Bush Rejects Boston TV Offer to Debate McCain

By Jerry Miller | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Boston, MA (CNSNews.com) - With the New Hampshire Primary election less than three weeks away, Texas Governor George Bush has rejected an invitation from Boston-based television station WCVB-TV, offering time for a one-on-one debate with his primary challenger Arizona Sen. John McCain.

McCain has accepted the invitation, saying it would give him another opportunity to highlight differences between he and Bush.
According to a spokesman for the station, the debate would have taken place within the station's evening newscast, sometime between now and the February 1st primary election.

Democratic contenders Bill Bradley and Vice President Al Gore were extended the same opportunity. While Gore has yet to respond, Bradley declined the offer.

In deciding to reject the invitation, a Bush campaign official said there are already enough debates planned prior to the Granite State election.

WCVB-TV Executive News Producer Linda Polach said she was not certain what the station might do if McCain were to be the only candidate who accepted the offer.

Polach also defended the station's decision to offer the time to only two of the six Republicans presidential aspirants, since Bush and McCain are clearly the front-runners, while the other trail badly in virtually all public opinion polls.

Several Granite State Republicans have insisted Bush would do well to debate McCain one-on-one, in order to experience what it would be like to go head on with an opponent.

"Al Gore, should he become the Democratic nominee, is a tenacious debater, while Bush has yet to really distinguish himself in any of the New Hampshire and Iowa debates. He also didn't do much one-on-one debating in his two Texas gubernatorial races. The time to practice is now," said one Republican activist and Bush supporter who spoke on condition of anonymity. "How bad could it be to go head on with McCain in the limited time available on a newscast?"