Will Bachmann debate? You decide

I’ve been trying to pin down whether there will be any debates between Republican U.S. House Rep. Michele Bachmann, DFLer Tarryl Clark, and IP candidate Bob Anderson.

So far, it seems that at least two possible debates were canceled because Bachmann didn’t participate. That’s not necessarily big news. The candidates get loads of debate requests. And last year, it appears that Bachmann limited her participation to two debates.

UPDATED: There were two public debates, as well as a debate on MPR that was limited to candidates.

But a conversation with Bachmann’s spokesman, Sergio Gor, left me pretty confused. I *think* he said she’ll be doing some debates, but that message seemed to change a few times in the course of our chat.

Here’s the transcript of the conversation. If you can decipher it unequivocally, let me know.

BAXTER: I’ve checked with a couple of these debate places, and they’re saying they have not heard back from you. So I just want to pin down what you’re going to commit to.

GOR: We’ve confirmed with some, you haven’t dug those up, then.

BAXTER: I’ve called everyone that’s on the list. I know two {debates} have been canceled so far because you guys weren’t participating. And the other ones said you haven’t confirmed.

GOR: I can’t tell you what’s on your list, that’s the thing. I don’t know what list you’re going off of.

BAXTER: Can you tell me how many you’ve confirmed?

GOR: I can’t.

BAXTER: How about the one in St. Cloud. Have you confirmed for that?

GOR: I can’t confirm any of that.

BAXTER: How about Monticello. They say you haven’t confirmed. Is that contrary…..

GOR: I can’t confirm any of that. We’re just not commenting on that.

BAXTER: I’m going to be writing something saying who says you have or haven’t confirmed. So I wanted to give you the opportunity….

GOR: That’s fine. Just include in there that we have said yes to some venues, and when they’re ready to announce is when the press will learn. But I can 100 percent tell you we have confirmed with some venues.

BAXTER: Venues, plural?

GOR: Geez, you’re getting picky, yes.

BAXTER: I just want to be precise.

GOR: Yeah.

BAXTER: But you’re not going to say which ones?

GOR: Nope.

BAXTER: Can I ask you again… The other candidates are not giving a similar line about why they’re not announcing which places. It doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue with the venues being in control of this. Is that really what’s going on?

GOR: What do you mean?

BAXTER: Are you concerned about getting…. too many national press in the door or something like that?

GOR: It’s just a campaign decision. We’re picking and choosing. As you can imagine, we get dozens and dozens of requests. We’ve got requests that I’m positive you don’t have on your list.

BAXTER: Right.

GOR: There are all sorts of new venues and new clubs and organizations around the district, and then there are the news outlets, so we pick and choose.

BAXTER: Sure. But you will be participating in more than one debate?

GOR: I can’t confirm that. We confirmed with several venues about participating. That’s where I’m going to leave it at.

BAXTER: When you say you confirmed… you mean you RSVP’d? You’re not saying you affirmatively responded?

GOR: We’ve affirmatively responded.

BAXTER: You have affirmatively responded to more than one venue.

GOR: To several, correct.

BAXTER: That means you are participating in more than one debate?

GOR: Those are your words.

BAXTER: It just doesn’t make sense to me. If you’ve affirmatively responded….

GOR: That’s all you’re going to get out of me. Rephrasing the question in different ways doesn’t get you a different answer. I’ve said all I can. You know this, Annie, come on. We’ve confirmed with several venues.

BAXTER: “Affirmatively confirmed” would, to most people, mean you’ve said yes.

GOR: Yes.

BAXTER: I just want to make sure that’s what you’re saying.

GOR: Yes.

BAXTER: So it does mean more than one debate?

GOR: We’ve confirmed with several venues affirmatively.

BAXTER: I just don’t know what you’re saying. I just don’t know. But I don’t want to misrepresent it.

GOR: Just say: the venues will be announced when the organizers want to announce them, but yes, we have confirmed several venues.

BAXTER: Okay. And by confirmed you mean you are attending.

GOR: Correct.


GOR: All right?


