JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - With the clock to election day ticking down, the push for a debate is ramping up.
Debates were scheduled but canceled for the Senate special election. One of those scheduled debates was with WLBT and the Clarion Ledger.
Cindy Hyde-Smith said she wouldn’t participate if she had to be in Washington and Mike Espy said he wouldn’t debate without Hyde-Smith.
Now, there’s a change. The Senate recessed early.
The one candidate not jumping at the ready to step on a debate stage, Cindy Hyde-Smith.
“Nobody’s scared of a debate here, I assure you,” said Hyde-Smith Saturday.
But when asked for comment Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the campaign sent this statement.
“Obviously, Chris McDaniel is running out of time, running out of money and now he’s just trying to garner free publicity, but we are just not going to give him a platform to continue spouting lies about Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith," said Melissa Scallan, spokeswoman for the campaign.
It falls in line with a video that was shot when Hyde-Smith was approached by a woman, who asked why she wasn’t debating, at a meet and greet over the weekend.
“Right now, my opponent does not have enough money to get on TV and my guys are saying that’s like handing him a $200,000 campaign donation because he’s way down in the polls,” Hyde-Smith is heard saying to the woman.
“If I’m the bad guy she paints me as, stand and debate me, talk about the issues," McDaniel responded. "Don’t hide from me. Don’t hide from the people of Mississippi. You’re supposed to work for us. Not the other way around.”
Candidate Mike Espy was asked what he thought of the response received from Hyde-Smith’s campaign.
“It’s not a good enough reason," he said. "I mean, there are always untrue things said about candidates. I know that untrue things have been said about me. But we’ve got to stand on the stage and rebut those things if they’re untrue, then tell what the truth would be.”
Espy is taking his request a step further.
“I simply sent a letter to her campaign this morning, pointing out that the Senate is in recess and the reason she gave for not debating is not longer viable” added Espy.
Hyde-Smith’s campaign says she will instead focus on an “18-day statewide bus tour for one-one-one campaigning to discuss the key issues that matter most."
“This is a job interview," noted McDaniel. "She’s never been elected. She was appointed. Stand here, debate, answer questions in front of the people of Mississippi.”
Espy noted he’d like to see the serious candidates all participate in the debate and referenced those who have filed fundraising details with the FEC. That’s something he is touting after receiving finalized numbers that show he raised more in the third quarter than his opponents.