Sen. Blanche Lincoln's campaign is making much of Rep. John Bozoman's varying excuses for limiting his shared appearances (debates and forums) with Lincoln.
Fair points in Lincoln's news release on the jump, particularly on Boozman's inartful and disingenuous responses. But, sadly, this is a familiar pattern in politics. The favorite ducks and dodges; the badly trailing challenger tries to make something of it. It rarely amounts to much of a voter issue.
LINCOLN NEWS RELEASE
Congressman Boozman: Too Busy or Just Ducking Debates?
Congressman John Boozman and his campaign manager claimed yesterday that he was unable to appear with Senator Blanche Lincoln before the Arkansas Economic Developers because of a scheduling conflict. But that's not what his campaign stated in an email to the event organizer just days before the event.
At a fundraiser last night, Congressman Boozman told reporters he had given organizers "plenty of notice" that he could not attend the Arkansas Economic Developers conference held Tuesday in Hot Springs; his campaign manager said he had declined the invitation "two weeks ago" due to a "scheduling conflict" and organizers "weren't able to adjust."
However, in an email forwarded to the Lincoln Campaign by the conference coordinator, Kay Brockwell that was dated one week before the event, a Boozman staff member wrote, "I was under the impression each candidate would be speaking separately to the conference vs. answering questions in a debate format. We were just in Hot Springs doing the same type event last week. We have committed to doing 3 debates and we have locked those in and to be fair to those debate/forum requests we have already declined, it's only appropriate to decline this as well. I do apologize for the misunderstanding."
The Arkansas Economic Developers is just the latest in a growing list of groups and organizations around the state whose requests for a Senate debate or forum have been accepted by Senator Lincoln and declined by Congressman Boozman.
"It appears that Congressman Boozman is spending a lot of his time reading Republican-biased poll numbers and measuring the drapes for his new Senate office," Lincoln Campaign Manager Steve Patterson said. "Not a single vote has been cast and he's decided this is going to be a free ride. One thing is for sure, Senator Lincoln doesn't take a single vote for granted."
"We believe there are serious differences between Senator Lincoln and Congressman Boozman and Arkansas voters have every right to examine those differences," Patterson continued. "We've heard from several groups around the state who are eager to stage forums and debates."
Congressman Boozman has agreed to only two debates but has declined the following debates/candidate forums, including three in his own congressional district. His campaign has given various and often conflicting excuses. Senator Lincoln has accepted all invitations listed below.
Arkansas Economic Developers Forum, Hot Springs, August 24
Boozman's excuse after initially accepting the invitation: We thought each candidate would speak separately.
University of Arkansas Student Government Association Debate
Boozman's excuse: We're only doing two debates.
Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders Candidate Debate hosted by the Rogers-Lowell Chamber of Commerce
Boozman's excuse: Will only have one debate in each congressional district and already committed to do the University of Arkansas debate.
KFSM-Channel 5 and The City Wire Debate in Fort Smith
Boozman's excuse: Not sure he can make it.
El Dorado Forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the El Dorado News-Times and Noalmark Broadcasting
Boozman's excuse: Schedule is booked.
Pulaski County Bar Association candidate forum in Little Rock
Boozman's excuse: He'll be in D.C.
Associated Press debate in Little Rock
No Response from Boozman
Transcript from August 24, 2010 Boozman Fundraiser Media Avail:
Question: Senator Lincoln's campaign had said that you had backed out of appearing at that economic development forum today after you realized it was a joint appearance. I'd like to give you a chance to respond to that.
Boozman: You know, I, to be honest, I, that was the really the first thing that I'd really heard of it was today and my understanding...Sarah? My understanding was that we'd given them plenty of notice that we just couldn't be there...
Campaign Manager Sarah Huckabee (off camera): Two weeks ago, we declined.
Boozman: Yes, and we've got the emails and the whole bit.
Huckabee: We had a scheduling conflict...(inaudible)...and they weren't able to adjust, so.
Boozman: So that's really the deal. I'll say this, you know, I've been all over the state, and will continue to be all over the state. The functions that we have are open, you know, unless we're doing a fundraising event. But the vast majority of our events are meet and greets. We advertise them, anybody's welcome to come, I'll speak for four or five minutes, and then I'll take any question that anyone wants to ask me. And I really enjoy that. I think I learn a lot, and learning what's on peoples' minds, and they understand my views. But, we've been very very open and we're out and about as much, well, we're out and about more than anyone, by far.