augusta free press news

McDonnell flip-flops on debates

“This letter is nothing more than grandstanding by a struggling campaign,” the campaign manager said regarding a letter from a political rival issuing a challenge for a series of debates across the Commonwealth.
“For a politician who claims to be all about straight talk, this letter is more about publicity than public service,” the campaign manager continued.

“While Mr. Baril is concerned about political debates, Del. McDonnell’s primary concern is debating the important issues facing our Commonwealth in the General Assembly session for the next several weeks.”

This was from a Feb. 11, 2005, article in The Augusta Free Press reporting on the debate challenge issued by Republican attorney-general nomination candidate Steve Baril to Bob McDonnell, whose campaign manager, Janet Polarek, was the one dismissing the challenge as “grandstanding” and “publicity.”

Interesting perspective there considering the salvo from the McDonnell gubernatorial campaign on Wednesday wherein McDonnell challenged Democrat Creigh Deeds to a 10-debate series.

“It would be an honor to travel the state from late July through late October debating Creigh on jobs, transportation, education, economic development, health care, the environment, public safety, taxes and spending in front of audiences in every region,” McDonnell said in a statement sent to the media Wednesday after the debate series was proposed formally to the Deeds campaign in a letter earlier in the morning.

“I anticipate that each debate will be available to voters statewide online and through radio, print and television outlets. These debates would keep the focus of this campaign where it belongs: on the issues. I hope Creigh will agree that Virginians deserve to hear from the two candidates for Virginia’s highest office directly, and together, as often as is possible. I look forward to receiving Creigh’s positive reply to this proposal for a formal series of 10 gubernatorial debates,” McDonnell said.

Deeds campaign spokesman Jared Leopold was more positive in his response later Wednesday than Polarek was a few years back in responding to the Baril challenge. “Creigh Deeds is eager to compare his record of common-sense leadership to Bob McDonnell’s record of opposing bipartisan progress,” Leopold said. “Creigh participated in numerous debates and joint appearances in the primary, and his strong debate performances helped to propel his come-from-behind victory. The Deeds campaign will work with community and news organizations and the McDonnell campaign to schedule a series of debates, so that all Virginians have the opportunity to hear the stark differences between the two candidates. We expect the number of debates to be in line with precedent from the 2005 Kaine-Kilgore and Deeds-McDonnell debate schedules.”


– Story by Chris Graham