Stabenow Campaign Ends Debate on Debates

In August, Stabenow Agreed to Michigan’s Two Traditional U.S. Senate Debates.  Hoekstra Has Refused to Accept these Debates or Negotiate, Choosing to Launch Repeated Political Attacks Instead

DETROIT – The campaign of U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today announced that it is ending the ongoing debate over debates, due to Congressman Hoekstra’s refusal to accept the traditional U.S. Senate debates and his constant political attacks. With only three weeks left until the election, given these attacks and his refusal to negotiate, the Stabenow campaign has ceased attempts to try to start negotiations.

“Back in August, Debbie agreed to participate in the two Senate debates that she and all Senate candidates have participated in since 1996.  Unfortunately, rather than agree to continue Michigan’s tradition, Pete Hoekstra has instead chosen to launch repeated political attacks and has refused to even start negotiations,” said Dan Farough, Stabenow’s Campaign Manager.   “With little more than three weeks left in the campaign, the time has come to move on.”

In August, the Stabenow campaign accepted debate invitations from the Detroit Economic Club and Grand Valley State University, the two locations where debates have been held in all Michigan Senate election since 1996. This format allows Michigan residents the chance to compare both candidates’ records and visions on live statewide television.

According to the Grand Valley State University newspaper, The Lanthorn, the University has been forced to halt their own preparations because Hoekstra’s campaign has so-far refused their offer to debate. According to the Grand Valley publication, “The only issue is that Hoekstra has not accepted the two debates.”

With Election Day now just over three weeks away, Congressman Hoekstra has not agreed to these two debates and will not engage in good faith negotiations. Instead, Congressman Hoekstra has continued to avoid debates while he uses the debate over debates to launch repeated political attacks, which now include web videos and robo-calls (see below for examples of Hoekstra’s political attacks over debates). 

Pete Hoekstra also avoided debates during his primary election, when he only allowed one 30-minute debate aired on public television despite repeated calls from his opponents for more.

Michigan’s tradition of holding one debate with the Detroit Economic Club and another at Grand Valley State University began in 1996 in the campaign between Carl Levin and Ronna Romney. Senator Stabenow participated in these two debates when she challenged incumbent Spence Abraham in 2000 and in her 2006 reelection campaign. All Senate candidates have agreed to participate in these two debates in every one of Michigan’s last five Senate elections.

A history of Pete Hoekstra’s political attacks over debates is below:



HOEKSTRA PRESS RELEASE: Hoekstra Calls for Six Debates with Stabenow

Hoekstra for Senate called for six nationally-broadcasted debates with Sen. Stabenow across the state. “It is finally time for Senator Stabenow to answer for her record in public," said Hoekstra. "We need to go beyond the talking points of President Obama and Harry Reid and discuss the solutions we need to get Michigan families working again.” [Hoekstra press release, 8/17/12]


“Today, I called for six debates with Sen. Stabenow. With the serious economic challenges that our country faces, we need to adequately discuss the solutions and go beyond the talking points issued by Pres. Obama and Harry Reid.” [Pete Hoekstra Facebook page, 8/17/12]

AP ARTICLE EXCERPT: Hoekstra Wants 6 Debates with Sen. Stabenow

Hoekstra calls for 6 debates against Sen. Stabenow before the November election. “It’s time for Senator Stabenow to answer for her record in public,” Hoekstra said. [Associated Press, 8/17/12]



“Stabenow says "let's debate in October". Convenient, that's after people start voting!” [@petehoekstra, 8/22/12]


HOEKSTRA RELEASE: Stabenow Tries To Pull A Fast One on Michigan Voters

Sen. Stabenow said in an interview that she wants to wait until October to debate Hoekstra, while the GOP challenger thinks waiting that long will put absentee voters at a disadvantage. "Senator Stabenow will do anything to hide from her failed record including trying to pull a fast one on Michigan voters," said Spokesman Greg VanWoerkom. "Michigan families, seniors and troops overseas deserve to hear directly from the candidates before they vote. They deserve to hear the facts about Sen. Stabenow's voting record that has led to 42 consecutive months of unemployment above 8 percent." [Hoekstra press release, 8/23/12]


“Sen. Stabenow is trying to pull a fast one on Michigan voters that must vote absentee like seniors and our troops overseas. Under her proposal, they would not get to hear directly from the candidates. Is she trying to hide from the facts of her record?” [Pete Hoekstra Facebook page, 8/23/12]


STABENOW PRESS RELEASE: Stabenow Accepts Debate Invitations from Grand Valley State University and Detroit Economic Club

Following the long tradition of United States Senate debates in Michigan, Senator Debbie Stabenow's campaign today announced she will participate in two debates with GOP nominee Congressman Pete Hoekstra. The Stabenow campaign has accepted debate invitations from the Detroit Economic Club and Grand Valley State University, the two locations where debates have been held in every Senate election since 1996. WGVU Public Media will televise its debate and offer the program for airing on seven public TV stations and all public radio stations across the state.

