If Hatch won’t show, Liljenquist will ‘debate’ cardboard cutoutMay 22, 2012
From: Salt Lake Tribune
By: Lee Davidson
Even though Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, continues to dodge challenges for televised debates, his Republican opponent, Dan Liljenquist, says he will debate Hatch next week — even if it is just a cardboard cutout of him, or an empty chair.
“We are going to have our own debates. And if Senator Hatch won’t show up, we’ll replay some of the answers he has given previously and we will debate his record for him, ” Liljenquist said Tuesday. He also launched a $125,000 television ad campaign attacking Hatch for avoiding debates.
Liljenquist said he is planning three or four such “debates” next week because he knows Hatch will be in Utah for campaign events during the Senate’s Memorial Day recess. Hatch has said that a busy Senate schedule is one reason he will not agree to more than one debate — and only on the radio — before the June 26 primary.
Dave Hansen, Hatch’s campaign manager, dismissed Liljenquist’s move as a gimmick. He said he doubts Hatch will participate in the “debates” because he already has “a very full schedule” of campaign events next week “and there are many ways of meeting with voters besides debates.”
Hansen derided the plan for a cutout or an empty chair representing Hatch, along with audio recordings of past statements he has made.
“As far as the recordings and the cardboard cutouts, these are gimmicks that have been tried before. And that’s all they are, gimmicks. If he wants to run a gimmick campaign, then fine, let him.”
But Holly Richardson, Liljenquist’s campaign manager, said Hatch in 1976 held “debates” with an absent primary opponent after he declined Hatch challenges. Also in 1986, former Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, debated a cardboard cutout of his Republican challenger, M. Tom Shimizu, to draw attention to how he had pulled out of debates after shaky early performances.