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So many debates before CD1 primary, now just one scheduled


So many debates before CD1 primary, now just one scheduled

Sep 29, 2023 | 5:10 pm ET
By Christopher Shea Nancy Lavin
So many debates before CD1 primary, now just one scheduled
Democrat Gabe Amo, left, and Republican Gerry Leonard, right, have only one face-to-face debate scheduled during the run-up to the Nov. 7 special election to fill Rhode Island's open 1st Congressional District seat. And it's just four days prior. (Rhode Island Current photos)

Republican congressional candidate Gerry Leonard is renewing a call challenging Gabe Amo to multiple debates amid reports his Democratic opponent declined at least three invitations from other organizers.

After winning the Sept. 5 primary, Leonard had requested 12 debates over eight weeks, but as of Friday afternoon, the Amo campaign had only confirmed a single invitation to appear on WPRI-12’s  “Newsmakers” on Nov. 3 — just four days before the special election. 

Early voting begins Oct. 18.

Leonard’s campaign said he has accepted five debate invitations as of Friday, four of which Amo has either allegedly declined or chose not to respond.

“It is unfortunate that my opponent continues to play political games,” Leonard said in a statement released by his campaign.

“He is following the same old partisan playbook, spending more time taking photo ops in DC than presenting a vision for our community. As a U.S. Marine, I spent 30 years fighting to protect our democracy around the globe. A vibrant, open debate is a critical part of our democratic system.”

Matt Rauschenbach, a spokesperson for Amo’s campaign, offered a response via text message on Friday:

“Gabe looks forward to debating in a televised debate with WPRI, so that Mr. Leonard can explain to voters why he supports extreme GOP leadership in the House who have our nation on the brink of a shutdown, who support a national abortion ban, and who oppose common sense gun safety.”

He declined to comment further.

Amo participated in a slew of debates and forums leading up to the Sept. 5 primary, including those put together by the same groups he is now turning down, such as The Providence Journal and The Public’s Radio, Bill Bartholomew, and Raymond Baccari.