- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

The final televised debate between the two major-party candidates for Virginia governor never happened last night, and now the two campaigns are debating whether or not the debate was canceled or postponed.
Because of the U.S. attacks on targets in Afghanistan, the statewide network of television stations weren't going to be able to carry the debate from Roanoke as planned, so Larry Sabato, the debate's director and moderator, postponed it. He wants to reschedule for another evening under the same terms and with statewide television coverage, as does Republican Mark L. Earley.
But Democrat Mark R. Warner says he has only one open time slot Thursday at noon, when both candidates were already scheduled to be in Norfolk for a candidate forum. He has proposed turning that into a debate and trying to arrange television coverage.
"While our thoughts and prayers are with our military servicemen and women, it is important that the democratic process move forward. This is the last opportunity that would work, and we hope that the parties come together and agree to debate this Thursday in Norfolk," said Steve Jarding, Mr. Warner's campaign manager. Mr. Warner has said his schedule is filled between now and the Nov. 6 election.
Mr. Earley's campaign, though, said Mr. Warner agreed to the Roanoke debate and he is trying to take advantage of the situation.
"Less than two hours after [President Bush] took the nation to war, and Virginia ships and Virginia planes took part, he tried to take political advantage of it that's just wrong," said Ray Allen, an adviser to the Earley campaign.
The debate's fate is the latest in an ongoing tussle between the campaigns over the number and scope of debates. Even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, Mr. Earley had been trying to schedule a debate in late October. Mr. Warner agreed to four debates the same number as in past races.
The election is a month away, and yesterday's debate was to be the fourth and final debate, and the only one to be televised live across the state. Mr. Earley's campaign said Mr. Warner had initially wanted to go forward with the event last night, while Mr. Earley wanted to postpone it.
This is the second debate to have been affected by the attacks. A debate at George Mason University sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People scheduled for Sept. 17 was canceled in the week after the terrorist attacks.
To make up for that, the candidates took part in a debate hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University last Wednesday. The candidates also agreed to appear at a joint forum at the NAACP state convention Oct. 27.

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