Abbott reverses position; accepts televised debate -- with a change

It's unclear whether Democrat Wendy Davis will accept

AUSTIN, Texas - Hours after pulling out of a statewide televised debate in the Texas governor's race, Republican Greg Abbott reversed his position and agreed to debate Democrat Wendy Davis.

But there's a change.

Abbot still won't participate on a roundtable-type discussion as proposed by Dallas station WFAA-TV and The Texas Tribune. Instead, he took up the offer from KERA, NBC5/KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News to participate in a debate with timed responses.

Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said the campaign canceled the Sept. 30 debate at WFAA, which it had agreed to three months ago, because the format wouldn't have allowed for a "thoughtful" discussion of issues.
"We agreed to a format. We agreed to a format and I'm disappointed that he
pulled out of the debate after having agreed to that format," said Wendy Davis.
Mike Devlin, president and general manager of WFAA, said in a story posted by the station that the debate would have been "no different" than numerous others that have been balanced and fair to all candidates.

Now it is unclear whether Davis will accept the KERA debate.

Her Communication Director, Zac Petkanas, told WFAA and sister station KVUE, "Wendy Davis has already committed the evening of September 30th to a debate on WFAA. The station has asked to have a discussion on Tuesday, September 2nd to discuss options given the recent developments and, as Wendy Davis is someone who honors her commitments, the campaign looks forward to having that discussion."

In addition to the format, the Abbott campaign pointed out the WFAA would have been aired by stations affiliated with WFAA's parent company, Gannett. They reach more than 80 percent of Texas voters. The KERA debate, Campaign Manager Wayne Hamilton said, will be available statewide to TV and radio stations and anyone can stream it online.

"Voters deserve a thoughtful and substantive policy discussion on how the next governor will lead Texas.," Hamilton said. "Greg Abbott looks forward to sharing his vision for Texas' future and participating in the upcoming debates."

The KERA debate is scheduled for September 30 at 7 p.m. El Paso time, as was WFAA's debate.

Should it happen, ABC-7 will offer the debate on our sister station, the El Paso-Las Cruces CW and online at kvia.con.

Abbot and Davis are also scheduled to debate Sept. 19 in McAllen.

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