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Brown won’t debate Warren unless Kennedy’s widow stays silent

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:40 EDT
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Elizabeth Warren via Flickr
 
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Incumbent Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R) has tentatively agreed to debate his challenger, Harvard professor and former nominee to head the Consumer Protection Bureau, Democrat Elizabeth Warren, but only if certain conditions are met, according to the Boston Globe‘s Boston.com blog. Arguably, the most notable of these terms is that Vicki Kennedy, widow of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy (D) refrain from endorsing any candidate in the race. The other condition is that no cameras from MSNBC be allowed to film at the venue.

Brown has been notably hard to pin down on the topic of when, where and on what topics he and Warren will debate. Her team has reportedly attempted on multiple occasions to get Sen. Brown’s reps to sit down and discuss the terms of a match-up, but have repeatedly been rebuffed.

Now, the Brown campaign has announced in a press release that it will participate in a debate at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, but only on the condition that Vicki Kennedy not endorse himself or his opponent and as long as MSNBC is not included as a broadcast partner for the event. The press release requested that former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw act as the debate’s moderator.

Warren has already agreed to the debate, which is slated for September 27. The two candidates are currently scheduled for two televised debates and three radio meet-ups. Vicki Kennedy suggested the third debate and suggested MSNBC as the media sponsor. Kennedy has been active for many years as a Democrat in Massachusetts politics and MSNBC is perceived by many conservatives as having a liberal bias, in spite of the fact that former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough (R-FL) hosts a daily three hour show and conservative pundit S. E. Cupp has recently been offered a high profile position at the network.

The Kennedy Institute has not announced whether Kennedy will stay neutral, but has indicated that it looks forward to “discussing the terms of the debate in person with the Brown campaign and the ­Warren campaign.”

Brown’s campaign has declined to discuss logistical details until whether it knows that its conditions will be met. Should the Kennedy Institute not comply, Brown’s campaign spokesperson indicated by email to the Globe that Brown would consider a debate sponsored by a consortium of Boston media outlets, including the paper.

MSNBC said in a statement on Sunday that it has not agreed to broadcast the Brown-Warren debate, nor have they been asked.

UPDATE: The Kennedy Institute has announced that Vicki Kennedy is rejecting Brown’s condition that she not endorse a candidate in the race for her former husband’s senate seat.  ”This non-endorsement pledge is unprecedented and is not being required of any other persons or entities,” read a statement from the Institute, “To us, such a pledge seems inappropriate when a non-media sponsor issues a debate invitation. We can assure both campaigns that the debate will be fair, just as the one we cosponsored between Senator Brown and Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2010 was fair.”

The group said that it has made no decisions with regards to the event’s media sponsorship.

LATER UPDATE: Brown’s camp formally rejected an the debate following the Kennedy Institute’s statement. A statement sent to the media and attributed to campaign manager Jim Barrett read, “We respect Vicki Kennedy’s decision but we regret that we cannot accept a debate invitation from someone who plans to endorse Scott Brown’s opponent. The Kennedy Institute cannot hold itself out as a nonpartisan debate sponsor while the president of its board of trustees gets involved in the race on behalf of one of the candidates.” Kennedy, notably, has made no such announcement of her intent to endorse.

(image via Sharon Machlis Gartenberg at Flickr Commons)

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
 
 
 
 
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