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Posted on Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

Rick Snyder, Virg Bernero agree to debate on Oct. 10

By Staff


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Virg Bernero, left, and his Republican rival, Rick Snyder, have a impromptu debate during Snyder's town hall meeting at the Hawthorne Valley Country Club in Westland on Sept. 13.

AP photo

From The Associated Press

Michigan gubernatorial candidates Republican Rick Snyder and Democrat Virg Bernero agreed Wednesday after sitting down for coffee together that they would debate next month, their campaigns told The Associated Press.

Spokesmen for both candidates said the agreement is for one hourlong debate the evening of Oct. 10. It will take place at the Detroit-area public television station in Wixom and be sponsored by the Center for Michigan.

Commercial and public television stations around the state will have the opportunity to show the debate live or on tape delay. It also will be available online on the Center for Michigan website.

Bernero originally had asked for eight debates, and has repeatedly criticized Snyder for avoiding any.

Snyder had broken off debate negotiations more than a week ago after Bernero didn't immediately accept his offer of three specific debates. Days later, Bernero showed up at a Snyder campaign town hall event in Westland to present his opponent with a letter asking that the two sit down alone and work out an agreement.

Snyder invited him into the town hall meeting, and the two shared the stage answering the audience's questions. Both addressed the West Michigan Policy Forum in Grand Rapids last week, but appeared separately.

With his double-digit lead in the polls, Snyder has more to lose than gain from going one-on-one with the feisty Lansing mayor. But debates are traditional in Michigan gubernatorial contests, and the Ann Arbor businessman was taking some heat for not agreeing to any.

Both campaigns sounded conciliatory on Wednesday.

"This is going to be an important debate and it's going to give the voters a chance to hear and contrast and compare both candidates on the same stage at the same time answering the same questions," Snyder campaign spokesman Bill Nowling told the AP. "We think it's going to a good, robust discussion about the issues that are affecting Michigan families and businesses."

Added Bernero campaign spokesman Cullen Schwarz: "Virg is disappointed that at this point there's not agreement on more debates. But it is good that there will be at least one debate so that Michiganders can hear the candidates discuss their plans, their record and their vision for Michigan."

Moderators for the debate weren't named, but the Center for Michigan has suggested in the past using Nolan Finley of The Detroit News and either Stephen Henderson or Ron Dzwonkowski of the Detroit Free Press, the campaign spokesmen said Wednesday.

The format will be similar to Republican and Democratic debates the center put on during the primary election and will not include a studio audience.

The last governor's race in which there were no debates was in 1998, when two-term Republican Gov. John Engler refused to debate Democrat Geoffrey Fieger after the Southfield trial attorney made disparaging comments about Engler and his family. But even then, Engler agreed to a debate before the Detroit Economic Club. Fieger declined to appear.


michigan face

Wed, Sep 29, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

Virg Bernero is one of US! Wake up - Rick Snyder is an egotistical snob, a bully and a coward. All he knows or cares about is himself and all the money he has to try to buy this election. He is afraid to debate at all and certainly refused to in front of a real audience with real questions that he doesn't want to answer.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

Buying your way into elected office is much like using personal connections to sidestep a formal job application process, jump right to the font of the line, and get oneself hired. Snyder appears to indicate he needs no job interview. The world of private business often tolerates this type of back-room deal in the name of economic "freedom," but standards for competitive fairness and transparency are somewhat higher in the public sphere. There exists a democratic expectation that political candidates will present themselves and their ideas to the public in ways that will allow voters and other candidates to engage them openly in direct discussion and debate. The ongoing evaluation and direct challenge of candidates, in the interest of a better-informed public, are among the better elements in our political tradition. Yet across the country we increasingly permit very wealthy business people to essentially purchase a special pass that unfairly relieves their political candidacies of a significant degree of badly-needed public scrutiny. Instead of a series of debates, we get endless TV sound-byte ads. The Snyder campaign, along with high-profile campaigns in California and elsewhere, make a collective argument for major campaign finance reform.

E. Manuel Goldstein

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 9:02 a.m.

JSA, how would you know who I vote for? As a matter of fact, I have voted Republican, and very recently. In fact, if I lose my job in the near future, I would consider a run for City Council or Mayor of this fine burg as a Republican - a Lincoln Republican - a Liberal Republican. Don Bee, I care because what I see happening is Rick Snyder able to use his $million$ to purchase the governorship, and essentially getting a free pass from local and state media. I have read both Rick Snyder's and Virg Bernero's websites. What I see on Rick Snyder's website is platitudes, obviously written by his well-paid-for consultants, and I certainly don't see any plans of substance. With Rick, I see nerd, but don't see tough. When I read through Virg Bernero's website, I see a dedicated and strong fighter who will act in the interests of working families in this state, plans for a state bank that would lend to small businesses (similar to what successfully exists now in North Dakota), pro-choice, diversity, support for alternative energy, and support for education. With Virg, I see tough, and not milquetoast. I would like both candidates to explain to me and my children - in very concrete terms - why we should even stay in Michigan any more.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

