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Politics

Brown Turns Down Kennedy Institute Debate Invitation

June 19, 2012

Republican Sen. Scott Brown announced on Tuesday that he won't participate in a proposed September debate co-sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate now that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki Kennedy rejected his condition that she not endorse in the Massachusetts Senate race.

From the Boston Globe:

In a letter today to Brown and Warren, Lisa McBirney, chief operating officer of the Kennedy Institute, and Christopher Hogan, chief of staff in the chancellor's office at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the other debate co-sponsor, made clear that Vicki Kennedy would not relinquish her right to endorse in the race.

"Given the goodwill and understanding of the non-partisan mission of the institute that Senator Brown has thus far shown, it seems inconsistent that he would now attempt to restrict the activities of Mrs. Kennedy as a condition of accepting a debate that is co-sponsored by an organization with which she is affiliated," McBirney and Hogan wrote.

"This non-endorsement pledge is unprecedented and is not being required of any other persons or entities," they wrote. "To us, such a pledge seems inappropriate when a non-media sponsor issues a debate invitation. We can assure both campaigns that the debate will be fair, just as the one we cosponsored between Senator Brown and Attorney General Martha Coakley in 2010 was fair."

"We respect Vicki Kennedy's decision but we regret that we cannot accept a debate invitation from someone who plans to endorse Scott Brown's opponent," said Brown's campaign manager Jim Barnett in a statement. "The Kennedy Institute cannot hold itself out as a nonpartisan debate sponsor while the president of its board of trustees gets involved in the race on behalf of one of the candidates."

Brown and his challenger, Elizabeth Warren, have been largely conducting their debate negotiation through the media. Brown's campaign declined to sit down with Warren staff to negotiate the debate schedule.

The candidates have mutually agreed to two debates so far.

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