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Alzheimers.  It's a scary word, and when it was spoken tonight it caused an audible gasp to ripple through the crowd at the Candidate's Forum, sponsored by the Chico Enterprise Record and The League of Women Voters.

Representative Wally Herger's sudden and unexplained decision to skip the debate prompted even the Chico ER to editorialize against him, accusing him of "Campaigning From the Couch." Wednesday night, after Herger's representative read a few paragraphs of standard Republican talking points to a silent crowd, Jim Reed voiced his own suspicions about why Herger has been ducking him when he has willingly debated opponents in the past.

Reed's comments below the fold.

The Enterprise-Record:

Our view: When politicians don't have to debate before an election, it's not good for democracy.

Jim Reed will drive three hours from his home in Fall River Mills to speak at a candidates forum tonight in Chico. Wally Herger, the other candidate, won't drive across town to do so.

The ER posited that Herger doesn't have to debate because, well, he doesn't have to debate.  He's ahead in the polls.  His district leans Republican.  He's held on to his seat for 24 years against opponents both serious and silly. He's loaded with cash. Why take a political risk?  

But while it has become fashionable for Republican candidates to speak exclusively with Fox-friendly media, Herger has even spurned a debate proposed by his own natural allies. Jim Reed, a moderate Democrat who hasn't hesitated to meet with any of the north state's constituents, has spoken at Tea Party events, spurring the Shasta Tea Party to offer to host their own debate in hopes of luring Herger out. No dice.  

Unfortunately, Herger's refusals to come out in the open have only fueled long-term speculation and rumors about his mental fitness to be re-elected. Reed had already suggested in an interview with Progressive News Radio that Alzheimer's might be behind Herger's suddenly reclusive ways, and in tonight's forum he similarly didn't pull any punches:

transcript: (emphasis mine)

So I'm Jim Reed.  I really wish that Wally was here tonight. I'm disappointed, not so much because you're not going to be able to see the contrast between our political issues because you can go to our website and you'll see what our views are on the political issues. You pretty much know that Wally Herger's pretty much out there on the right wing; I'm pretty much in the middle as a moderate Democrat. But what we miss by not having Wally Herger here is to see the personal.  And a lot of you say, Well, he's been in office for 24 years, we know what Wally Herger's like.  But has he grown old and tired?  Or, does he have the fire in the belly?  That's what we need to know.
{snipped)
Let me end by saying this. We have a debate, Wally Herger and I have a debate scheduled for October 25th, to be televised on KIXE. I am absolutely convinced that wouldn't have happened but for a newspaper article that came out from a Chico paper last week that identified some unusual behavior and suggested that maybe he's not willing to debate Reed because he has an illness, perhaps  Alzheimer's.  The next day, we had a debate [scheduled].  Now that was the right thing for Wally to do because the easiest way to just get rid of a rumor like that, a terrible rumor, and that's a terrible disease, is to debate.  But the problem with choosing October 25th for that debate is, it should have been today.  If on October 25th he finds an excuse why he can't be there, he gets called back to Washington, there's just not enough time to reschedule it. So, and it even suggests that maybe this is a ploy that he never intended to debate at all if he doesn't show up on October 25th. So anyway, let's stay tuned, I truly hope he will.  I'm Jim Reed running for Congress. I ask for your vote. Thank you.

Stay tuned, indeed.

Originally posted to smileycreek's corner on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 08:19 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just checked my sample ballot, (18+ / 0-)

    and Herger didn't even bother to fill out the Candidate's Statement.

    #lame

    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

    by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 08:19:13 AM PDT

    •  Herger candidate statement (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smileycreek

      There's nothing in the candidate stement because he hasn't done anything of merit that he could possibly write in. As far as I'm concerned "his ridiculous candidacy doesn't merit attention". (wuote: Someone else's with minor adjustment.

  •  This seems sort of scummy... (8+ / 0-)

    To accuse a political opponent of having Alzheimer's.  Leave that stuff up to the pundits, candidates shouldn't go there.  

    Grassroot passion comes and goes - Corporate interest in consistent. Message being that if you want to stay elected then sell-out, it's safer.

    by Jonze on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 08:23:21 AM PDT

  •  it's yet another case (8+ / 0-)

    of ghost candidacy.

    Why should these tools face the public when they can run & hide and get idiots to vote for them anyway?

    Our Democracy is teetering on the edge right now. Record TEEVEE ad buys might decide this election. I have but a little faith most people will do the right thing.

    Quit yer whinin' and GOTFV.

    by LaughingPlanet on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 08:23:28 AM PDT

  •  In case anyone forgot who Wally is... (5+ / 0-)

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 09:00:35 AM PDT

  •  Transcript (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, smileycreek, SoCalHobbit
    From reading the transcript, it sounds like the newspaper that he is referencing is the one that suggested it could be Alzheimer's, not him. It's not like he just made it up out of the blue, anyway.
    •  If you go to the interview (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lujane, SoCalHobbit

      at Progressive News Radio you'll see that political people have been coming up to Reed since the onset of the campaign asking him about Wally's mental status and giving him story after story about why they think he's in the early onset of Alzheimer's.

      So no, Reed is not making this up....he's just the first to go public with it.

      FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
      RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

      by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 09:18:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Herger's staff must be propping him up, n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek

    "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, US AG

    by Mr SeeMore on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 10:48:08 AM PDT

  •  Herger's Glazed Over Look in Redding ! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luckylizard, smileycreek, Jim Swanson

    I saw Herger in Redding last night at the Shasta Co Republican HQ Rally and the Fire Pelosi ! bus tour with Michael Steele and other Repub notables traveling to Red counties in CA to fire up the Tea Party folks.  About 50 unhappy looking individuals in attendance.  As Herger stepped off the 60 ft. luxurious bus, from minute one he had this glazed over look on his face, greasy plastered/uncut hair and his standard stump speech...get rid of Social Security, Medicare and Obama's health care plan and put it in the hands of Wall St. So this is why he couldn't make it to the League of Women Voters debate with Jim Reed ?! Traveling on a plush bus is a much safer way to campaign versus taking important questions from his constituents.  And the Alzheimer question...all he has to do is release a current medical exam and end of question.  John in Redding.

    •  Is there video of this? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      smileycreek

      Is there any other recent video that people could see in order to make their own assessment?  If folks can't see/hear him debate or see a medical report that says he's well, they will have to rely on their own eyes and ears.  If there is no recent audio or (preferably) video, even that will be hard to do.

      I'm not one who's necessarily gung ho on term limits, but I think that if people need a yearly assessment in order to drive beyond a certain age, they surely should need it to run the country.  

      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

      by luckylizard on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 12:11:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Therein lies the rub. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        luckylizard

        Anyone can look reasonably together reading  canned talking points off a sheet of paper.  This is why Reed is pushing for  a televised debate where Herger has to respond and think on his feet.  So far, Wally has avoided anything but brief, canned, written statements and more often relies on his staff (like last night) to read prepared statements for him.  

        FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
        RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

        by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 12:38:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even reading from a script, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          smileycreek

          there is much to be discerned by noting physical things.  Even there is no debate, any recent vids of him looking less than able could be indicative of failing health or acuity.

          -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

          by luckylizard on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 01:01:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I found a recent video (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            luckylizard, Jim Swanson

            here that is not youtube, otherwise I would embed it.

            FWIW.

            FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
            RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

            by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 01:23:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              smileycreek

              Trying to view it now.  I've had trouble with my internet recently, so don't know if it's me or the video source.  :-)

              -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

              by luckylizard on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 01:28:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Here's a better example: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                luckylizard

                This is a recent C-Span video with Wally Herger at the Ways and Means Committee. Everyone else is speaking without notes. The  subject was the Chinese Yuan, and Herger went off-topic, reading from a page, for 6 minutes about taxes.  At the end Becerra reminded Wally, that's fine, but we need to go back to talking about China.

                The  relevant passage begins at 30:07.

                Ways & Means Committee hearing.

                FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
                RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

                by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 02:23:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  And one more time, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  smileycreek

                  thank you!  I couldn't get the other on to load from that website, but did find it on youtube.  I didn't see his eyes blink much.  That was a bit spooky...

                  -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                  by luckylizard on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 02:27:46 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  yeah, the glassy stare. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    luckylizard

                    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
                    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

                    by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 02:34:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  His performance (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      smileycreek

                      on the C-SPAN vid just seems to be ordinary incompetence, not something medical.  OTOH, I'm not that familiar with him so it could be a radical departure from his normal demeanor.  I did find it interesting that he even opted to read the part thanking the chairman for the hearing.  Just about anyone ought to be able to say thank you without a crib sheet....  ;-)

                      -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

                      by luckylizard on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 02:40:19 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  The radio interview with Jim Reed (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        luckylizard, paradiseagain

                        cited above goes more into Reed's putting the individual pieces together.  It's true that any individual example can be chalked up to incompetence or generic Republican obstructionism.

                        I wish Herger would just debate as he has in every other election, and it's odd that he even refused the debate set up by the very friendly local Tea Party.  His silence, and his insistence on only responding through his staff, is fueling already rampant rumors.

                        It certainly is an interesting election cycle.

                        FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
                        RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

                        by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 02:53:30 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Herger won't load (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                smileycreek

                I've waited more than twenty minutes for the Herger video to load that is suggested by smileycreek. I just think the site is overloaded.

  •  Somebody already put up a poll: (0+ / 0-)

    Polldaddy:  Will Wally Herger Actually Show up to Debate Jim Reed?

    Flaw in the poll-- it doesn't show the number of votes.

    FDR: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    RNC: The only thing we have is fear.

    by smileycreek on Thu Oct 07, 2010 at 03:13:49 PM PDT

  •  I have seen videos of Herger on C-Span and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smileycreek

    noticed he reads from a prepared document and noticed that his prepared materials did not fit closely with the topic being discussed.  Most of the Congress representitives can speak without a written script and ask questions as the hearing progresses.  I saw him respond in a hearing on Chinese currency and the question was not appropriate for the hearing scheduled. Mr. Herger didn't seem to be very knowledgeable about the topic and did not ask any stand-alone questions.   This was the Ways and Means Committee that he hopes to be the leader of when the Republicans win back the White House.  People that follow Mr. Herger in the hearings seem to be impatient with his comments.  It wastes time.  

    In one of his town hall conference calls, a caller asked about term limits.  Mr. Herger responded by saying we have term limits because the voters decide how long a person is in office.  I felt like he was very sure he would be elected or that he really didn't care if he was elected at all.  I was confused by his answer.

    When I first heard Mr. Herger might have early onset Alzheimer's, I felt very sad.  It is a difficult illness.  As sad as I feel, we just cannot afford to have someone represent our district without the skills to get the job done in these difficult times.  We need people that can actively participate in the process.  I wouldn't think the stresses put upon our leaders would be very good for someone with Alzheimer's.  

    He really should come forward and discus this with the voters.  We deserve this.  If it is true, I could see where someone might want to hide out of embarrassment.  Maybe in the denial stage?  The voters should not be put in the place of having to figure out if this is a slur campaign or reality.  

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