It’s like he’s afraid to directly engage on the issues or something.
Four days after Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott backed out of a planned debate with Democrat Wendy Davis in Dallas, it was unclear Tuesday whether there would be a gubernatorial debate in the city at all.
Davis agreed to Abbott’s format preferences for a debate on Sept. 30 to be hosted by WFAA-TV in Dallas, the Davis campaign said Tuesday. But Abbott has committed to debating at a different venue in the city, Davis hasn’t accepted the invitation to the second one and WFAA says it’s no longer pursuing a debate. (The Texas Tribune had been a partner with WFAA on its original debate.)
Davis and Abbott had both agreed to the WFAA debate — as well as another debate in McAllen — but Abbott backed out of the WFAA event on Friday because of what one of his advisers said was “an inability to agree on specific details of the format.” The debate was to be a roundtable conversation with no specific time limits for candidate remarks.
Davis campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas issued a statement Tuesday after the campaign met with WFAA.
“We have spoken with WFAA this afternoon and expressed our willingness to alter the previously agreed upon debate format to accommodate the Abbott campaign’s concerns about the lack of timed responses,” Petkanas said. “Wendy looks forward to meeting Mr. Abbott in this more structured debate setting at WFAA on September 30th.”
WFAA President and General Manager Mike Devlin said the station will no longer pursue the debate because of Abbott’s unwillingness to cooperate.
“We expect people running for the governorship to behave in an honorable fashion,” Devlin said. “At a certain point when you are dealing with somebody who doesn’t keep commitments, why would we keep going back?”
After backing out of the WFAA debate Friday, Abbott agreed to another Dallas debate on Sept. 30 hosted by KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News. However, Davis did not agree to that debate because she had already committed to the WFAA event, the Davis campaign said Tuesday. But in a statement issued later Tuesday, Petkanas said the campaign “will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”
Emphasis mine. Can’t really say it any better than that, though the full statement from Zac Petankas is worth highlighting as well:
“If Greg Abbott isn’t tough enough to handle a roundtable discussion in front of a statewide audience, it’s hard to see how he’s tough enough to be Governor of Texas,” said campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas. “However, the fact that Greg Abbott isn’t willing to keep his word shouldn’t deprive voters of the chance to see both candidates debate issues like his defense of $5.4 billion in public education cuts. In that spirit, we will open discussions with KERA tomorrow regarding the possibility of a debate.”
Indeed. See here for more.
UPDATE: We have an agreement on a new debate.