(This is a follow-up on lowkell’s earlier post about Robert Hurt’s ridiculous debate change of heart. I just want to rub it in.)
According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress Robert Hurt, the Republican challenger to Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th), has changed his mind and refuses to participate in any candidate debate in which tea partier and independent 5th district candidate Jeffrey Clark participates. (Hurt was willing to debate Clark during their primary fight, however.)
In a written statement, Hurt said, “We cannot allow the important debate in this election to be sidetracked by a candidate who is not serious about his campaign or his ability to win.” Unfortunately for Hurt, it was just last Saturday that he told the Daily Progress that he was “absolutely” willing to appear at three-candidate debates that featured himself, Rep. Tom Perriello, and Clark. Before his mighty flip flop, Hurt said,
“We need to work out all of the details, but debates are a very, very important part of elections and obviously we want to make ourselves available to all of the citizens who will be judging us and we’re committed to doing that but obviously we have the details to work out. We haven’t talked with the Perriello campaign – I don’t think – about what they’re interested in.”
Now, he’s saying the opposite, a position that has allowed both Tom Perriello and Clark to attack him at will. I love it!
It didn’t take long for Tom Perriello’s campaign manager Lise Clavel to say, “Sen. Hurt could not get the majority support of his own party and now wants to silence independent voices that reflect many in this district, including many views of the Tea Party. Tom Perriello faced hundreds of Tea Party constituents during his 21 town hall meetings last summer. If Sen. Hurt wants this job so badly, why is he afraid to face just one?”
Jeffrey Clark also went on the attack. “Sen. Hurt will try to marginalize us every step of the way. If we’re allowed in the debate, it makes the whole dynamic a whole lot murkier for him.”
You bet Hurt will try to “marginalize” Clark. This is the same Jeffrey Clark who said during the Republican primary that he would rather see Tom Perriello get another term than to help elect Robert Hurt, whom Clark called a false conservative.
Clark has the potential to peel off anywhere from 2-10% of the vote in the 5th district. That puts Hurt in an impossible position. If he attacks Clark and refuses to debate him, he will alienate the wacko-wing that the Republican Party manipulated last summer in their fight against health care reform. Yet, if he allows Clark a debate venue for airing his far right views, Hurt also stands to lose votes because of the free advertising such a debate gives Clark.
Meanwhile, Tom Perriello gets to release statesman-like pronouncements like the one that cited Robert Hurt’s first debate position – before Hurt started flipping and flopping:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first 18 months in Congress, it’s that there are a whole lot of opinions across our district. Some of these viewpoints are represented by Sen. Hurt and some by Mr. Clark, and I look forward to a substantive, honest campaign that brings these discussions more clearly into the public arena. I strongly agree with Sen. Hurt that Mr. Clark should be included in public debates and I look forward to a spirited discussion with both of them.”
Robert Hurt may as well get used to flip flops. His career in the state senate has been one of fairly typical (i.e. not extreme) conservatism. However, in the district’s recent Republican primary, he was forced to portray himself as just as far to the right as the others vying for the nomination. Now, looking to the election, he faces voters who are not extreme or fringe, so he is trapped into moderating some of the positions that he took then.
And…Clark will be right there in the fight, reminding those in the district who long once more for good ole Virgil Goode that “Hurt ain’t Virgil.”
I hope that same dilemma plays out all over the nation in November. The Republicans prayed for something to rescue them after the November 2008 election. They got the tea partiers and the undercover racists and then crawled into bed with them.
There’s an old saying, “Beware of what you pray for because you just might get it.”