Ken Cuccinelli has been trying very hard to generate the false rumor that Terry McAuliffe doesn’t want to debate. It is patently false, but Cuccinelli can’t be accused of patently lying because he can always say that by accusing McAuliffe of “Dodging Debates”, he’s only referring to unusual fifteen debate schedule that McAuliffe refuses to play along with, not the traditional five debate schedule that McAuliffe has already agreed to. Cuccinelli doesn’t mention those five debates when he accuses McAuliffe of dodging. Says Cuccinelli:
Since my opponent threatened to walk away from the only debate scheduled, and refuses to engage in other debates across the Commonwealth […]
As the Louden Times well summarizes:
[..] the Cuccinelli camp has persistently charged that the Democrat McAuliffe refuses to accept these debates.
But the Republican campaign has avoided mentioning that in early April, more than a month before Cuccinelli officially became the GOP nominee, McAuliffe’s campaign announced the debates its candidate will be participating in.
While debates are in important way to confront candidates with tough questions and to give voters a chance to compare the contenders side-by-side, debates are also a way to emphasize one-liners and jabs rather than substance, and a way to slip in false or misleading statements in highly televised settings which will reach more low-information voters than the analytic articles which follow. Ken Cuccinelli seems to feel that his strength is in one-liners, jabs, and misleading statements.
Debates also take time away from other campaign functions, such as connecting with supporters. That’s less of a problem for a campaign which hopes to be funded by energy companies and Koch Industries, rather than Firefighters and Teachers.
Challenging McAuliffe to an intensive debate schedule, reminiscent of the comedy tour the Republican presidential primary candidates treated us to in 2011 and 2012, is a win-win for Cuccinelli. Either he prevents his opponent from reaching out to supporters and running a substantive campaign, or he accuses his opponent of being afraid to debate. Thoughtful voters should see through this dishonest tactic.