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Posted: 10/7/2002 9:11:51 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/7/2002 9:12:37 AM EDT by Tactical_Jew]
Gov. Gray Davis, challenger Simon ready for high noon showdown By DAVID M. DRUCKER, Staff Writer A Claremont political science professor says today's debate between Gov. Gray Davis and Republican challenger Bill Simon could help the governor solidify his lead in the polls or see his opponent regain momentum. "The debate will be significant if Davis makes a huge mistake,' Claremont McKenna College political science professor Jack Pitney(CQ) said. "Every reporter I've talked to is sick to death of writing Simon- screws-up stories. It would be a change of pace to write a story where Davis stumbles and Simon does well.' The debate will be the first for the pair. The one-hour debate is scheduled to air at noon on KTLA Channel 5 and other Tribune Broadcasting-owned stations statewide, and will feature the candidates answering questions from a panel of reporters. A change in the headlines could affect the mood of voters, who dislike both candidates but give Davis the benefit of the doubt. That analysis comes courtesy of the The Field Institute and the Public Policy Institute of California, which both bill themselves as nonpartisan. The debate is sponsored by the Tribune Publishing Co.-owned Los Angeles Times and Tribune Broadcasting, and is set to occur at the newspaper's Downtown Los Angeles headquarters. Simon, a Los Angeles businessman, has repeatedly offered to debate Davis "anytime, anywhere,' but this is the first dual agreed to by the incumbent Democrat. "Unfortunately, it's at noon on a weekday, when most people won't be able to see it,' Simon Press Secretary Mark Miner said. "But this is what Gray Davis has been pushing for, to debate at noon and be fund-raising by 1 p.m.' The Davis campaign shrugged off the notion that its candidate is avoiding public scrutiny, noting that its offer of two debates is more than the previous two incumbent governors, both Republicans, offered their opponents. "If you're a viewer, and you have the choice of watching the baseball playoffs or Monday Night Football, are you going to watch that or watch two politicians talk about the issues,' Davis campaign Press Secretary Roger Salazar said. "This whole prime-time thing is a game that challengers like Bill Simon play because they're trying to get themselves a little extra attention.' Salazar said the Davis campaign would be open to the second debate airing in the early evening, but noted Simon's claim that a noon debate allows Davis to duck the public is off-base, as most people would choose must-see TV over a gubernatorial debate. "I think this is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the two candidates,' Salazar said. "We're looking forward to showing voters how the candidates differ in terms of vision and approach, and to highlighting just how out of step with Californians Bill Simon is.' In addition to gaining attention for himself, however, Simon hopes to shed light on Davis' record. Simon believes Davis has avoided the limelight throughout the campaign because he does not want voters to be reminded of last year's energy crisis or this year's budget woes. "Hopefully, it will be an opportunity to highlight Bill Simon's vision for California and Gray Davis' last three and a half years in office,' Miner said. "Bill Simon is on the road seven days a week campaigning. Gray davis is mostly campaigning through false television ads.'
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