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Sen. Orrin Hatch said Wednesday he will debate Democratic challenger Scott Howell twice before the Nov. 6 election but Howell's campaign says that is too little and still seeks more debates.
"That's it. There won't be any more," said Dave Hansen, Hatch's campaign manager.
That comes after Howell complained repeatedly that Hatch has been ducking debates, and skipped some early ones where Howell and minor candidates appeared and even debated an empty chair with Hatch's nameplate on it.
Hatch issued a press release Wednesday saying he agreed to a TV debate on Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. for simulcast on KBYU Channel 11, KUED Channel 7, and KUEN Channel 9. It will be moderated by Brigham Young University political scientist David Magleby, and hosted by Ken Verdoia of KUED. Hansen said plans call for a studio audience of about 200 people to be selected by KBYU.
The second debate is scheduled for the Doug Wright Show on KSL Radio (AM 1160 and FM 102.7) on Oct. 26 at 9 a.m.
Emily Hollingshead, campaign manager for Howell, said those two debates "are good as a starting point, but obviously we would like to see a lot more." She said Howell especially had been pushing Hatch to attend an Oct. 30 debate at the University of Utah to allow a large public audience to attend.
She noted that in 1976 when Hatch was challenging incumbent Sen. Frank Moss, D-Utah, "He challenged Senator Moss to eight debates. We've got two."
Hansen responded "There are many ways to communicate with voters, and debates are only one of them. This is what fits in our schedule."
"I look forward to discussing the issues that matter most to voters," Hatch said in a press release. "I have spent the duration of this campaign meeting and talking with constituents in every county in the state and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the broader audiences" of the broadcast debates.
Hatch was also attacked constantly during the GOP primary by Republican rival Dan Liljenquist for avoiding all but one radio debate with him then. Hatch won that primary with 66 percent of the vote.