81wolverine: Taxes do not cost jobs. President Clinton proved that by adding 21 million jobs after raising taxes, more jobs than during the Reagan and Bushes eras combined. Also, job increases were the lowest in history following W's tax reductions begun almost a decade ago. Furthermore, you need to read the following analysis of the recent Rick Snyder political ad blaming Virg Bernero for increasing taxes and fees which was published September 20, 2010 by KATHY BARKS HOFFMAN of the Associated Press on the "In accusing Bernero of voting for higher taxes and fees, the ad doesnt note that some of those increases were backed or even suggested by Republicans. And some of the votes were not for actual increases. One 2004 vote, for instance, would have ended the link between the states estate tax and the federal estate tax, which was being eliminated. Michigan would have kept its estate tax at the same rate. The GOP-controlled Senate ended up voting to keep the two tax rates linked." "Bernero has suggested higher fees, but they generally are user fees intended to maintain city services as the state has cut revenue sharing payments to local governments. Bernero has not raised city taxes during his five years as mayor." "Still, being labeled as someone who has voted to charge taxpayers more is a negative in the current economy and political climate. The ad may have an impact among voters worried about bigger government or having to pay higher taxes." The last statement only applies to voters who are unwilling to think for themselves and to determine what is fact and what is fiction, important and unimportant.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:51 a.m.

Mr. Vazquez and Mr. Briegel unfortunatly give play to the stereotype of typical Ann Arbor Democrats. They wouldn't vote for anyone running as a republican. The debate will serve no purporse as Benero will use it entirely for spin and not substance. He has no plan and no ideas other than maintaining the status quo for Michigan's public service unions, AFSCME, and MEA in particular. It is to be hoped he just fades away after this election. He should be able to find a job he is qualified for. The phrase "want fries with that" comes to mind.

David Briegel

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

So, Bernero has things to do and stop doing while all Ricky Rich has to do is show up? No, he doesn't even have to show up. He can just slink in! Using the same lies that Republicans have used for the last 30 years. And the sheep keep on believing!


Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 9:08 p.m.

@Luis Vazquez - Why do you care? Your mind is already made up. 1 hour or 100 hours, you are going to vote for Virg. What I need to make up my mind is now an hour of sound bites or 100 hours of sound bites, but the answers to a set of essay questions that would tell me in some detail what the candidates propose. TV is TV. Written essays can be read in less time than watching a TV show, and they can convey more than simple non-answers that are standard fare in debates. When AA.Com or some other outlet provides a set of long answers to a set of good questions, then I can make up my mind.

Olan Owen Barnes

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

Why is there any big push for a debate for the GOP when according to the Detroit News there is: "Meanwhile, a poll conducted between Friday and Sunday by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., found Snyder has a 52 percent to 31 percent lead, with 16 percent undecided." From The Detroit News:

E. Manuel Goldstein

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

Only 1 debate, for 1 hour? How wimpy, Ricky Rich. Is that the best your top dollar, out-of-state consultants can offer you in terms of advice? This really shortchanges voters in Michigan. As any employer knows, you don't hire anybody based solely on a resume or on face value. People wanting to be hired for big jobs usually face an interview, and frequently, followup interviews. Debates should serve to inform voters about real qualifications, and Ricky Rich's resistance to additional debates (interviews) should tell the people of Michigan that they are going to be sorely disappointed if they "hire" or elect an outsourcer of jobs. Millionaires generally do not understand the realities of most peoples' lives. Also,, I have to tell you, its become difficult to read through post after post of anonymous posters. I have no idea who these people are, no idea if they live in my community, or even if they live in Michigan. Posters to these fora should at least have the guts to post under real names.

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 4:43 p.m.

Yes! Can't wait to tune in for that debate.

scooter dog

Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 2:42 p.m.

Whats to debate? The only question around the water cooler or coffee shop is, How big of a landslide win is rick going to bestow on virg. Rumor has it he's in for a real hoseing


Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 2:42 p.m.

Virg is a poor choice unless you want another 4 years of Jenny's rule Snyder will make changes but they may be tough as Michigan is in such bad shape.


Wed, Sep 22, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

That's a VERY reasonable compromise for Snyder. Political strategy 101 says that when you have a huge lead in the polls, you don't need or want to do a debate with the other candidate. There's basically no direction to go except down. But, I think it's a good PR move to show voters that he has a good grasp of the issues and that he is willing to work with people. In general, I feel debates don't always show who is the best candidate. They might show who is best at debating in public in front of a camera, but that's about it. The main thing to look for is their grasp of the issues and do they have specific ideas for fixing problems - as opposed to mindless party rhetoric or negative mud-slinging. In Bernero's case, he needs to start showing the former and stop the latter.