Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Scott Brown’s campaigns appear to be at a stalemate over an event that was originally proposed as a face-to-face debate by the state’s two largest chambers of commerce.
As the New Hampshire Journal first reported Monday night, the Manchester and Nashua chambers of commerce invited Shaheen and Brown to debate each other on Oct. 14 at Saint Anselm College. Prominent television journalist and author Mark Halperin, now of Bloomberg Media, was scheduled to moderate.
Brown accepted the debate format, but according to Nashua chamber CEO J. Christopher Williams, the Shaheen campaign declined, noting that she had already accepted three televised debates and another debate scheduled for Monday in Conway. Brown had accepted seven debate invitations in all.
Williams said the chambers then offered a revised format in which each candidate would appear on the same night on the same stage, but not at the same time – in a forum-style event.
Williams said the Shaheen camp accepted it.
The Brown campaign did not immediately accept – or reject – the chambers’ alternative proposal. It said Monday night it would keep pushing for a debate format.
But Tuesday afternoon, Williams told the Journal the Brown campaign rejected the “revised ‘forum’ format.”
In an email, Williams told the Journal:
“I received a call from the Brown campaign about two hours ago, informing me that their internal review process had not actually completed their vetting of our revised format and that, upon further review, they were not willing to commit to the revised ‘forum’ format. They remain committed to our original debate format, but will not accept the revised ‘forum’ format.”
Shortly before Williams made that comment, Brown’s campaign had said it would not accept the “forum” format and still wanted a face-to- face debate as originally proposed.
That prompted criticism of Brown from a prominent state Democrat.
“So typical of @SenScottBrown,” posted former NHDP chair Kathy Sullivan on Twitter, “either his way or the highway. Is he afraid to take questions from NH biz people?”
But the Brown campaign said it never had an issue with taking question from chamber leaders or business people.
“The issue here is that Jeanne Shaheen is too chicken to debate and unwilling to defend her record of voting with President Obama 99 percent of the time,” said a Brown adviser.
Also, as reported Monday, Williams said the change in format meant that Halperin would no longer be moderating the event and Bloomberg would no longer be a partner.
See our earlier report by clicking here.