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Cantwell Challenger Channels Clint Eastwood

September 6, 2012

It appears actor Clint Eastwood isn't the only one capable of communicating with the invisible. After repeated attempts to haggle Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., into debating with him, GOP state Sen. Michael Baumgartner announced Thursday that an "empty chair" has accepted his debate invitation in her stead.

"Participating in a debate during an election campaign is a civic duty of a public servant. It is admirable that this empty chair is willing to serve the voters of Washington so graciously and without hesitation," said Baumgartner in a release.

Baumgartner's campaign insists that he's not entirely kidding -- he will attend the forums, regardless of whether Cantwell agrees to attend. "This may be the first of many debates between Senator Baumgartner and an empty chair," Baumgartner spokesperson Jami Herring told Hotline on Call.

Baumgartner, who faces long odds against the popular and well-funded Cantwell in liberal Washington State, has been trying for weeks to get the senator to agree to a debate schedule, writing in a letter to Cantwell last week that he would debate her "anywhere at any time." In the letter, Baumgartner argued for ten debates set across the state. He has already accepted two debate invitations, including one in Republican-friendly Spokane, which he represents in the state Senate. Herring said on Thursday that the deadline to accept that invitation had passed without a response from Cantwell, and it was unclear whether the debate would move forward.

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