Down in the polls, Callahan has supposedly clamored for more debate time, but he ducked a surprisingly good debate sponsored by the local tea party this Spring. Now, he’s running from a local debate on jobs and the economy at the very time that Charlie Dent is being endorsed by one of the nation’s leading small business organizations.
On Friday, John Callahan backed out of an Oct. 18 debate with Congressman Dent hosted by the Nazareth/Bath Area, Whitehall Area and Slate Belt Chambers of Commerce. Maybe he’s afraid that someone will question him about his own “simple jobs plan,” something he was unable to explain at the Lafayette debate.
As Bernie’s own post on the Tea Party debate illustrates, the only “Democrat” in attendance was oddball Senate Dem primary candidate Joe Vodvarka. As you can see from his statement of principles, also available in Bernie’s post, Vodvarka is a pretty run-of-the-mill rightwinger. As we saw today in the new NBC/WSJ poll, the tea party is just the rump conservative base, and hasn’t actually brought in many new people:
“These are essentially conservative Republicans who are very ticked-off people,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart…
Mr. McInturff said the tea-party movement had not necessarily drawn new people into the GOP. Rather, he said, “a substantial chunk of the Republican Party is rebranding themselves.”
This would be like if I faulted Charlie Dent for declining a debate hosted by Organizing for America, with only Democratic primary candidates, targeted at Democratic primary voters. It is obvious that this was an intra-right debate, hosted by conservative Bobby Gunther Walsh, aimed at conservatives and Republican primary voters, because it was before the Republican primary.
As for the October 18th debate, “backed out” implies that the Callahan campaign agreed to the debate, and then cancelled, which is simply false. The campaign has a scheduling conflict on the 18th.
The idea that Charlie Dent is the candidate who has been for more debates all along is ridiculous. First Dent whined about debating Jake Towne, then he refused to debate at Northampton Community College and straight up dropped off the debate at DeSales late on a Friday (and the newspapers never reported on it), and worst of all, he pulled strings behind the scenes to get the first debate chopped in half.
So why does Charlie Dent want this debate so much, but not the others?
I’ve heard from multiple sources now that Dent has been whining to Tony Ianelli that the Chamber hasn’t been out there shilling for him. So the Dent campaign found somebody who will shill for him – Frank DeRosa, Director of the Nazareth Chamber of Commerce, and known Republican partisan, who will coincidentally be the only moderator.
Dent knows his jobs record doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, so besides the obligatory news organization debates, he’s only agreeing to debate in tightly controlled settings stacked with Republicans. He thinks he has better chances of getting a gotcha moment from Callahan here and that’s why he’s going to the trouble.
Despite all the previous wrangling to avoid debates or change the rules, Dent has puzzingly offered to clear his schedule for just this one debate. If time isn’t an issue for the Nazareth Chamber debate, then why doesn’t he also have time for the NCC and DeSales debates?