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Reed, Kennedy shirk debates

Jack Reed and Patrick Kennedy will be among the candidates receiving endorsements in this week's Phoenix.

Yet despite -- or because of -- their obvious frontrunner status, these two incumbents seemingly can't make it to a debate with their opponents.

Kathy Gregg has the details:

U.S. Rep. James Langevin carved out time to tape a joint appearance with Mark Zaccaria, his Republican challenger in the Second Congressional District, on WJAR-Channel 10's Sunday morning Political Roundtable. It aired last weekend.

But Rhode Island's First District Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed have not agreed to requests by Channel 10 for televised debates. There has been no response over two days from the Kennedy or Reed staffs to questions about why they have not agreed to the TV appearances.

Channel 10 news executive producer Suzanne Nadeau-Beever said she has tried since September 23 to set up half-hour segments dedicated to each race, using a question-and-answer format moderated by reporters Jim Taricani and Bill Rappleye. Nadeau-Beever said she offered Kennedy "several dates'' and his staff at one point suggested this week might be workable, but then said, "sorry, we are booked.'' Yesterday, she reported that Reed's campaign has also "now declined our invitation for a joint candidate appearance on our Political Roundtable program. We will go ahead and tape a segment with Bob Tingle.''

The two back-to-back half-hour shows will air starting at 10 a.m. Sunday, but without the incumbents who have raised and spent millions seeking to win reelection.

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