A consortium of media outlets that had planned to sponsor the final US Senate debate abandoned the plan Tuesday, after Senator Scott Brown said he did not believe another debate was necessary and that he would not be able to reschedule the one that was canceled because of Hurricane Sandy.
Brown made that statement after insisting for days that he was eager for a final face-off with Elizabeth Warren.
On Friday he had said there was no way that Hurricane Sandy would prevent him from taking on Warren on Tuesday as scheduled.
“That’s why I have a truck,” Brown told WBZ-TV on Friday. “You know, it has four-wheel drive. If she needs a ride, I’m happy to pick her up, and I’ll be there, providing the electricity is on.”
Even Monday morning, when Massachusetts was under a state of emergency, Brown was resolute when speaking with reporters at the state’s emergency management bunker in Framingham.
“If it’s appropriate we’ll have it tomorrow,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “If not we’ll just do it the next day or the next day. Certainly we’re going to do it, I think the people want to hear where we stand on all the final issues, a couple of days before the election.”
But later that afternoon his campaign said he would not appear at the Tuesday debate, saying it was time to focus on storm recovery. While negotiations continued, and Warren agreed to a debate on Thursday, Brown ultimately said it was not logistically possible.
“With only days remaining in the campaign, and with a long-planned bus tour kicking off Thursday through Election Day that will take Scott Brown to every corner of the Commonwealth, our calendar simply cannot accommodate a rescheduling of this fourth debate and the planning and preparation that would go into it,” campaign manager Jim Barnett said in a statement Tuesday.
Warren’s campaign manager, Mindy Myers, accused Brown Tuesday night of dodging the debate. “Elizabeth was working with the debate organizers to move forward on Thursday. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Scott Brown is again ducking questions about his record,” she said in a statement Tuesday night.
The consortium hosting the debate, which includes the Globe, said it had offered multiple options to both campaigns.
“This is very disappointing for all the citizens who will not have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates a week before this important election,” said WGBH executive producer Linda Polach, who has been coordinating the effort for the consortium.
The debate was to be moderated by CNN reporter John King and broadcast on a number of local TV and radio stations. It was to be their fourth and final debate, and the first since an Oct. 10 forum .
It would have been the final opportunity for voters to see the candidates together, with the election less than a week away. A Globe poll released Monday found that 39 percent of voters had not seen the previous three debates between Brown, a Republican, and Warren, a Democrat.
Both candidates canceled campaign events on Tuesday, but continued to appear in public, assessing storm damage.
By Tuesday morning, Brown was sounding increasingly reluctant to reschedule, referring questions to his campaign.
Brown said that in addition to a scheduling conflict on Thursday, there was no need to debate Warren again. “I had two radio debates that she didn’t participate in, so people know where we stand on the issues and I’m going to continue to do my job,” Brown said.
Warren’s campaign said she had agreed to additional debates in Worcester, the South Coast, and a forum hosted by the NAACP that Brown had declined.
“My view is that the people of Massachusetts have a right to hear from the two candidates for this important Senate race, a right to hear from us face to face,” Warren said during a visit to Westport on Tuesday. “We’ve had three debates but everyone was counting on one more before the election. I think it’s important for the people of Massachusetts to hear directly from the candidates.”