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Reversal too late for TV debate

McMorris Rodgers calls event she had declined ‘of value to the people’

A few days after Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ campaign said she couldn’t fit a televised debate into her schedule, the Republican incumbent shifted course Friday and offered to debate her Democratic challenger after all.

Daryl Romeyn said in an interview Friday on KXLY news, however, he made commitments after she backed out and can’t change his schedule because of her “flip flop.” He repeated that sentiment to the television producer trying to arrange the debate.

“The debate is off,” said producer Jill Johnson.

The McMorris Rodgers campaign on Friday morning called Johnson, the producer trying to arrange the debate for KSPS-TV and KXLY-TV, asking if the offer to debate Romeyn on television next week was still open.

This was a reversal from Monday night, when the campaign said it was turning down the offer, under discussion since August, because of “scheduling constraints.” Friday the campaign issued a statement from McMorris Rodgers, saying she would change her schedule because she “concluded that having a debate with my opponent would be of value to the people of Eastern Washington.”

In the KXLY interview, however, Romeyn said he wasn’t available anymore: “I made other commitments to people for those dates.” He suggested McMorris Rodgers show up at some of the events on his schedule in the coming days.

Johnson said earlier Friday the two stations were willing to air the debate Tuesday evening, although it will likely have to be taped earlier in the day. But she said she couldn’t commit for Romeyn and wasn’t able to contact him before his live interview on KXLY-TV.

The debate was the one proposed televised meeting between Romeyn and McMorris Rodgers. The deadlock would mean Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District would be without a face-to-face debate for the first time in decades.

McMorris Rodgers’ two immediate predecessors, George Nethercutt and Tom Foley, never refused to debate an opponent, although Foley’s challengers sometimes declined to debate him for strategic reasons.


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