During Friday's Fox 16/Talk Business senate debate, Rep. John Boozman suggested a town hall-style debate in which he and Sen. Blanche Lincoln would take questions from the audience - no notes, just microphones - even though Boozman had declined no less than seven debate offers from the Lincoln campaign. Sen. Lincoln fumbled the response a bit, saying she was willing to do it, but they would have to set something up between the campaigns. This morning, Lincoln issued a press release, not only agreeing to a debate, but proposing the candidates sit down for four such occasions, one for each congressional district. Lincoln's campaign also reaches out to Independent candidate Trevor Drown and Green Party candidate John Gray.
"I'm delighted that Congressman Boozman has changed his mind and would like to hold an additional debate," Lincoln said in a press release. "In fact, I propose we schedule the town hall-style debates like he proposed in each congressional district so that as many Arkansas voters as possible have the opportunity to examine our records alongside one another. I look forward to the Congressman's reply."
We do too. Release on the jump.
AETN will feature the candidates Oct. 13 and the Green and independent candidates also will be included. Here's the full AETN debate schedule.
UPDATE: Boozman responds. Kind of. He says Lincoln "misconstrued" his invitation although she agreed to debates "like he proposed." He addresses Lincoln, "I’ve hosted over 40 open-forum events across the state of Arkansas since starting my campaign, and I look forward to you joining me for your first." Boozman's release is on the jump. So is this a yes or a no? I've asked the campaign for clarification. News reports this morning said Lincoln had "upped the ante" on Boozman's challenge. To stick with the poker lingo, it looks like she called his bluff.
UPDATE II: It looks like we're getting into a battle over semantics now. Patrick Creamer, with the Boozman campaign, says in response, "What the Congressman proposed was not a debate, rather that Senator Lincoln join him at a town hall and take questions from the people of Arkansas. If she commits and follows through with one, then we can see where it goes from there."
UPDATE III: Trevor Drown compliments Lincoln. Pops Boozman.
Lincoln On Boozman Debate Challenge:
"Why Stop at One?"
Lincoln proposes 4 additional debates, each congressional district covered
After declining at least seven invitations from non-partisan organizations to join Senator Blanche Lincoln in a candidate forum or debate, Congressman John Boozman used one of his questions during Friday's Talk Business/Fox 16 debate to challenge Senator Lincoln to an additional debate.
Today, Senator Lincoln welcomed the opportunity and said "why stop at one?"
"I'm delighted that Congressman Boozman has changed his mind and would like to hold an additional debate," Lincoln said. "In fact, I propose we schedule the town hall-style debates like he proposed in each congressional district so that as many Arkansas voters as possible have the opportunity to examine our records alongside one another. I look forward to the Congressman's reply."
Lincoln suggested that college campuses would be ideal locations for the candidate debate series and she welcomed the participation of Independent Trevor Drown and Green Party candidate John Gray.
Congressman Boozman has agreed to only two debates (Talk Business held September 10 and AETN's upcoming debate on October 13) 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
Dear Senator Lincoln,
At our September 10th debate, I invited you to abandon the pre-screened questions, the structure, the filters, and the security of prepared taking points, and join me on stage for an extended town hall. I think you misconstrued my invitation to join me at an open, town hall meeting.
The stipulations were clear: two microphones, two chairs, and two candidates on a stage without notes answering unscreened questions from Arkansans at a pre-publicized, town hall forum.
No tickets, no reserved seats - it’s first come, first serve, and we stay until all questions are asked.
This is a job interview Senator Lincoln. The people of Arkansas are the boss, and they deserve to have their questions answered.
Voters have the right to ask unfiltered, unscreened questions and receive straightforward, honest answers from their elected officials. I understand this responsibility. Open town hall forums and meet-and-greets, not scripted podium pronouncements, have served as the principle format for my U.S. Senate campaign.
I’ve hosted over 40 open-forum events across the state of Arkansas since starting my campaign, and I look forward to you joining me for your first.
TREVOR DROWN STATEMENT
We applaud the efforts of Senator Lincoln to include all candidates in the debate, no matter what her motivation is. The people of Arkansas deserve a chance to hear from each candidate. .All four of us have rightfully earned their spot to be a candidate and have their voice heard by the people of Arkansas. It is shame that Congressman Boozman is attempting to manipulate the traditional process of debate which we use in the country to air differences to his benefit. Furthermore, Congressman Boozman has no ground to stand on that he is a friend of the Veterans in this country, since he is refusing to engage in debate with the only Veteran in the US Senate race. His attempt to silence the process is typical of the leadership problems the Arkansas Republican Party continue to demonstrate.