I missed this when it cam out last week, but it is a REALLY good article that was printed in the Springfield News-Leader on Oct. 15th.
It basically summarises the "debate about debates" that has been going on constantly in the Ozarks the past few months.
There is more Newberry buzz going on here than anyone outside MO-7 could realize, and a lot of "old school" Republicans are starting to express concerns about their once beloved Roy Blunt and his reckless spending toward corporate welfare.
Published October 15, 2004
Blunt declines request for third debate
By Andrew Tangel
Congressman Roy Blunt, R-Strafford, has again rebuffed his Democratic challenger's call to hold a town-hall style debate in which both candidates would directly field questions from the public.
Blunt, the 7th District's U.S. representative, wrote in a letter to Newberry dated Oct. 7: "No matter how many times we held town hall events together we would never get close to the audience or press attention we have already received during" the past two debates open only to journalists.
Newberry's campaign seized on the Republican incumbent's nonacceptance as proof the incumbent has "something to hide" regarding his record and said Blunt was undermining public debate.
"Openness is what democracy's about," said Newberry, a Springfield attorney. "I mean, the whole concept of a democracy started with a town hall meeting, when citizens had a direct voice in their government. Of course, as the country grew, it became a representative democracy, but that doesn't mean that the citizens shouldn't have as direct a voice as they can have, and they should be able to ask the questions that are on their minds."
But Burson Taylor, a spokeswoman for Blunt's campaign, said that Blunt has made an "unprecedented effort" to fully disclose his record, publishing it in newspapers and on his Web site.
She agreed that debates are important to democracy but said the two previous debates already contributed heavily to public debate in the race.
The goal of the two previous debates, she said, was to reach "as many people as possible," and she noted that the last debate earlier this month featured questions submitted by voters.
Taylor wouldn't rule out a third debate before the November election.
Meanwhile, she said, Blunt would be on the campaign trail talking with voters.
Blunt is "interested in talking with southwest Missourians about the real issues that affect them each and every day, and he will leave the debate on debates to others," she said.
The arguments over a third debate between the congressional candidates arose after President Bush and Sen. John Kerry sparred rhetorically for their third and final time.
Newberry said he was disappointed with both candidates' inability to explain where they would find the money for their proposals.
"They had a lot of trouble answering direct questions," Newberry said. "I don't think it persuaded most of the undecided voters."
The president appeared to have improved in his third performance, sounding more direct than before, Newberry said. "I thought he improved in style," Newberry said, adding that Kerry has been "pretty consistent" throughout the debates.
Blunt could not be reached for comment.
But in a prepared statement, he said in part: "Americans saw tonight the clear difference in this election: the steady leadership of President Bush on domestic issues important to Missourians, and the inconsistencies of Sen. Kerry which demonstrate his inability to lead."
Assignment editor Liam M. Truchard contributed to this story.