Earlier this week, I sent an e-mail to Montana Broadcasters Association President Greg MacDonald. No response. Then a phone call placed to MacDonald. No response.
My question? Hey Greg, do you have a copy of an e-mail, an official letter, anything that shows you formally invited Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to your planned debate this Sunday during the MBA convention in Whitefish? No response.
Callers to our statewide radio talk show also raised the issue. So, I said on the air two days in a row- if you say you invited him and now he is backing out, “Show me the money.” No proof was ever offered, yet a couple days later we did finally hear that MacDonald and the MBA was cancelling the debate.
Now, we hear from the AP that Rehberg offered to completely change his schedule so that he could attend the Sunday debate in Whitefish (the two just debated in Big Sky last weekend). However, MacDonald said the debate would not be able to work later in the day.
As The Missoulian reports:
“Due to scheduling complications that could not be resolved, we are unable to have all three candidates present on Sunday so the board of directors of the MBA elected to make this decision,” MBA president Greg MacDonald said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Just what is so important that Greg MacDonald couldn’t alter his schedule to allow for a debate to move forward this Sunday? I can only assume the answer is a round of golf. That’s right, those of us attending the Montana Broadcasters Association convention are either slated to play golf or float the river on Sunday afternoon. (Full disclosure, I will happily be floating the Flathead River)
In that same Missoulian report, the Rehberg campaign had this response:
“After a strong debate last week, we’re disappointed that the MBA wasn’t able to make this weekend’s event work, but we will continue working with individual Montana broadcasters to put together a robust debate schedule so folks can see the clear contrast between Denny’s independent leadership, versus Senator Tester’s 95 percent support for President Obama,” according to a statement from Rehberg’s campaign manager, Erik Iverson.
Did anyone else in the Montana press corps even ask MacDonald to show proof of his formal invite? Are we just supposed to take his word for it? And yet, even still, this whole debate story is being reported by the AP and others as a “he said, he said” story. Despite all of that, the debate could have still moved forward. Rehberg committed to changing his schedule, but apparently MacDonald couldn’t interrupt his golf game.
Meanwhile, the Tester camp is trying to say that Rehberg is hiding, a laughable charge from a Senator who has spent the last two years in hiding, refusing to hold legitimate townhall meetings, while the Congressman showed up in all 56 of Montana’s counties. Democratic party activists were allowed to film inside of these events, and yet when a reporter from Montana Watchdog tries to film a Democratic party event featuring Tester, he gets kicked out and called a “Republican operative.”
Even when Tester would show up in Northeast Montana to hold talks during the height of the health care debate, he would schedule invite-only meetings featuring armed security, and his staff would demand that attendees submit questions in advance. Despite getting questions in advance, at least one health care official in Northeast Montana told me that Tester was still unprepared for the discussion.
Tester’s wariness for facing the public, and even potential critics, flies in stark contrast with the state’s popular Democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT). No wonder Schweitzer’s approval ratings consistently top 60%, while Tester is scrambling for re-election.
As for Rehberg, who offered to change his schedule and debate later in the day, he’ll be at a fundraiser in Wyoming Saturday night. (Tester campaigned in San Francisco earlier this month) But, don’t worry Tester camp- you can keep the Pearl Jam tickets. I have little desire to hear Eddie Vedder screaming on stage about how Goldman Sachs executives should commit suicide, all the while strumming his guitar for a Senator who raked in the cash from the very same Goldman Sachs execs.
Partisan leftists are still encouraged to attend the MBA convention. Even though Sunday’s commercial for Jon Tester has now been cancelled, you can still catch Democratic Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) at the MBA this weekend. The man who shepherded Obamacare through the US Senate will be the keynote speaker at the convention on Saturday night. The AARP, a prominent backer of Obamacare, was sponsoring the now-cancelled debate on Sunday. All of this happens the weekend before The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to announce their ruling on the Constitutionality of Obamacare. Say what you want about the political games surrounding the MBA convention this weekend, it certainly will be timely.