Friday, August 27, 2010

Abbott punts debate decision; White to debate empty chair

While Rick Perry continues to duck a debate with Bill White, Greg Abbott apparently delegates those decisions to his staff. So while BAR waits for Abbott's people to decide whether he's a chicken or not, White prepares to debate the governor in absentia.

The Austin American-Statesman and the state's other major newspapers will host a gubernatorial debate event this fall, even if just one candidate shows up.

The newspapers, along with Austin public television station KLRU, will deliver a letter to Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Democratic challenger Bill White today inviting them to a debate at the KLRU studios on the University of Texas campus at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19.

Perry has said he will not accept debate invitations until White agrees to release his income tax returns from his time as deputy energy secretary in the mid-1990s.

"If only one candidate shows up for the debate, we will discuss issues with him alone for the entire hour," says the letter, which is signed by the editors of the American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, as well as Bill Stotesbery, the CEO of KLRU.

Meanwhile, Abbott (with the Texas Tribune's Evan Smith -- video at the link):

I asked Attorney General Greg Abbott if he planned to debate his Democratic opponent, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, in the weeks before the Nov. 2 general election. Against the backdrop of the Perry-White debate do-si-do, I figured Abbott, a self-professed champion of open government and transparency, would leap at the chance to say, in essence, "Yes, anywhere, any time, etc." To the contrary, the GOP incumbent turfed the responsibility for making that decision to his staff.

Abbott seems to be coasting on several things lately.

Is this really the "leadership" Texas needs now? Or any time, for that matter?

Update: from the most recent Radnofsky press release...

(Abbott:) "That is going to be up to the people who run my campaign. I don't make those decisions." When a follow up question asking why it couldn't be up to him to make the decision, Mr. Abbott said, "I pay good money to people who run my campaign. I make them earn their money." Mr. Abbott also emphasized: "As far as I know my team either has or has not decided. They will let me know as we build out our schedule."

Radnofsky: "Mr. Abbott's statements reflect his bad judgment. Taxpayers pay Mr. Abbott 'good money' to make key decisions. A public official should not palm off the decision to debate vital issues of the day. Mr. Abbott wrongly abdicates his responsibility."

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