Hurt, Perriello continue debate on debates

Fifth District Democrat Tom Perriello and Republican challenger Robert Hurt are continuing their spat on debates in their fall campaign.

The Perriello campaign accused Hurt of backing out of a pair of agreed-upon televised debates in an e-mail today. The Hurt campaign answered with an e-mail accusing Perriello of being afraid to debate the challenger.

The point of disagreement concerns independent candidate Jeffrey Clark, a Tea Party activist who Perriello wants included in the debates, and Hurt doesn’t.

“It is an insult to the voters when a candidate says he wants to represent Virginians, but is afraid to stand up and say why,” Perriello campaign manager Lise Clavel said in a statement today. “Not only has Sen. Hurt flip-flopped his position on debates numerous times, but even after we and the news stations offered a number of reasonable compromises, he still refuses to debate. Clearly, Sen. Hurt is so afraid of showing how out of touch he is with working families during these tough economic times that he won’t explain himself in a televised debate.”

The Hurt campaign states as its issue with Clark being included in the debate that he would have to register at least 10 percent in polling to be able to qualify.

Only one poll has been released publicly in the race since Hurt won the GOP nomination in a June primary. Clark measured support at 4 percent in that poll, conducted by Survey USA in July.

“The Hurt campaign has made it clear from the beginning that we wanted to debate Tom Perriello one-on-one. We accepted a standard proposed by NBC29 and WSET to allow the independent candidate to attend only if he received 10 percent or more in a public survey. In an attempt to play political games and avoid debating Robert Hurt one on one, the Perriello campaign claims they agreed to 10 percent, but have in fact only agreed to 6 percent. Only a Washington politician would define 10 percent as 6 percent,” Hurt campaign manager Sean Harrison said.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at

Keywords: fifth district congress, virginia politics

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