Now Bill Halter has proposed a series of six "town hall" debates with U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln. I've asked for a response.
UPDATE: The Lincoln response:
“Senator Lincoln is eager to debate her opponents so Arkansas voters have the opportunity to accurately judge her record of common sense results for our state,” Lincoln Campaign Manager Steve Patterson said. “Our campaign will be glad to work with neutral parties that are interested in sponsoring candidate debates that do not conflict with the Senator’s full-time job representing Arkansas in the Senate. Just today we are reminded how difficult that can be when the Senate Leadership put Senators on notice that there may be votes throughout the weekend. This would force the Senator to cancel a very full schedule in Arkansas this weekend. Our campaign has already been busy building the Senator’s weekend schedules in the state and during Congressional breaks but, at her instruction, we are also prepared to cooperate to the best of our ability in order to accommodate as many candidate debates as her schedule allows.”
This probably as good a place as any to note, as readers already have, that Lincoln approves of House passage of the Senate health bill last night but that she won't vote for the reconciliation bill that was a critical element of getting House approval of the deal. Her statement on that follows Halter's challenge.
Today Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, candidate for U.S. Senate, invited Sen. Blanche Lincoln to join him in six debates around Arkansas.
“Two weeks ago I announced my commitment to hold town halls in all 75 counties in Arkansas as a Senator. I believe it is important to get around the state to hear from Arkansans. I invite Senator Lincoln to join me in town hall debates. Arkansans will be able to express directly to us what they want in their government. And we can discuss the differences in our visions and records; issues like health care, jobs and access to higher education” said Halter.
“These town halls would offer all voters an opportunity to meet with Senator Lincoln and myself close to home,” said Halter.
Halter spokesperson Bud Jackson said, “Town halls across the state at University and Community College campuses would be more than just good for the campaign. It will be good for Arkansas. We believe that six debates gives us the opportunity to visit a range of communities while still fulfilling the responsibilities of holding office and other campaign commitments.” Jackson encouraged Senator Lincoln’s campaign to join the Halter campaign in scheduling the town debates as soon as possible.
Just now, the United States House of Representatives voted to approve the Senate Health Insurance reform bill that I helped craft and which I supported last year. I now look forward to the President signing this historic legislation into law.
Even with its imperfections, this bill represents the most morally and fiscally responsible approach to health reform. I have fought for health care reform to reduce costs for small business owners and the self-employed so they can reinvest the savings in their companies and hire more workers.
I am pleased that we will now force insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, preserve Medicare for future generations and reduce the deficit by more than one trillion dollars over the next 20 years. I now look forward to ensuring that Arkansans benefit the most from health insurance reform.
I expect the misinformation campaign about the new law to continue and I also expect many of the attacks will be targeted against me, starting with my position on additional changes contained in a procedure called Budget Reconciliation. I cannot support the Reconciliation package devised by the House which includes matters unrelated to health care and employs a legislative process that wasn't subject to the same transparency and thorough debate that we used in the Senate.
We need to stand together in the weeks ahead and I want to take this moment to thank you for your comments and suggestions throughout this important debate.