Terry Branstad’s campaign announced today that it had accepted three invitations to debate Governor Chet Culver this fall:
1. Lee Enterprises/KCAU-TV/WQAD-TV Gubernatorial Debate. Time and date to be determined. Sioux City, IA
2. The Cedar Rapids Gazette/KCRG-TV 9 Gubernatorial Debate
Thursday, October 7, 2010, 7 p.m. Cedar Rapids, IA
3. Des Moines Register/Iowa Public Television Debate
October 21, 2010, Noon, Iowa Public Television Studios, Johnston, IA
Branstad’s running mate, Kim Reynolds, is also willing to debate Lieutenant Patty Judge once at a time and place to be determined. Maybe by then Reynolds will be able to explain how Republicans would have balanced the current-year budget without dipping into state reserves or using one-time federal funds.
I expect the lieutenant governor’s debate to be entertaining. Judge speaks with a lot of confidence. Reynolds is a polished speaker, but not when she gets knocked off her prepared talking points.
I expect Branstad to play it safe in the debates; he’s ahead in the polls and mainly needs to avoid any huge blunder. I look forward to watching him explain in Cedar Rapids why his own state bonding was justified, but not I-JOBS borrowing to rebuild after the largest floods in Iowa history.
If I were Culver, I would practice ways to get under Branstad’s skin the way Bob Vander Plaats did during the Republican primary debates. But that strategy can only work if Culver keeps his cool, which may be challenging given how freely Branstad lies about the incumbent’s record. Culver will have to find ways to refute phony Republican numbers without seeming to fly off the handle. A little humor might help.
AUGUST 24 UPDATE: The Sioux City debate will take place on September 14:
The Sioux City Journal and Lee Enterprises are hosting the debate with KCAU, the ABC affiliate here in the metro. The one-hour debate will air from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on KCAU, WOI in Des Moines and WHBF in the Quad Cities. Besides the Journal, other Lee papers participating include the Quad City Times, Waterloo Courier and Mason City Globe Gazette. To give instantaneous coverage, the papers will have a live webcast and running blog during the debate.