Earlier this week, we learned that Heidi Heitkamp and Kevin Cramer have agreed to three debates in October. What has been left out of those reports is that Kevin Cramer has rejected participation in at least four other debates. For an individual who prides himself on accessibility and willingness to take on tough topics, this is a little surprising. We should ask why he declined.
A spokesperson for the Heitkamp campaign indicated Heitkamp had agreed to five more debates, but Cramer had rejected four of those. The fifth debate was agreed upon but scheduling is currently an issue for both candidates. To my knowledge, Heitkamp has not turned down a debate to date.
The debates Cramer has turned down are a bit interesting. A Prairie Public & AARP debate. Cramer agreed to one of the two offered. Perhaps limiting the debate to one hour instead of two also limits the amount of time Social Security and Medicare would be discussed. Cramer declined to a debate on the national Fox News channel. He also rejected a debate hosted by the Chamber of Commerce focused on agriculture. Defending tariffs might not have been ideal for his candidacy. Lastly, he declined a debate on statewide radio with KFGO. Typically, those debates are moderated by journalists. On-air personalities are not involved so any excuse of perceived bias would be nonsense. Full disclosure: I host a radio show on KFGO in the afternoon on weekdays.
So what gives? Why avoid these debates with your opponent? It certainly wouldn’t be the same as going on friendly talk shows every week. But Cramer hasn’t exactly been one to shy away from talking politics regardless of who is asking the questions. Until now. Why?
Today, another Cramer campaign ad began to air. It is a minute of President Trump’s endorsement of Cramer combined with his usual swipe at Democrats. Another negative ad lacking accomplishments of Cramer’s tenure in Washington. Perhaps it is proving difficult to discover those accomplishments which leads him to shy away from true debates. Quite simply, it makes a person wonder if he is afraid of debating Heitkamp and speaking about his record?