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McDonnell Renews Debate Request

Anita Kumar

Republican Bob McDonnell isn't dropping his debate challenge.

McDonnell renewed his request today for a series of 10 debates with Democrat Creigh Deeds after his campaign said Deeds rejected the original offer last week.

"There is a hunger for robust political discourse in this campaign," said Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman.

Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold said Deeds never rejected the challenge but that the campaign will continue to work with potential organizers to devise a list of debates across the state on their timetable, not McDonnell's.

The two have agreed to a July 25 debate at the Homestead resort in Deeds' home county of Bath, but no others.

Usually the candidate who is trailing in the polls is the one who asks for more debates to garner more exposure, but neither is considered the underdog at this point in the race.

Instead, McDonnell may be trying to take advantage of the low expectations of the unpolished, stammering Deeds. But anyone who watched any of the five Democratic primary debates knows that the self-proclaimed country lawyer can more than hold his own, even managing to snag a headline or two.

In 2005, it was the Democratic candidate, Tim Kaine, who made an issue of the debates. He used signs, a Website and even a man dressed as a duck to mock Republican Jerry Kilgore for "ducking" debates.

If Deeds does not respond to the challenge McDonnell may try to make the debates an issue the same way Kaine did.

By Anita Kumar  |  July 7, 2009; 5:12 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar  
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Comments

"But anyone who watched any of the five Democratic primary debates knows that the self-proclaimed country lawyer can more than hold his own, even managing to snag a headline or two."

Ok, then why doesn't Deeds do this? It comes down to money, folks. Deeds will raise A LOT of it and has some high priced consultants that will put out those snazzy tv ads for him, and maybe even couple those ads w/ a Washington Post endorsement. Free press in the form of a debate is not something the campaign would want- it lets voters all across the state hear the views of the candidates, without the candidates having to raise unreal amounts of money as tv can carry these debates. Of course, a lot of folks would say that's how democracy should work. Campaigns just don't work that way- from the political shop to the media to the outreach, etc. etc. there are a lot of people to pay who know debates turn the focus elsewhere and make it very hard to control 'spin'.

Posted by: ChrisD4 | July 8, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

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