Wow: Denver CBS News Affiliate Torches Democratic Senator for Dodging Debates

Posted: Sep 12, 2014 10:47 AM

Recent polling suggests that Democratic incumbent Mark Udall holds a narrow lead over Republican Cory Gardner in Colorado's US Senate race.  But the race is firmly in the 'toss-up' catregory; President Obama is deeply unpopular in the state, and Gardner is running a strong, disciplined campaign.  When the two nominees met up for an in-person (un-televised) debate last weekend, neutral observers chalked the exchange up as a Gardner win.  Udall's performance was characterized by long, awkward pauses and statements for which he was later forced to apologize.  Perhaps it's no wonder, then, that Udall has decided that his schedule won't allow for a televised debate on any of Colorado's major network affiliates. Denver's CBS News affiliate took Udall to the woodshed for this 'duck and cover' strategy in a remarkably unsparing on-air segment.  Words, not minced:

"For the first time in CBS 4 history, an incumbent US Senator has declined to debate his opponent live on our air. In fact, Sen. Mark Udall is not doing a debate on any of the four major network television stations...

As correspondent Shaun Boyd points out in the package, Team Udall sent a brash letter to the Gardner campaign in June, challenging the Republican to "a series of open and honest debates."  Gardner was perplexed at the time, since he'd accepted virtually every debate invitation he'd received.  Now Udall wants to limit the number of those "open and honest" forums, and is working to ensure that as few voters see them as possible. Other vulnerable Democrats are adopting a similar approach.  New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen has scrupulously avoided holding open town hall meetings (a Granite State staple), and North Carolina's Kay Hagan is bowing out of major debates (she did poorly in her first meeting with Republican Thom Tillis; the GOP is now hammering her for dodging debates, a criticism she successfully leveled against her GOP opponent in 2008).  Perhaps these Senators would prefer not to be challenged over their lock-step pro-Obama voting records, or their false promises on Obamacare.  For instance, all of them vowed that consumers could keep their preferred plans -- a pledge that was rated the 2013 "lie of the year" by left-leaning Politifact. Their subsequent attempts at spin and revisionism fall far short of credibility.  Millions of Americans have been stripped of their existing coverage, with millions more to come. This has become an especially hot issue in Colorado after it was revealed that Udall's staff pressured state employees to fudge and hide the cancellation numbers, which continue to swell.  Here's the latest hit in Virginia, where Sen. Mark Warner eagerly joined in on the "keep your plan" fib: