Beshear replies to debate ducking criticism


by Joe Arnold

Posted on September 19, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 20 at 8:17 AM

Governor Steve Beshear says he will consider other debates with gubernatorial challenger David Williams, yet believes the two already scheduled are sufficient.

Beshear recently canceled his appearance at the Yearlings Club in West Louisville after Williams, the Republican candidate,  confirmed that he would attend.  Beshear has declined several others, including an October proposal from the Louisville forum and a KET debate that focuses on education issues.   A Lexington Herald-Leader editorial called Beshear "arrogant" for opting out of the education debate.

"We've got time for debates when we can get them together and we're agreeing to them," Beshear said when asked about the education discussion, "You know, we're going to have two statewide debates in October.  It's going to be televised all over the place.  Everybody's going to get to watch."

Beshear has agreed to an October 11 debate in Richmond, Kentucky and an October 31 KET forum.  

"We'll still look at things as they come along but I do know that we've nailed those down," Beshear said.

"Governor Beshear is avoiding every opportunity to stand up and defend himself and to talk about the future because he knows he cannot defend himself," Williams said.

In July, the two frontrunners offered a clear contrast at the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum which Williams used as an opportunity to question Beshear's agenda and riddle him with barbs and criticism.

With a lead of more than twenty points in several polls, Beshear appears to have little to gain politically by allowing Williams more such opportunities.  Yet, Williams says the public deserves the opportunity to compare the candidates' agendas for the next four years head to head.

"The people will demand it. I believe," Williams said.

"Everybody pretty much by now knows my record," Beshear said, "They know where I stand on things."

The incumbent Beshear of 2011 has a different view than the Senate challenger Beshear in 1996 who criticized Senator Mitch McConnell for avoiding debates, and the Beshear of 2007 who benefited from a push from WHAS11 to get Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher to agree to a televised debate.  WHAS11 is waiting for Beshear's response to a debate invitation this year.

"We'll look at it and try to see if we can work anything out," Beshear replied.

"He's sitting on his laurels that do not exist," Williams said, "And he's trying to use all this money that he's raised to promote himself in a way that is contrary to the actual public record."

"My opponent has been in politics for the last 25 years," Beshear said, "I think most folks know his record and where he stands on things.  But we'll continue to discuss those records out in public forums and I would predict that people would get pretty sick and tired of us before November 8."