Gottheimer and Garrett find no common ground on debates

Read on Politico here.
By Matt Friedman
08/24/2016 03:22 PM EDT
Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett and Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer, who are running in the most closely watched election in New Jersey this year, have both agreed to participate in debates.
But not the same debates.
Garrett says he’ll participate in two debates with Gottheimer. But that’s less than the five debates Gottheimer had sought in a letter to Garrett in June.
One of the debates Garrett agreed to would be on a radio station that doesn’t cover the most populous portion of the 5thDistrict, and the other would be hosted by a politically conservative rabbi who stoked outrage by downplaying the issue of college campus rape.
According to the Garrett campaign, the congressman has accepted an invitation from the Warren-County based WRNJ Radio, which covers parts of northwest New Jersey – the most conservative portion of the 5th Congressional District. The Garrett campaign did not say what date the debate is scheduled for.
The station does not cover all of Bergen County, which is home to roughly 70 percent of the district’s voters. However, Garrett spokeswoman Erica Elliott said the debate will be live streamed online.
But Gottheimer said he hasn’t received a debate invitation from WRNJ.
Gottheimer’s campaign said Wednesday that the Democrat has accepted three debates in more traditional and neutral forums, with the League of Women Voters, at Fairleigh Dickinson University and at the Fair Lawn Jewish Center.
Garrett, meanwhile, said he also accepted a debate invitation from Rabbi Steven Pruzansky at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck, which is in Bergen County.
Pruzansky, who bemoaned that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost in 2012 because “it is impossible to compete against free stuff” and who hosted a town hall with Garrett in which they both condemned the Obama administration’s Iran deal, is a controversial figure.
An orthodox Jewish women’s group in April called for Pruzansky to withdraw from a conference over a blog post in which he wrote, “There have even been occasions when the woman who later claimed she was ‘raped’ spent the night, or several nights thereafter, with her beau, only to realize weeks later after their breakup that she had been assaulted.”
Gottheimer’s campaign said it received an invitation for the October 27 Pruzansky debate on Tuesday night, and that it had already accepted a debate for the same date hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Gottheimer’s campaign said the Fair Lawn Jewish Center debate would take place on September 19, while the Fairleigh Dickinson University debate’s date has yet to be determined.
In a statement, Garrett’s campaign said the two debates he’s accepted “will be a great opportunity for voters in the Fifth District to hear directly from the candidates about each of their ideas.”
“That is if Josh Gottheimer has any ideas of his own,” the campaign added. “So far, Josh Gottheimer has only demonstrated his abilities as a liar about Scott Garrett and an apologist for Hillary Clinton.”
Gottheimer’s campaign said in a statement that Garrett has developed “a pattern of only debating in forums that are organized and driven by his own supporters and those who share his views.”
“We hope that this year the Congressman will agree to debates conducted by neutral parties,” the statement said.
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