WHILE federal leaders Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott were battling it out in a Brisbane debate on Wednesday night, Bass candidates were doing the same thing in Launceston, albeit to a smaller audience.
Like the Brisbane debate, there was no knockout blow by either Liberal candidate Andrew Nikolic or Labor MHR Geoff Lyons, although Greens candidate Lucy Landon-Lane effectively knocked herself out by admitting she didn't expect to win the seat but was standing to offer voters more choice.
However, like the national debate - which got heated when Mr Abbott interrupted a waffling Mr Rudd with the question, "Does this guy ever shut up?" - it gave the audience an insight into what type of leader and advocate each candidate would be.
Mr Lyons is honest and hard working with strong connections to the community (even if he got caught out exaggerating a medal achievement) but a terrible public speaker.
Sure, have briefing notes in front of you and if you need to pull out a fact or figure, then refer to them by all means. But don't bury your head in them and read word for word from a government press release. It's unconvincing and uninspiring.
Mr Nikolic is smart and articulate with an impressive string of credentials but has an aggressive and confrontational style.
His manner reminds me of a famous quote attributed to French military commander Ferdinand Foch: "My centre is yielding. My right is retreating. Situation excellent. I am attacking."
Such forcefulness or directness could ruffle some feathers though.
Mrs Landon-Lane has broad concerns for Bass and small business but conceded she did not have as much campaigning experience as her competitors.
Greens' policies were never going to get a good run in a room full of business leaders and major party apparatchiks, but she stuck to her views.
Of course, how good a local candidate is might actually be inconsequential in this election campaign that is increasingly dominated by the personalities, or lack thereof, of Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott.
Whether people vote for their local candidate or who they want to become president, sorry prime minister, has been a perennial question for the parties.
I'm sure voters have been in the position where they wanted a particular party to form government but could not bring themselves to vote for that party's candidate because he or she was a dud. Or they really wanted a candidate to represent them in Canberra but did not want that person's leader to be PM.
As a swinging voter, it has certainly happened to me.
So who should Bass voters elect? Mrs Landon-Lane admits it won't be her so it's down to Mr Nikolic and Mr Lyons.
Neither of their closing addresses painted a strong future vision for Bass.
Mr Lyons read out an ALP press release so quickly and with such contrived vigour that he actually yelled: "I am a proud Tasmania!"
Mr Nikolic made the mistake of attacking Labor's legacy and not articulating his own.
In the last two weeks these candidates will need to show a compelling reason why they should represent Bass.