Sestak ditches Toomey debate for … fundraiser with John Kerry?
posted at 10:12 am on September 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Seriously? Voters in Pennsylvania already think that Democratic candidates for Congress have lost touch with the electorate and want to avoid accountability. Given an opportunity to address those concerns, debate the issues with his opponent, and convince Keystone State voters to promote him to the Senate, Congressman Joe Sestak instead ditched an audience in Hershey … in order to hang out with Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, his wife Teresa, and some cold cash:
Democrat Joe Sestak on Monday skipped what was to be a debate between the candidates for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Sestak, citing a scheduling conflict, instead attended a fundraiser in Pittsburgh with Sen. John Kerry and his wife, Teresa Heinz.
Lest one think that this was some minor event that had been squeezed into the schedule, the debate brought former ABC host Ted Koppel out of retirement as moderator. Instead of getting a debate, Koppel instead held a very public interview with Republican nominee Pat Toomey on spending, taxes, and other issues, as Toomey held forth on his fiscal-conservative agenda. Toomey wound up with a lengthy informercial and a big PR victory.
WHTM, the ABC affiliate, reports the situation rather politely, but outgoing Governor Ed Rendell wasn’t happy about Sestak’s forfeit:
Without debate, Sestak missed an opportunity to take on Toomey directly. The Democrat is trailing in the polls and considered the underdog in the race. Even fellow Democrat, Gov. Ed Rendell, conceded Sestak’s absence was a mistake.
“I think it’s important for all of our candidates to participate in all of the different debates,” Rendell said. “And the Chamber certainly has had a history of debates. I attended the Chamber debate both times I ran for governor.”
Shorter Rendell: I had more testicular fortitude.
Perhaps WHTM is just a little too polite. Saying that Sestak “missed an opportunity” makes it sound as though his car had a flat tire and AAA didn’t get there in time. Sestak ran away from an opportunity to engage Toomey directly, apparently afraid of what would happen. Either that, or he prefers the company of John Kerry over that of his fellow Pennsylvanians, and fundraising to accountability and intellectual engagement.
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