It is fair to say that Jan Brewer has been on the firing line for much of her tenure as governor of Arizona.
Moving up from her secretary of state position last year after Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) left to join the Obama Cabinet, Brewer, a Republican, entered the national spotlight in April when she signed the anti-illegal immigration bill known as SB 1070. The bill, much of which has been tossed out by a federal judge, would make it a crime not to carry proof of legal immigration status. It became a political lightning rod throughout Arizona, and well beyond the state line as well.
Before that controversy, there were many Republicans who were planning to challenge Brewer in the Aug. 24 primary. But once she signed the bill, she became enormously popular within her party, making a primary challenge pointless.
She's been all over the tube, nationally and locally, in the past four months. And yet, on Wednesday night, during her debate with her Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, and two lesser known gubernatorial candidates, Brewer had what the CBS News Political Hotsheet blog called a "cringe-worthy opening statement." Politico's Ben Smith says it "reflects either an amazing lack of preparation, or sheer panic."
Asked to give an opening statement, Brewer began by saying "I have uh ... done, so much and I just cannot believe that we have changed everything since I became your governor in the last 600 days."
But moments, later, after saying "we have done everything that we could possibly do," Brewer paused for a full 10 seconds — looking down, sighing, laughing just a bit nervously — before picking up again. On TV, 10 seconds is an eternity.
The rest of the debate went fairly smoothly for Brewer, reports the Arizona Republic's Ginger Rough and Casey Newton. You can judge for yourself, if you wish: The whole hour is online at AZPBS.org. The local PBS station, KAET-TV, sponsored the debate.
But her opening statement is a jaw dropper: