Healey's debate sleight-of-hand

Here's the explanation from Nate Little, a campaign spokesman for Kerry Healey, on why the Massachusetts lieutenant governor is taking a pass on next month's live debate: "Two of the three Democrats won't even be in the race after the primaries. We sent out a debate challenge last week, for four debates between primary and election day. So once the candidates for the final are established, we'll be happy to debate anytime and anywhere."

I guess the idea is to let the Dems beat up on each other, instead of ganging up on the LG. Still, you've got to wonder if Healey is making the right choice here. Participating in pre-primary debates would toughen her up for the general-election campaign, and let her hammer home the differences between her and her opponents early and often. But this just makes Healey look timid.

It also renders Healey's aforementioned debate challenge wholly unimpressive. According to MassINC president Ian Bowles, the various candidates were informed of the date of the live-broadcast debate on April 7, and mailed written invitations on April 14. Healey issued her challenge on Tuesday, April 25--which suggests it was simply a bit of damage control aimed at making the LG's decision to abstain from the May debate look a little less lame.

Mission not accomplished, I'd say.
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