published Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Fleischmann-Headrick event moved to school; Event is first with both 3rd District candidates


by Chris Carroll
Mary Headrick, from left, Chuck Fleischmann
Mary Headrick, from left, Chuck Fleischmann

IF YOU GO

* What: 3rd Congressional District event featuring U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Dr. Mary Headrick

* When: 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday

* Where: Cleveland Middle School, 3635 Georgetown Road, Cleveland, Tenn.

* Cost: Free

SUBMIT A QUESTION

Cleveland Education Association President Tammy Magouirk said she's received about 15 questions. Email yours to tammilligan@msn.com before 5 p.m. Monday.

Organizers have moved Monday's 3rd Congressional District showdown from a small community library to a middle school theater that holds 400.

"Location has changed due to overwhelming response," Cleveland Education Association President Tammy Magouirk said in an email.

Originally scheduled at the Cleveland-Bradley County Public Library, Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and Democrat Dr. Mary Headrick instead will argue education, health care and the economy at Cleveland Middle School.

Is it an actual debate? Hard to say.

The distinction between "forum" and "debate" could be crucial as Headrick promotes the idea that Fleischmann is inaccessible and unwilling truly to spar with his ideological opposite. The congressman debated his Republican primary opponents at least three times this summer, but Monday's joint appearance represents the first -- and so far, only -- stage Fleischmann and Headrick will share as nominees.

Last month, Magouirk said Monday's rules had yet to be finalized, but described the event as "more of a debate" with "very likely" exchanges between the candidates at the moderators' discretion.

In an email Friday, she clarified. Fleischmann and Headrick will get two minutes to answer each question -- and that's all.

"There will be no rebuttal," she said.

Magouirk said she unsuccessfully pushed for an "open forum" in which the audience could ask unscripted questions.

"But a candidate did not want that," she wrote.

That candidate was Fleischmann. His campaign manager, Tyler Threadgill, said the congressman asked that all questions be submitted in advance and flow through the moderators.

"We'll make sure he's prepared," Threadgill said.

But Franklin Chancey, a Cleveland attorney and one of the debate moderators, said he doesn't plan to prohibit back-and-forth between the candidates. He said he'll deal with personal and political attacks on a case-by-case basis.

"We hope for a real debate," Headrick campaign manager Pat Combs said, "but we're also happy to get a chance for people to see the difference between the two. It's big."

Fleischmann promised only one debate with his Democratic opponent and has declined or ignored Headrick's requests for additional forums.

The public can submit questions by email until 90 minutes before the debate begins.

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