Paul Shumaker, Burr's consultant, wrote a letter to Democratic Senate candidate Kenneth Lewis of Durham, saying he could not participate in a forum with the N.C. Medical Society on Friday in Raleigh, Rob Christensen reports. Burr is scheduled to appear before a group of about 75 doctors.
Lewis, the only announced Democratic candidate, had challenged Burr, a Republican to a debate on health care. Burr had discussed a forum and had even talked about televising it with NBC-17.
But Shumaker said Burr decided to appear before the doctors alone, when Lewis was the only Democrat to respond to Burr's invitation.
More after the jump.
"Each communication from Senator Burr to you has clearly stated his willingness to engage in a debate on healthcare reform provided all the Democratic candidates would participate," Shumaker wrote in a letter. "The Richard Burr Committee contacted the North Carolina Medical Society and they agreed to host such a debate only if all the candidates would agree. Unfortunately, they did not agree to do so."
"I understand your desire for such a venue, as it would provide much needed exposure for your candidacy," Shumaker said. "However, as you have previously been informed, we will not engage in political stunts designed to elevate one candidate over the other."
Lewis has said he plans to show up any way.
"That Senator Burr somehow needs more Democrats on stage with him to engage in a debate is pure fiction and can only be viewed as a pretext upon which to continue ducking open debate his health care plan," Lewis said in a statement. ""this fiction is premised on Senator Burr 'feel(ing) that it is only fair to the (Democratic) Party and the political process" — a logic perhaps understood in Washington DC but one lost on the working families of North Carolina, who, to this day, have yet to see Burr defend his healthcare in an open forum during the August congressional recess."