- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Democratic candidate Mark R. Warner agreed last night to reschedule Sunday's debate, which was called off because of the U.S. attacks on targets in Afghanistan. It will be held tomorrow night.
The rescheduled debate will still take place in Roanoke and will follow the same format and have the same television coverage that Sunday night's debate would have had. Mr. Warner will go face-to-face with Republican Mark L. Earley for one hour, in a debate moderated by University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato.
Amanda Crumley, a spokeswoman for Mr. Warner, said he agreed to reschedule the debate for tomorrow after Mr. Earley rejected their counter-proposal to turn a joint appearance in Norfolk at midday Thursday into a debate.
By agreeing to the debate, Mr. Warner heads off what was brewing to be a nasty debate over the debates.
Yesterday afternoon, Richard Cullen, Mr. Earley's campaign chairman, held a telephone news conference challenging Mr. Warner to live up to his obligation to the organizers of the Roanoke debate and, in essence, calling him out.
"Am I saying that he's too scared to debate on prime-time, live TV? Sadly, I'm afraid he is," Mr. Cullen said. He said he figured Mr. Warner was scared because of his performance in the previous three debates and particularly in last week's debate in Richmond, where moderator and former Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder as much as called Mr. Warner unresponsive to questions.
Steve Jarding, Mr. Warner's campaign manager, responded by accusing Mr. Earley of ducking a proposal for a new debate in Norfolk on Thursday instead.
"They seem far more occupied with debating debates than they do actually participating in them," he said.
Earlier, Mr. Warner's campaign had said his schedule was booked between now and the Nov. 6 election. In the hours after Sunday's debate was canceled, Mr. Jarding released a statement saying the Thursday proposal was the last possible substitute.
But yesterday afternoon, the campaign said it was willing to work with the Roanoke debate's organizers, and by yesterday evening had agreed to the new debate terms offered by the debate organizers the Capitol Correspondents Association and Mr. Sabato.
Ever since the Sunday debate was canceled, Mr. Earley had said he would go along with whatever the organizers of the Roanoke debate decided to do about rescheduling, and he said Mr. Warner was obligated to do the same.
Republicans wanted a live, prime-time debate aired across the state because they think Mr. Earley will outperform Mr. Warner and they believe he can sway voters that way.
But Mr. Earley trails in the polls, and it's traditional for the candidate who's behind to want as many debates as possible as late in the race as possible, while the front-runner typically likes to limit debates. Mr. Earley didn't schedule any debates with his opponent in the primaries, Lt. Gov. John H. Hager.
This will be the fourth debate between the two men, but the first to be televised live across the state. Libertarian candidate William Redpath has been excluded from all of the debates.
The first debate, sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association, took place in July at a resort in West Virginia. The second debate, sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, took place last month in Tysons Corner. The third debate took place last week at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

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