One 1st District debate scrapped, one still on

TUPELO – This week’s cancellation of plans for a congressional debate prompted harsh criticism from the Democratic camp and leaves voters just one more chance to see candidates face off before Nov. 2.
AARP Mississippi on Tuesday scrapped its efforts to stage an Oct. 8 debate at the Link Centre between Democratic incumbent Travis Childers and his Republican challenger Alan Nunnelee.
It was to be aired by WTVA.
Both candidates are vying for the 1st District seat for U.S. House of Representatives. They are joined by seven independent and third-party candidates.
Childers and Nunnelee will, however, appear together Oct. 12 at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, both sides confirmed.
AARP Mississippi spokeswoman Ronda Gooden cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for her event’s cancellation, but Childers used it as an opportunity to criticize his opponent.
Said Gooden: “We provided a date, time and location and invited both candidates and were never able to get a workable date on both the candidates’ schedules.”
Nunnelee’s campaign consultant said the debate wasn’t canceled; it was never scheduled.
“We told them from the first time they called that we had a conflict that date,” said Morgan Baldwin.
But Gooden said AARP had offered alternate dates and even proposed a tele-town hall conference where candidates could take questions by phone. It never worked out, she said.
Baldwin said Nunnelee’s schedule is packed solid: “We are booked up. He’s in every county and meeting with people.”
Childers, however, said his opponent’s inability to make time for AARP signals his lack of concern for older residents.
“Apparently Alan Nunnelee doesn’t feel like north Mississippians age 50 and above are important. They’re important to me,” Childers said in a press release.
Baldwin scoffed at the statement, saying Nunnelee supports senior citizens and values their contributions to the country.
“It’s kind of interesting that Congressman Childers, who won’t hold town hall meetings, is criticizing Sen. Nunnelee, who meets time and again in town hall meetings and who is working with the citizens of this district and talking to them.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal