In the TV One John Key/Helen Clark debate so far John Key has taken control over the debate so far and has Helen Clark flustered.
Key started off looking a little nervous.
Key is aggressive, has answered every question and has Clark on the ropes.
Clark looks nervous, inexperienced and taken aback by Key's bold move to take control
It is Key's defining moment as a leader and potential Prime Minister, he knows how aggressive Clark is and has managed to stamp a strong personality all over the place by moving first.
Questions on KiwiSaver, "affordable housing" and Kiwis going overseas have all been won by Key.
References by Key to the shower head controversy have already been dropped by Key and Clark has just got nasty over it.
What do you consider as rich was a question to Clark, answer: She waffled and couldn't really answer the question with any clarity at all.
Key: "If you can afford to pay for something without thinking..."
On managing a recession Key was deep on detail while Clark interrupted with more of the same from the last nine years.
The GW warming nonsense question was also answered much better by Key, Clark had nothing but rhetoric, greenwash and nonsense. Key had facts, figures and solutions.
Clark's favourite word "sustainability" came into focus.
A YouTube question, What does sustainability mean?
Unsurprisingly she couldn't answer it because in the way she uses it the word has no meaning and therefore cannot be defined.
On Law and Order Key was strong on their tough 3 strikes and out policy while Clark had to flounder in the face of her Government's past limp wristed stance on crime and record violent crime figures.
In particular the safety of our cops came into focus and Clark's answer was the introduction of the taser, which has taken two years so far but not yet happened. Key had a much longer and detailed answer citing clamping down on youth crime, drugs and more.
On a question of self defence in respect of dairy owners being robbed beaten and killed, Key had solutions based on reasonable levels of defending property and person while Clark's answer was that Labour introduced the It is Not OK campaign-which we all know hasn't worked.
Clark has that "sucking lemons" look on her face and she looks uncomfortable and she is losing the debate badly.
A bizarre question from Barry Sopher on John Key's stance on the 1981 Springbok tour was batted away with the contempt it deserved and Key took it to Sopher AND Clark.
Key is looking like he owns the studio.
On whether Labour's Universal Student Allowance is an election bribe Clark wasn't clear and waffled and Key said we couldn't afford the policy in the face of global financial turmoil. It is true we cant.
Key continues to critique Clark's poor past Government record on a number of issues and Clark is looking stunned.
On paying for education Key has emphasised standards and Clark once again repeats the mistakes of the last nine years.
I can see coming to the end of the debate why Clark has so far refused to go head to head with Key unscripted.
She is coming undone question by question-because she doesn't have the answers or experience- and I am loving it.
On what Key can bring to his new Government. A fresh approach to New Zealand, an aspirational rather than a confrontational approach to life and experience in financial matters.
Helen Clark was found wanting on her nine years of poor results and she couldn't positively go further.
Clark also took the opportunity to attack Key's background and she focused on her "experience as a pollie".
On Clark bullying the minor parties into removal, Clark said it would cause confusion with voters and debate watchers.
On Clark's relationship with Winston Peters in the future, Clark flip flopped quicker than flipper on a hot grill and she couldn't answer with a straight face.
Of course Key had the moral high ground. He will not go with the Bauble Boy.
A question on whether Clark would do anything to retain power, she smiled, shifted uneasily from foot to foot and quite frankly lied.
She and her party have already played in the mud pit and will get down and dirty as we come closer to election day.
While Clark didn't do too badly in the debate but her appalling record over the last 9 years let her down badly because she didn't have the confidence to answer anything in the affirmative for the future.
By comparison though, Key looked comfortable with the questions and his superior financial acumen shone throughout.
He dominated and won the debate hands down.
The next John Key Helen Clark head to head debate will be on November 5th.
c Political Animal 2008