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Political veterans say debate could benefit Reynolds, Hubbell

JOHNSTON ? Two veterans of Iowa political campaigns agreed that both Gov. Kim Reynolds and her Democratic challenger, Fred Hubbell, could benefit from debates, but disagreed on the likelihood of that happening.


Bonnie Campbell and Doug Gross, former Democratic and Republican gubernatorial nominees, respectively, say the current nominees need the opportunity to speak directly to voters, especially those who haven?t made up their minds, to share their vision of Iowa?s future.


?I think there will be three debates. We?ve always had three debates in Iowa for gubernatorial candidates,? said Gross, who challenged Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2002. ?I think the public expects that.?


When the campaigns ?get done with this to-ing and fro-ing,? there will be three debates, Gross predicted Friday during taping of ?Iowa Press,? which can be seem at 7:30 p.m. Friday on Iowa Public Television. So far, the campaigns of Reynolds and Hubbell have agreed to six debates, but not the same six.


The one invitation both camps have accepted is Oct. 17 in Sioux City. However, that debate appears to hinge on whether Libertarian nominee Jake Porter will be included.


Campbell, who challenged Gov. Terry Branstad in 1994, and Gross agreed that Hubbell, who has never run for office, probably wants to debate to elevate his profile among voters.


?He wants to make sure that people get to know him in a session where they are talking about issues,? Gross said. ?That?s better than talking about Younkers.?


Hubbell?s record as CEO of the now shuttered department store chain has been the focus of ads by the Reynolds? campaign.


Campbell, who said that before this year she had twice tried to convince Hubbell to run for governor, predicted there will be at least one debate.


However, she suggested that for strategic reasons Reynolds does not want to debate.


?Theoretically, as an incumbent, people are more familiar with you, know your name,? she said. ?If you have to debate, you have to give that other guy a stage with you.


 


?So I hope there?s at least one. I?d be surprised if there?s three or maybe even two,? Campbell said.


 


Campbell and Gross agreed that Hubbell and Reynolds are fighting for a fraction of the electorate that has not made up their minds.


 


?You got 40 percent in one camp and 40 percent in the other camp,? Gross said. The remaining 20 percent ?are not really high-information voters, who aren?t paying a lot of attention. But, at the end of the day, they?re going to want to know something about both of these people. So debates would benefit both of them.?


 


That 20 percent may be older voters who are likely to vote, Campbell said, and ?they would watch, (debates) would have meaning for them.?


 


If a candidate looks good and doesn?t make any mistakes, debating helps, she said. But there?s a risk ?if you do make a mistake, they don?t like the way you look and there is something about you they just don?t like.?


 


?Hopefully, there?s more to running for governor than just avoiding mistakes,? Gross said. ?If you want to lead this state, you need to be able to talk to the state, and they need to be able to stand looking at you in their living room. And a debate is a good way to test that.?


 


?Iowa Press? also can be seen at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on IPTV World, at noon Sunday on IPTV and online at IPTV.org.