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Governor Rick Perry refuses to appear at October gubernatorial debate


Gov. Rick Perry has nothing to gain and everything to lose by participating in an October debate with opponent Bill White, which was why he has declined to do so, according to one political science professor.

In an e-mail Adam Schiffer wrote that he believed Perry’s strategy was to distract voters from upcoming election issues and rely on his incumbency to win him the election.

According to an Associated Press article, Perry has refused to appear at a gubernatorial debate until Democratic challenger White releases all of his tax returns. Although White released his tax records from 2004 to 2009, Perry said he would not debate until White released income tax returns from all of his years in public service, according to the article.

The debate will be sponsored by the state’s largest newspapers and Austin’s public television station KLRU-TV Oct. 19, according to the article.

Schiffer wrote that he thought Perry’s excuses for not participating in the debate were irrelevant.

“If White’s tax returns weren’t an issue, he would find another excuse,” he wrote. “He simply wants the clock to run out without giving his opponent a chance to be seen and heard.”

Senior political science major Michael Bennett, chairman of TCU College Republicans, said he thought Perry’s refusal was intended to make a political point. If White cannot be open and honest about his own tax records, he cannot expect Texas citizens to do so, Bennett said.

According to the AP article, Perry challenged White to release the tax returns from his time as deputy energy secretary and chairman of the Texas Democratic Party by Sept. 15.

Michael Lauck, founder of TCU Libertarians, said the release of income taxes were an intrusion by the government in the first place and should be irrelevant.

“It really shouldn’t matter what you choose to spend your own personal money on,” Lauck said.

In the AP article Katy Bacon, White’s campaign spokeswoman, said Perry needed to stop hiding his failure and stop playing games. Perry said he was eager to participate in the debate, but only if White was honest with the people of Texas about his past profits as a public service official, according to the article.

Junior writing and film, television and digital media double major Nathan Pesina said he thought Perry’s refusal to attend a debate with his opponent seemed like an excuse to get out of discussing pressing topics. He thought Perry would lose some respect and credibility by not showing up to the debate and by avoiding talking about the issues, he said.

“To me, I’d rather know what Bill White and Rick Perry think of a topic than how much Bill White makes in a year,” Pesina said.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the debate will proceed even if only one candidate shows up.

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