If a Senate incumbent skips a debate and nobody sees it, will his opponent make a sound? Democratic nominee Scott Howell took to grilling the empty chair of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, in front of an audience of merely 20 people Tuesday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Hatch's campaign cited previously scheduled events and said there would be plenty of time for debates later in the race. That didn't satisfy Howell, who repeatedly asked Hatch's vacant seat what he had done to create jobs. Minus its six-term occupant, the chair was unable to give an account of Hatch's record, exactly the effect Howell intended.
It's not the first time an absent Hatch has been subjected to tough questioning. Hatch's primary opponent Dan Liljenquist "debated" on an empty stage (and after threatening to debate a cardboard cutout of the senator) after Hatch declined to meet for a televised debate post-April convention.
While Hatch's empty seat at debates may make for an easy target, his seat in the Senate appears secure.