Either the Rehberg Campaign is Lying or Some Media Outlets Have Some Explaining to Do

Late this afternoon, the Rehberg campaign breathlessly announced that they had challenged Jon Tester to a series of seven debates in the fall:

Denny Rehberg today challenged liberal U.S. Senator Jon Tester to meet in a series of seven debates this fall. The Rehberg campaign, along with media and other organizations, has built a robust schedule of debates throughout Montana.

Seven debates would be great for everyone but Dennis Rehberg, who will cement public perception of his incompetence when forced to defend “his record” in a competitive environment, but there’s one little problem with this announcement.

The Rehberg campaign, along with media and other organizations, has built a robust schedule…

When I read that this afternoon, I thought it was strange wording. Wouldn’t it be entirely inappropriate for the media outlets to schedule a series of debates just working with one of the campaigns? The last time I checked, there were two other candidates for the U.S. Senate from Montana, and it seems that debates are scheduled through coordination of all involved parties.

So I assumed (based on that and years of evidence that he’s perfectly comfortable doing it) that Rehberg’s campaign manager Erik Iverson was just lying.

The Tester campaign says that, other than the Gazette and Montana Television Network, which were part of the original Tester debate challenge, they have not confirmed these specific dates with any of the listed organizations or media.

I simply cannot believe that a news outlet or civic organization would behave in the manner the Rehberg campaign contends. I’ve written to get clarification from both the media sources and the Rehberg campaign, but have not received a response yet.

I certainly understand why Representative Rehberg would like to get the stink off his cowardly refusal to attend the last scheduled debate, but if his campaign is sacrificing the credibility of Montana media organizations to do it, he owes them (and us) an apology.

The truth is simple. The Tester campaign has been eager to debate from the outset, but Dennis Rehberg knows he can’t help himself by debating. This latest “challenge” is nothing more than political theater to hide his unwillingness to defend his embarrassing record.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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