Posted: September 10, 2007 4:20 PM
Huckabee Challenges Thompson to Debate
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee welcomed former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson to the primary race last week by challenging him to a one-on-one debate.
“I am aware of your comments on Fox News that you would like to participate in a series of Lincoln-Douglas-styled debates,” Huckabee wrote Thompson in a letter dated Sept. 7. “I would like to officially accept your offer.”
The letter came two days after Thompson announced his candidacy on the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” — the same night the other eight Republican candidates participated in a debate in Durham, N.H. Thompson declined to join them, criticizing the larger format as too cumbersome and “not that enlightening a forum.”
In a teleconference with reporters the following morning, Huckabee criticized Thompson’s decision not to participate. “People will wonder if he had the stuff to stand on the stage with the rest of us. He will have to answer the question of what part of that debate he didn’t want to be part of. Often it is not the game, but the person.”
But the former Arkansas governor also added his own criticism of the debate format, saying moderators had spent too little time on key issues such as health care, education, repairing the nation’s roads and bridges, or energy — and too much on foreign policy. “My major concern is that coming debates will talk about more than Iraq,” he said.
As if to punctuate his concern, after addressing 1,200 members of the AARP in Boston Friday, Huckabee became the first Republican candidate to agree to participate in the group’s nationally televised forum in October moderated by NewsHour correspondent Judy Woodruff to discuss the nation’s top domestic issues.