Vermont GOP SOS candidates spar over public debate

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June 14, 2010

WILLISTON, Vermont: Although both Republican candidates vying for the party nomination in the race for Vermont Secretary of State started on friendly terms with each other, tempers are beginning to flare over the issue of public debates. A few days after Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Jason Gibbs launched his campaign, his sole challenger in the Republican primary contest, Chris Roy, offered him an invitation challenging him to a series of thirteen public debates, one for each week until the August 24 primary election.[1] Gibbs responded by saying that "he would be happy to debate as frequently as his campaign schedule allows, but added that he would prefer to have all the secretary of state candidates on stage with them for the debates."[2]

His primary opponent, however, has accused Gibbs of being less than honest with the voters of Vermont in his opinion about the issue of public debates.[3] In an email sent to supporters, Gibbs referred to the idea of public debates between him and primary challenger as "silliness" and argued that his "response to the debate question depended on the feedback he got from his supporters."[4] Roy says that Gibbs is engaging in typical political double-speak and, rather then making decisions himself, places the burden on his supporters as to whether or not he should be involved in something that would allow the voters "to see us together as we engage in a productive exchange of ideas."[3]

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