HOEKSTRA PRESS RELEASE: Hoekstra for Senate Response to Stabenow Only Wanting Two Debates

Hoekstra for Senate released the following statement in response to Sen. Stabenow’s announcement that she only wanted to participate in two debates: "Sen. Stabenow is hiding from the public to hide from her record that has led to sustained unemployment and Michigan families worried about their future," said Campaign Manager Greg VanWoerkom. "The people of Michigan deserve better than four consecutive trillion dollar deficits, 1,200 days without a budget and 8 percent unemployment for over 40 months. Michigan voters, statewide, want to hear straight from the candidates their solutions to end the economic slide." [Hoekstra press release, 8/31/12]


“Record high gas prices for Labor Day! Stabenow policies squeeze middle class families. No surprise she will not debate.” [@petehoekstra, 8/31/12]


HOEKSTRA PRESS RELEASE: Michigan Voters Deserve Statewide, Network Televised Debates

Hoekstra for Senate Counsel Charlie Spies wrote a letter to Stabenow for Senate asking once again to participate in six statewide, network televised debates. The full letter can be accessed here.

The letter states in part: “We note with attention your campaign's recent press release announcing that Senator Stabenow does not plan to participate in any televised network debates...Sen. Stabenow does not want to actually debate Pete in a forum that the people of Michigan could view and make decisions based upon. We hope that this is a misunderstanding and that Sen. Stabenow will supplement the joint appearances that she has accepted with several network televised debates." [Hoekstra press release, 9/4/12]


“Michigan voters deserve multiple statewide, network televised debates between Stabenow and me. The country faces serious challenges that deserve serious discussion and debate." [Pete Hoekstra Facebook page, 9/4/12]

NATIONAL JOURNAL ARTICLE: Debates Have Not Been Finalized

The Hoekstra and Stabenow campaigns have been in discussions about debates between the two candidates, but nothing has been finalized. The Hoekstra campaign “wants six debates with Stabenow,” and “wants statewide debates on network TV.” Stabenow’s campaign issued a statement that Stabenow has accepted two debate invitations – one from the Detroit Economic Club and the other from Grand Valley State University. Both institutions have a history of hosting Senate debates. [National Journal, 9/4/12]



"Debbie's campaign has questions about the auto bailout and what didn't work? Wonder why she will ask the questions but refuses to debate?" [@petehoekstra, 9/6/12]


HOEKSTRA INTERVIEW: Hoekstra Said Stabenow Had Not Agreed To Anything

When asked about debates in an interview on WHTC 1450, Hoekstra said: “As far as I am aware, there are no commitments for any debates or any joint appearances. I think as we go through this week we will start indicating to a number of groups that we will participate in their forums and in their debates, but as of Debbie Stabenow agreeing on anything, or she agreeing to do anything at this point, the answer is no.” [WHTC 1450, 9/13/12]


HOEKSTRA PRESS RELEASE: Hoekstra Accepts All Statewide, Network Televised Debates

Hoekstra accepted every statewide, network televised debate request that the campaign has received from NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates. "People of Michigan deserve to hear straight from the candidates about their solutions to turn around the worst economic recovery in history, record high gas prices and reckless Washington spending," said Hoekstra. "The recent events in the Middle East and by the Federal Reserve show that the country has serious issues that need to be addressed. The only way for the people to properly hear from the candidates is to have statewide, network televised debates.” [Hoekstra press release, 9/14/12]


MIRS ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Campaigns Still Divided by Debates

With the election now less than eight weeks away, there have been no new negotiations between the Hoekstra and Stabenow camps about debates, Hoekstra spokesman VanWoerkom told MIRS. In public statements, Hoekstra has called for six debates, including at least one to be broadcast on statewide network television. Stabenow has agreed to participate in two debates – one hosted by Grand Valley State University, and the other by the Detroit Economic Club. But VanWoerkom said the Hoekstra campaign doesn’t believe these two debates are sufficient, saying that the race deserves at least one to be broadcast on network TV. So far, VanWoerkom said today, “There’s been no negotiations.” [MIRS, 9/18/12]


DETROIT NEWS ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Stabenow and Hoekstra at Odds over Debate Format

Both candidates blame the other for not communicating. “We said yes, now the ball is in his court,” Stabenow spokesman Cullen Schwarz said. Hoekstra spokesman Greg VanWoerkom retaliated with, “We believe the people deserve to have a network televised debate. They need to return our call so we can hash this out.” Stabenow said she’s following a tradition held since 1996; “We have accepted the two debates that are traditional done in the Michigan Senate race in the last five senate races,” she said. Hoekstra has not accepted; “We believe it can be part of the discussion but we haven’t had a discussion yet on what the whole series of debates will be,” VanWoerkom said. [Detroit News, 9/19/12]

BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Stabenow, Hoekstra Have Yet to Agree on Debates

The two major-party candidates for U.S. Senate have yet to agree on debates, despite the election being less than two months away. Sen. Stabenow says she has accepted two debates, but Pete Hoekstra hasn’t signed on. Concurrently, Hoekstra wants to take part in six debates that would be broadcast on network television, saying he would like to work out a longer debate schedule before agreeing to the two Stabenow has accepted. [Battle Creek Enquirer, 9/19/12]


HOEKSTRA PRESS RELEASE: Stabenow Worst For Absentee Voters: Delays Debates Until After Voting Begins

"Debbie Stabenow's campaign tricks have failed Michigan voters like her economic policies have failed the people of Michigan," said Spokesman Greg VanWoerkom. "Michigan families, seniors and military personnel deserve to hear the candidates in their own words prior to voting, but Debbie continues to dodge and delay debates to hide from her failed record on jobs and spending." [Hoekstra press release, 9/26/12]


MLIVE ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Still No Debates between Senate Candidates

The Hoekstra campaign says Stabenow has planned to delay debates until October, meaning some absentee voters would already be filling out ballots before seeing the candidates debate. “Michigan families, seniors and military personnel deserve to hear the candidates in their own words prior to voting, but Debbie continues to dodge and delay debates to hide from her failed record on jobs and spending,” spokesman VanWoerkom said. [MLive, 9/26/12]


“Sen. @Stabenow dodged & delayed debates so absentee voters wouldn't hear her failed record on #jobs & spending.” [@TeamHoekstra, 9/27/12]


"Debbie Stabenow dodged and delayed debates so absentee voters would not be able to hear about her failed record on jobs and spending and Pete's solutions to fix it. The people of Michigan deserve better than her delaying political tricks she learned in the Senate." [Pete Hoekstra Facebook page, 9/27/12]


DETROIT NEWS ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Hoekstra Blasts Stabenow over Debate Squabble

Pete Hoekstra said Tuesday that he’s still waiting for Sen. Stabenow to agree to broadly televised debates in Michigan’s U.S. Senate race, preferably on issues of foreign policy and the economy.


“She has been delinquent in both of those areas,” Hoekstra said. “I would love to have this debate with her. It’s clearly why she’s ducking debates and doesn’t want to be held accountable.”


“I’m sorry,” Hoekstra said in response to Sen. Stabenow accepting an invitation to debate before the members of the Detroit Economic Club. “Michigan has more voters than who attended the Detroit Economic Club.”


Stabenow has said her preference for two debates follows U.S. Senate tradition dating back in Michigan to 1996.  [Detroit News, 10/2/12]



"Last night was a contrast of visions. It is why Debbie and I need to debate. There are 2 visions for America." [@petehoekstra, 10/4/12]

HOEKSTRA STATEMENT AT EVENT: Hoekstra Claimed Stabenow Does Not Want To Debate Because She Will Lose

“After last night, you know, we know that the Senator doesn’t want to debate. After last night, it’s going to be clear that she will even strengthen her stance against debating because when the facts are not on your side and when the, you don’t, and when the record is not on your side, you will lose the debate.” [Standish press conference, 10/4/12]



"Stabenow scared to debate. I will either debate her or an empty chair. It is her choice." [@petehoekstra, 10/9/12]


MIRS ARTICLE EXCERPTS: Hoekstra: 'I Will Debate An Empty Chair'

Republican U.S. Senate challenger Pete HOEKSTRA said he and his opponent have yet to iron out any of the details for proposed debates. Asked if there might not be any, Mr. Hoekstra told MIRS, "That may be a possibility."

Hoekstra is holding out for some network TV exchanges, and incumbent U.S. Sen. Debbie STABENOW (D-Lansing) has agreed to an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club and on a West Michigan Public TV station, which would be available for rebroadcast for other public television stations.

"She'll blame me," if we have no debate, Hoekstra said as the days on the campaign calendar tick-off.

Hoekstra said there been three offers and he would have participated even though he was the front runner and front runners don't usually debate a lot. On Twitter this week, Hoekstra went as far as to say she was "scared to debate."

"I will either debate her or an empty chair. It is her choice," Hoekstra tweeted.

MI GOP ATTACK VIDEO: Stabenow – Debate

Narrator: Senator Debbie Stabenow refuses to debate her republican challenger, Pete Hoekstra, on statewide network television.

What is Debbie hiding?

Is it her support of President Obama’s failed stimulus, or is it the fact that she cast the 60th vote for Obamacare?

 Maybe it’s her role in the Democrat-controlled Senate’s failure to pass a budget in more than 1,200 days.

Michigan voters deserve answers.

Call Senator Stabenow and tell her to stop running from her record. Debate Pete Hoekstra on statewide network television.



“She has refused to debate Pete on the issue of health care and Medicare, but that's not stopping Pete. He has accepted the invitation to have a health care specific debate from the Independent Choice Network as health care is a critical issue facing Michigan families and small businesses.”

“Pete has decided he will share where he stands with or without Debbie. Join him and see if Debbie is going to be a no show.”



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"Now more than ever, Michigan needs a fighter that will put partisanship aside and stay focused on creating jobs in Michigan's new economy. That is why Debbie is my choice for U.S. Senate."

-Owen A