Saturday, September 18

Kansas fourth district debates may not happen

From the campaign office of Representative Mike Pompeo. His opponent is Todd Tiahrt, whose campaign sees this issue differently.


Tiahrt Continues to Dodge Debates with Rep. Pompeo

Mr. Tiahrt refuses to accept common debate rules and instead demands the right to read from statements prepared by his handlers

WICHITA — Over one month ago, Congressman Mike Pompeo challenged Todd Tiahrt to five debates. To date, not one email, not one phone call, and not one message have been sent back to the Pompeo campaign. Rep. Pompeo wants these debates so that voters can see the clear choice between his own Kansas values and Todd Tiahrt’s Washington, D.C.-centered vision of America.

“I was disappointed the Tiahrt campaign didn’t reply to requests to discuss such an important part of the campaign. I’ve been involved in numerous campaigns, and the normal practice is that two campaigns collaborate to put together a debate plan. Oddly, the Tiahrt campaign has chosen to work through intermediaries in an effort to delay and confuse and make the process difficult so as to avoid having to speak to Kansans,” stated Alan Cobb, senior advisor for the Pompeo campaign.

Today, the Pompeo campaign learned that Mr. Tiahrt has caused the cancellation of a debate that was proposed by Wichita State University. We had agreed to the debate with a simple set of commonly-used rules essentially requiring only (a) equal time for all, (b) good behavior of all in attendance, and (c) that each candidate stand on his own two feet and debate without pre-written materials to read from. It seemed pretty straightforward.

We have now learned that Mr. Tiahrt won’t debate unless he is permitted to bring to the podium a notebook containing prepared statements. The Tiahrt campaign confirms that they could not agree to the rule prohibiting pre-written materials and notes.

Mr. Cobb stated, “How would Kansans benefit from having candidates read statements prepared for them by their handlers? Rep. Pompeo understands that Kansans want debates so they can hear what the candidate knows and thinks, not what appears on a crib sheet in a notebook set down in front of them. After 18 years in politics, does Mr. Tiahrt not know what he believes? Why is he afraid to tell Kansans his own thoughts?”

The Tiahrt campaign falsely asserts that Rep. Pompeo has avoided three debates. Mr. Tiahrt knows the truth, but wants to mislead voters yet again.

  • June 17, Newton, Kansas:  The first was a forum – not a debate.  That forum occurred when Mr. Tiahrt knew Rep. Pompeo was unable to come to Newton because he was performing his duties in Washington, D.C., voting;
  • July 11, Pachyderm Club:  The second event Tiahrt asserts that Rep. Pompeo is avoiding is a Wichita Pachyderm Club event.  No debate was ever agreed to and Mr. Tiahrt would demand that he be permitted to avoid having to speak his own words to that audience as well;
  • July 18, Arkansas City:  Mr. Tiahrt, Mike plans to be there and hopes Mr. Tiahrt will do more than just read to the audience.

Our debate challenge to Mr. Tiahrt remains. Mr. Cobb concluded, “The Tiahrt campaign knows my phone number, and I still hope they’ll call to develop a plan that will enlighten voters about what each of the candidates believes — not what their advisor put in front of them.”