Childers encourages Senate debates

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Travis Childers reissued his challenge to Republican incumbent Thad Cochran for a series of face-to-face debates before the Nov. 4 election. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Travis Childers reissued his challenge to Republican incumbent Thad Cochran for a series of face-to-face debates before the Nov. 4 election. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Travis Childers of Booneville, Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, reiterated Thursday his belief that Mississippians need to hear him and six-term incumbent Thad Cochran debate the issues.

Speaking outside the Mississippi College School of Law, which has offered to host a debate, Childers said the people of the state deserve a chance to hear the differences between the two candidates in a one-on-one debate before the Nov. 4general election.

“Today there are too many serious issues facing the state and the country,” said Childers, former 1st District U.S. House member and former Prentiss County chancery clerk. “People deserve answers. I am ready.”

Childers said the University of Mississippi Overby Center School of Journalism and Politics and the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast campus also have “expressed interest” in hosting debates. The Overby Center issued an invitation to the candidates 45 days ago. Childers already has accepted, his campaign said.

Those locations, along with a fourth debate in the Delta, would give voters from all regions of the state an opportunity to hear from the candidates, Childers reasoned.

“Neglecting to acknowledge this opportunity to debate is neglecting to acknowledge the voters of Mississippi,” Childers said.

Childers said he would be accommodating in working out the details of the debates with Cochran.

Jordan Russell, a Cochran spokesman, when asked about possible debates, said, “Senator Cochran keeps a very busy schedule representing Mississippians in the U.S. Senate as well as campaigning, just as he has done in 42 different counties over the past few weeks. Obviously, it’s not up to one candidate to dictate the other candidate’s schedule and I’m sure everyone understands that.

“We receive many scheduling requests and will consider all requests as we make scheduling decisions during the campaign.”

Childers said Cochran cannot avoid debating as he did in the Republican primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who has yet to give up a legal challenge to his loss to the incumbent in the June 24 Republican primary runoff.

At the time Cochran said in an interview he was not debating McDaniel because he was “a wild man” running “an unpredictable campaign.”

Referring to the “bitter” Republican primary, Childers said, “I believe the people of Mississippi are tired of hearing the candidates talk about each other. I believe they are ready to hear the candidates’ views on the issues that face the state and nation.”

Childers said there are many differences.

Childers cited, for instance, his support of raising the minimum wage to “a livable wage.”

Childers is considered an underdog against the veteran Cochran. But in response to a media question, Childers said he was “appreciative” of McDaniel supporters who have indicated they would vote for him in the general election.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com