy by cutting 2.2 billion in spending - though, as the Republic notes, the state is facing a $700 million budget shortfall.

"It has been a tough row to hoe, but I got the job done," she said. Goddard, the Arizona attorney general hoping to unseat Brewer as governor, responded that Arizona has lost more jobs than have been created during Brewer's tenure.

On immigration, Goddard argued that S.B. 1070 would do little to secure the border; Brewer countered that the bill forced the federal government to focus on the issue, and suggested it had resulted in the deployment of more National Guard troops.

He also called out Brewer for saying that "law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded," a claim for which she has provided no evidence.

"You need to stop saying things that are untrue, that defame our state, like there are beheadings in the desert," he said. "Our men and women of law enforcement have done a great job, and it's time we recognize and thank them rather than tear them down."

Pressed by reporters after the debate, Brewer refused to recant the beheadings claim.

There were actually two other candidates participating in the debate, Barry Hess and Larry Gist, but the conversation was dominated by Goddard and Brewer.

Goddard once looked like a strong challenger to Brewer, but her decision to sign S.B. 1070 has catapulted her to a strong advantage in the race; a Rasmussen poll late last month found Brewer leading by almost 20 percentage points.