Debates: Rigell, Nye, Hurt Perriello and that’s it?

Tertium Quids covers the debate over debates in the 5th district, where Republican Nominee Sen. Robert Hurt has now said he will not debate independent candidate Jeff Clark, even after saying he would.

How many lessons do Republicans need to learn from Ronald Reagan.

Nashua, New Hampshire in 1980 coming of Reagan’s loss to Bush in Iowa:

“I thought it had been unfair to exclude the other candidates from the debate. Most of them were also campaigning in New Hampshire that weekend, and since we were now sponsoring and paying for it, I decided to invite them to join the debate…When he spotted the four other candidates, Jim Baker, George Bush’s campaign manager, protested and said George would not participate in the debate as long as they were part of it.”(RR)

Reagan won New Hampshire’s primary 50-23 and was on his way to the Presidency. Bush never recovered from his hissy fit.

In the Fall, Reagan insisted on including John Anderson in debates with Carter. Carter refused and no showed, so Anderson and Reagan debated and spent most of the time bashing Carter. Another debate was canceled, and Carter never gave up his insistence that independent candidates be excluded.

Candidates cede a giant amount of populism by excluding other candidates from debates. More importantly, looking afraid is not the most electable image.

Hurt’s starting to look that way with his flip-flop. Is he better off chickening his way into a one-on-one? Or did Reagan have it right?

Perriello can checkmate Hurt by simply proclaiming he won’t debate unless all certified candidates are included. What can Hurt say? Other than looking afraid of a single-digit candidate, Hurt’s painted into a corner.

The same situation is brewing in the 2nd District. On his victory night, Scott Rigell proclaimed his anticipation for debating Congressman Glenn Nye.

And I have to admit the first thought I had was “I hope for Rigell’s sake that Nye’s debate attendance record is better than Rigell’s was during the primary.” But Kenny Golden’s independent run makes for an interesting parallel to the Hurt-Perriello race.

The debate over whether Kenny Golden will be included in Congressional debates with Rigell and Nye has begun, but only in whispers.

So, let’s increase the whispers. Should independents be included in either Congressional debates?

And don’t give me that “only if they are so high in the polls” – spending money shouldn’t be a prerequisite for debate.

In or out?