August: Roy Blunt's Senate campaign puts out a release challenging Robin Carnahan to six debates, including ones on Fox News Sunday and Meet the Press.
Tony Wyche, a Democratic consultant who negotiated the debate schedule on behalf of Carnahan, said he tried to nail down more than three in-state debates in addition to forums offered by Fox News Channel and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“Blunt said they would not take part in either of those debates and stated that under no circumstance would they do debates on network affiliates. Their claim was that they felt singling out one network affiliate would upset other network affiliates, which is odd, since they originally proposed ‘Meet the Press’ on NBC and ‘Fox News Sunday,’ which are exclusive to specific networks,” Wyche said.
Blunt and Carnahan settled on an untelevised debate sponsored by the Missouri Press Association in Lake Ozark and a debate on Kansas City Public Television. Negotiations over a third debate on public television in St. Louis – the largest television market in the state — fell apart over who would serve as moderator.
Wyche definitely wins the story with this:
“After all their chest-thumping, bloviation, the use of a countdown clock on their website, press releases, and Blunt himself going on the air saying he’d debate ‘anytime, anywhere,’ and now this?,” he said. “I mean, they would not go on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ Chris Wallace is suing us, and we are still willing to go on his show to debate Blunt, but Blunt won’t. Telling.”
If you're the frontrunner, which Blunt still is, you know you don't have much to gain from debates. The question is how much you think you have to lose, and if it's worth drawing attention to that by trying to avoid public debate. Sounds like Blunt knows he has a lot to lose if Missouri's voters see him go head to head with Carnahan.