Appearing on the local political talk show “Face to Face” in June, Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle challenged Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) to a debate, saying “What I would like to see is Harry Reid come into this studio and have a true debate, and on the issues.” Angle’s Deputy Campaign Manager agreed to a debate in August, and both campaigns signed off on an October 21st date for the debate.
However, last week, less than a half hour after host Jon Ralston announced the debate, Angle’s spokesman called Ralston to say that Angle would not be participating in the debate because it was after early voting started. Angle’s campaign then quickly put out a press release referring to a different event headlined, “Angle Campaign Agrees To 2nd Debate On September 23.” It was “an obvious attempt to deflect attention from her campaign’s disavowal of the candidate’s public challenge to Reid,” Ralston noted. The campaign eventually apologized for giving Ralston “the wrong signal,” but refused to reschedule, saying simply, “no debate.”
In a recent interview with local conservative talk radio host Alan Stock (who attempted to defend Angle by calling the “Face to Face” debate a “ploy”), Angle gave a bizarre explanation for canceling the debate that she herself had requested, saying “we wanted an informed electorate:”
STOCK: Well, Jon Ralston has suggested that he invited you to debate. You accepted, then you reneged on it, because you didn’t want to answer questions and stuff like that. How do you respond to that?
ANGLE: We’ve always been very clear that we didn’t want to debate after early voting started because we wanted an informed electorate. And we’ve held to that premise from the very beginning. That’s why the Nevada Broadcasters Association is having theirs on the 14th of October. And that’s why Harry Reid agreed to have it on the 14th is because we said we wanted an informed people voting.
STOCK: So, you haven’t backed out? … All right. The other one was a ploy to confuse you about dates and everything else.
ANGLE: Well, I think that, um, when you start trying to go around people in the campaign, you sometimes get confusing answers. … We said that that was our only…the only thing really required was that it not be held after early voting started.
While the October 21st debate would come five days after early voting started, Ralston noted that “approximately 80 percent of the electorate will not have voted” by then. Moreover, Angle refused to reschedule the debate for before early voting started. Meanwhile, the second “debate” Angle agreed to could hardly be described as such, considering that Reid won’t even be in the room and all his questions and answers will be pre-recorded. The press release announcing the “debate” also said the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce was a sponsor, but a spokeswoman said the chamber “had nothing to do with it.” The release was “much more than misleading,” Ralston concluded.
Angle has spent much of her campaign hiding from the press, and this is not first time she has canceled a public event that she herself has called for. In July, she called a press conference, only to flee three minutes into it, forcing reporters, including one who was six months pregnant, to run after her.
Angle made a similar request to debate Reid on Fox & Friends, saying to the camera, “Harry Reid, will you come on Fox and Friends and debate with me?” No word on whether Fox has tried to hold her to that.