Thursday, September 25, 2014

Debate-Gate: Allen Faced Barrow in Closed Doors

AUGUSTA, GA (Anibal Ibarra) - UPDATE 9/27/2014 - Rick Allen debated John Barrow in closed doors, since the capacity of the place it is so small to fit all the people wanted to participate in it. There was no audio system for the audience outside to listen, either. The Islamic Center rejected at the last minute by Allen and the Morris Communications could have up to 1000 people inside.

9/25/2014 - The “debate-gate” has arrived to a “happy ending” with Rick Allen (Republican) agreeing to participate in a debate with incumbent Representative John Barrow (Democrat). The Georgia 12th Congressional debate will be held Saturday 27 at 3 pm in Augusta. The event has been re-located from the Islamic Community Center to the Columbia County Government Complex. The debate is still sponsored by the Islamic Society of Augusta, but it will not be co-sponsored by the Columbia County News-Times.  However, its publisher, Steve Crawford, will still serve as the debate moderator. 

The Augusta Chronicle’s president, Lieutenant General Dana T. Atkins, announced Wednesday evening that the debate between John Barrow and Rick Allen is still scheduled, but the venue has changed because one of the candidates had “apprehension” over holding the forum at the Islamic Community Center of Augusta.

The event was announced weeks ago and there was no indication of Allen having any issue with the Islamic Center as venue at all. According to sources, the leadership of the conservative Augusta Chronicle (AC) found out about the Islamic Center venue just recently and rejected the idea of Crawford participating in the debate as moderator. The Columbia County News-Time and the AC are owned by Morris Communications.

The AC reported: “Due to a misunderstanding, the publisher of The Columbia County News-Times, Steve Crawford, failed to follow protocol in getting approval in sponsoring Saturday’s political debate between Rep. John Barrow and GOP challenger Rick Allen.”

The moderator, Crawford, being a representative of the conservative media that has blasted Barrow in its editorials might be unfair, unbalanced and odd, to say the least. Nevertheless, Barrow with 10 years in the House of Representatives, is used to be in the middle of controversies, left and right. 

Rick Allen had debated at
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
with fellow Republicans in the past.
Some members of the Islamic Center are not happy with Barrow for his position on the Israel-Palestine crisis for not doing enough to minimize the violence, specially for not demanding the Obama administration to stop sending financial aid to Israel until a peace agreement can be reached. To suggest that the Islamic Center members are in bed with Barrow is plane conservative politics or blatant ignorance, said a source close to the religious organization. 

It will be interesting to watch how this supposed Islamophobia plays in favor of Allen. He needs all the undecided votes from rural Georgia and a way to distance a little bit from Barrow. The “blue dog” politician is not a favorite of the left in his own Democratic Party for voting against core issues for liberals such as limiting wars, defending health policies, the environment and promoting immigration reform. 

So far Barrow’s camps made several concessions for the challenger - not known publicly - even before the “debate-gate” and accepting to change the venue now is a new one. He looks loosing the debate already but the winner of the election will be known November 4.

Initial reaction from Barrow:

“Folks in the 12th District have been waiting a long time to hear from Rick Allen. A debate is the appropriate venue to discuss our differences, and it’s unfortunate that he’s unwilling to talk with voters in the only debate scheduled for the Augusta region. I call on Rick Allen to reconsider, name a location for us to discuss the issues Saturday, and once and for all face the voters to explain where he stands on the important issues we face.”

From Allen Campaign on September 24

Barrow Lies to Georgians Again

Ducks Proposed Debates and Tries to Blame Allen

AUGUSTA, GA – John Barrow sent out a press release today accusing Rick Allen of not wanting to debate him. In the same release, Barrow’s spokesman acknowledges that of the five debates Allen’s campaign has proposed, Barrow has rejected all of them.

The facts of the Islamic Center forum Barrow is very keen on attending are this: the Columbia County News Times that was co-sponsoring the forum has withdrawn from the arrangement and is trying to establish its own event. Allen, for his part, has not withdrawn from anything.

“It is interesting that the only two standing shoulder to shoulder on this topic are John Barrow and a Muslim cleric who are attacking Rick Allen together,” said Allen spokesman Dan McLagan. “Barrow’s obviously close association with the head of the Islamic Center is his affair but it does make this a suspect venue for us. All of our contact has been with the News-Times and we would be happy to continue our conversations with them.”

In the meantime, Mr. Barrow remains silent on the five debates Allen’s campaign has been attempting to get him to agree to.

Areas events

Augusta Area
Saturday, September 27th – 3:00pm
Columbia County Government Complex
Evans, GA

Thursday, October 16th
Meet-and-Greet – 6:00 p.m.
Debate – 7:00pm
Ogeechee Technical College Auditorium
Statesboro, GA

Atlanta – GPB Debate
Sunday, October 26th – 6:30 p.m.

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