Much like it takes real chutzpah to slander on the internet, it takes an equal share to wholesale reverse course on your own actions during a campaign.
By all accounts, last week was an unmitigated disaster for Georgia Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn, seen by many Democrats as their best shot for picking up a seat in 2014, but more on that later.
A campaign memo laced with controversy leaked and became the foil for a deluge of negative headlines in Georgia and across the country. By the end of the week an attack ad was out on the memo, which included such gems as declaring her position on Israel as “TBD,” planning to raise more money from out of state than in, and admitting a pledge to decry outside dollars was little more than a cheap pop for fundraising.
You can’t make it up when you say that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Her campaign also listed “rural issues” dead last on the priority list, despite the Peach State’s number one industry being agriculture, and concern was expressed over Points of Light (of which Nunn served as CEO) having validated a charity banned from working in Israel due its ties to Hamas.
As if all of this weren’t enough, a poll last week showed her trailing Republican nominee David Perdue by 9 points and 538 pegged his chances of victory in November at 75 percent. That followed The Washington Post’s even more brutal surmising that Nunn stands a 2 percent chance of an upset.
Point being – you get why she’d want to change the subject. And (sought) to change it, she did.
At the end of the week, Nunn challenged Perdue to a series of 5 debates over the course of the fall campaign.
“Debates are going to be an important part of this race,” she said. “I welcome the chance to engage in these dialogues.”
Sounds all well and good. The only thing is that Nunn’s past record on debates is about as far removed from this kind of rhetoric as it gets.
Over the course of her own Democratic primary, Nunn repeatedly refused to debate a field of unknown and underfunded rivals. Here’s a barrage of greatest hits, or something:
“[Georgia voters] They’re tired of hearing people, you know, politicians debate among themselves.” –Michelle Nunn.
“All were present, save probable nominee Michelle Nunn…an empty chair was left on stage to remind the audience of her absence.” (Georgia Tipsheet)
“She didn’t see fit to come to Columbus for a regionally televised debate. But in a strange move, she was here a week before the debate at the Whitewater Express office right next door to the Columbus State University theater where the debate took place. Her people were trying to get coverage for that and other Columbus events. But then she ducks the debate where she and her handlers can’t control the questions or environment. That is insulting.” (Chuck Williams, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.)
Michelle Nunn didn’t want to debate before she wanted to debate. She even sought to drive coverage to an event in the same town as a debate the week before, but decided against making a return appearance guaranteed to have media present.
As for that event where the empty chair found its way to the spotlight, where was Nunn? In DC, raising money from national Democratic power brokers.
“I welcome the chance to engage in these dialogues.”
Also, small side point - David Perdue participated in more debates in one month of the GOP primary than Michelle Nunn has over the course of her entire campaign.