Candidates in standoff over debate debacle in 12th District

Elections 2012 WRDW
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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The race for Georgia's 12th congressional seat is heating up as both candidates are calling each other out.

Republican challenger Lee Anderson is currently refusing to debate Democratic incumbent John Barrow until Barrow does something Anderson wants.

"Until John Barrow gets in front of a camera and says who he's voting for, we won't debate him," said Anderson campaign Spokesman Ryan Mahoney. "We don't think that he deserves another platform to deceive voters."

Barrow's staff cited three separate Georgia newspaper articles in which Barrow says he'll support Barack Obama for president. Anderson's staff says that's not sufficient.

"[Barrow] continues to kind of duck and dive and dodge the question, and the more the media asks, the more crazy answers that he comes up with," Mahoney said. "It's a very simple, straightforward request."

Barrow contends it is no secret, and he'd be more than happy to answer Anderson's question in a debate.

Barrow couldn't go on camera with News 12 citing voting week in Washington, D.C., however, he did release a statement saying:
"Lee Anderson insists on making devastating cuts to Medicare, while raising taxes on 80 percent of hardworking Georgia families, yet he doesn't have the decency to explain his positions to folks in the 12th District. I'm not interested in playing these political games. I'll be at the debates within the district, and I'm happy to answer this question again or any other question my opponent might bring. I hope Lee will reconsider."

Anderson's staff says that simply isn't true.

"John Barrow is completely dishonest, so if he won't tell you the answer or if he won't tell the local media the answer, he's not going to tell Lee the answer on stage," Mahoney said.

Anderson's staff says Barrow has declined debates prior to a general election, too.

In response, a spokesperson for Barrow says during the last election cycle, Barrow missed a debate because it conflicted with three separate meetings on veterans' issues, something the congressman takes seriously.

He added in this election, Barrow's agreed to multiple debates, while Anderson hasn't agreed to any.

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