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Blum makes 'final' debate proposal

Campaigns accuse each other of failing to negotiate

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CEDAR RAPIDS — U.S. House Rep. Rod Blum, who called for 10 debates with his Democratic challenger Monica Vernon, has now offered what his campaign called his “final debate compromise” — four debates.

The freshman Republican Friday proposed debates in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, the Cedar Valley and Marshalltown.

“This proposal is offered in the spirit of compromise, and we hope Mrs. Vernon accepts so that the citizens of the 1st District can hear for themselves where the two candidates stand,” said Blum spokesman Daniel Sunne.

Vernon campaign manager Michelle Gajewski called Blum’s debate offer a “political game (that) has gone on long enough.”

“We have worked with multiple organizers to schedule debates and Congressman Blum’s team has ignored every one of them,” she said. “He has yet to agree to a single proposed debate and he should be embarrassed by his constant lying to his constituents.”

The Blum campaign insisted that the number of debates has to be agreed to before individual debates can be scheduled. The Vernon campaign, it said, has not responded to the debate offers.

“We eagerly await the moment when (Blum) is ready to have a real conversation with our team to organize real debates,” Gajewski said.

Blum initially proposed 10 debates in June. The Vernon campaign said it would agree to two — the same number Blum and his opponent had in 2012. Blum then countered with six debates. Vernon continued to insist on two.

“This might be the first time in political history that a challenger who’s behind in the polls wants less debates than the incumbent,” Sunne said. He referred to a poll commissioned by the Blum campaign that showed him leading 50 percent to 43 percent. Vernon said she has a poll showing her leading.

For all of The Gazette's Election 2016 coverage, please visit our election coverage center.

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