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PostSubject: Perry Ignites Discussion Over Debates He May Skip   Perry Ignites Discussion Over Debates He May Skip I_icon_minitimeFri 28 Oct - 4:04

Gov. Rick Perry’s suggestion that he might skip some of the Republican presidential debates has raised a question that few candidates would eagerly bring up: Are there too many of them?

The eight televised gatherings so far have overshadowed more traditional campaigning in the 2012 primary contest, driving poll numbers and fund-raising up or down.
Perry Ignites Discussion Over Debates He May Skip DEBATEBOX-articleLarge
But Mr. Perry’s strategists said this week that future debates — more than wholesale jerseys a dozen in the next 90 days — would conflict with his campaign schedule. Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, has called his participation in previous debates “a mistake.” And his aides have strongly hinted that he will not participate in many more.

“The candidates need to spend time in Iowa doing those town halls and spending a lot more time with the voters, who oftentimes have the best questions and press the candidates the hardest,” Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for Mr. Perry, said on CNN.

The decision is a recognition that the debates have been mostly unkind to Mr. Perry, whose lackluster performances have dragged his campaign down. But it is also a commentary on the broadcast and cable networks’ explosion of interest in the forums. They are relatively inexpensive to produce, and with slick opening sequences and theme songs that would be right at home at professional basketball games, they have earned much higher ratings than they did four years ago.

For some candidates, though, the debates are a huge intrusion. They require preparation and travel, which interrupts fund-raising and keeps the candidates away from the handshaking and stumping in the states that matter now: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida. cheap mlb jerseys And every debate offers the risk of a costly political mistake.

Mitt Romney’s advisers declined to discuss their strategy regarding debates. But Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, may, like Mr. Perry, decide that news organizations should not be able to determine so much of his schedule.

In the space of a single week in November, for example, three debates are planned: first in Michigan, then in South Carolina three days later and in Washington, D.C., three days after that.

There are also three debates in a 10-day stretch in December. And in nfl jerseys cheap January, candidates are being asked to participate in an ABC News debate on a Saturday night, only to wake up the next morning for a “Meet the Press” debate on NBC. The New Hampshire primary is two days later.

“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates,” Mr. Perry told Bill O’Reilly on Fox News on Tuesday. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing” a debate.

When running for re-election last year, Mr. Perry managed to avoid debating his Democratic rival, Bill White, by refusing to set a date until Mr. White, a former mayor of Houston, released more financial information. Mr. White accused Mr. Perry of being afraid to debate.

In the presidential campaign, Mr. Perry has begun to lay the groundwork for a jerseys wholesale similar back and forth. He has asked Mr. Romney to release his personal tax returns, something that Mr. Romney has not done.

Asked whether Mr. Perry might refuse to debate until Mr. Romney releases his returns, Mark Miner, a spokesman, declined to say. “Debates are not the issue here,” he said. “Mitt Romney should follow Governor Perry’s lead and release his tax returns. What does he have to hide?”

Skipping debates could come at a steep political cost. By refusing to participate now — after being criticized for his previous performances — Mr. Perry opens himself to charges that he is trying to avoid them.

“I thought Texas governors were supposed to be tough,” said Hogan Gidley, a senior adviser to Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania. “How can Governor Perry expect anyone to trust he can take on Obama and the Democratic machine when he thinks debating his fellow Republicans is too tough?”

Erick Erickson, the editor of the Red State blog, wrote on Twitter that he did not “blame any of the candidates for wanting to skip some of the debates, but if Perry skips the Heritage/A.E.I. debate, game over,” referring to the conservative public policy groups the cheap jerseys Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, whose debate is Nov. 15.

A spokeswoman for Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said the congresswoman had “no plans” to skip any debates. “While they present challenges in terms of scheduling, debates are an important part of the primary process,” said Alice Stewart, the spokeswoman.

For candidates like Ms. Bachmann and Mr. Santorum, the debates are a rare opportunity to reach a national audience, especially because they — and Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker — do not have money for television advertisements.

Two candidates — Herman Cain, the former pizza executive, and Representative Ron Paul of Texas — have used their podium time to elbow their way into the political fight between Mr. Romney and Mr. Perry. Mr. Cain remains at the top of many national polls after his debate performances, which he has used to promote his “9-9-9” tax plan.

But even for them, the current schedule is grueling. And it seems to be getting worse, with the regular addition of new dates.

In the spring, the Republican National Committee floated the idea of stepping in to manage the process. Under that proposal, the committee would have picked dates — one a month — for debates sponsored by the news media. But the idea was rejected by representatives of candidates who were considering the race.

As for the television networks, they continue to plan and cross their fingers. “The candidates are aware of our two debates planned for January 2012, and the reach of the NBC broadcast audience,” said Erika Masonhall, the director of NBC News communications. “We feel confident in our plans.”
Trip Gabriel and Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting from New York.
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