  • Adam

    You have perseverance, Annie!

  • Jarret

    I don’t know. Sounded about as straightforward as you can expect from a campaign PR hack. It appears that they don’t want to officially announce anything until it’s 100 percent confirmed. Understandable.

    Of course, the other possibility is this PR guy is taking direction from his boss, which means he has no effing idea what to do or say.

  • BJ

    I know a guy that has a bat, and for $20 he’ll do all kinds of good things to Sergio Gor. 🙂


  • kirk

    sucha gotcha question Annie.

  • “I know a guy that has a bat, and for $20 he’ll do all kinds of good things to Sergio Gor”

    Behold the violence inherent in the system.

  • JakeL

    This is a modern day “Who’s on first?” sketch, except its real life.

  • Mary


    How many times do you have to be told?

    Do you not understand the answer?

  • Bill Prendergast

    Your transcription of your conversation with Gor is the best and most informative piece of reporting I’ve seen on the Bachmann story in a long time, Annie.

    Please keep the tape recorder on, and send in more transcripts–not just Bachmann; any candidate. it took that long to get the Bachmann campaign to claim that they have confirmed debates (that the other candidates don’t even seem to know are going to be held.)

    It’s classic Bachmann–the press is the enemy, people who want debates are the enemy, so we’re not going to tell you where or when the debates are, even though we claim to have confirmed them…we haven’t even told the people we’ll be *debating* where these debates are–

    Trying to get a straight answer from Bachmann and her terrified peeps is often like trying to get a straight answer from the Kremlin. It’s a culture of fear she’s running in her office, her press staff regularly turns over like flapjacks at the International House of Pancakes.

    The only media she really wants to deal with at all are the blatantly pro-Bachmann media. Thus: even the simplest information, even non-sensitive information–is treated like it could cost the flaks their jobs. Thank you for printing that conversation.

  • Karl

    Why are debates being cancelled because Micxhele Bachmann won’t commit? There are three candidates in this race. It only takes two to debate. Hold the goddamn debates and if Bachmann doesn’t show, there’s an empty seat and microphone with her name on it. End of story. You want to run for office, you debate your opponents. That’s how the game is played. If you let one candidate dictate the terms of the debate for all the candidates, the debate sponsors and the media are as much to blame as the candidate refusing to debate.

  • Jeff Whitmill

    I’m just amazed that MPR will put something like this in public. After the way they’ve leaned over backwards to avoid anything critical of Republicans (let alone informative to the public) the last 10 years, this is altogether astonishing.

    I can only assume this page and Ms. Baxter will soon disappear from the site.

  • Irene

    Well done!

    How difficult is it to answer a simple question with a simple, understandable answer?

    For Bachman people, apparently, impossible.

  • Donavon

    It seems that Mr. Gor is feeding you a very specific line on behalf of Bachmann, and wants you to print it verbatim with no speculation or commentary or inferences. Good for you for trying to pry Bachmann’s true intentions out of this PR schmuck.

  • Bob Anderson

    Karl, you and I finally agree on something. I appreciate your logic.

  • Steve

    What’s great about this story is that it could only happen to the Republicans. Had this interview been done with the Independence Party there would have been no vagueness. Watch the Clark Campaign scramble this week to catch up with Bob Anderson’s Campaign. I hope Senator Clark has all the answers for you, Annie. Go get her. I’d like to see the same interview from all three sides on this issue.

  • Tom

    Way to go Annie! This is most direct piece on the 6th district race. Now, what about the Clark campaign? And the Bob Anderson campaign?

    Also, why are media outlets in town (Wcco TV and Kstp TV, among many) not covering the Independence Party candidate? Is there a conspiracy there to exclude a candidate from a major political party from press coverage? This, like the refusal of campaigns to debate, is a grave disservice to voters. The voters should be able to know where all the candidates stand.

  • Johnny

    Nice work Annie.

  • Dwayne

    Great work trying to pin him down Annie. It is probably because noody knows when Bachmann might be back in Minnesota, or even in her district next. Bob Anderson has been in touch with more voters in the district in 4 months than she has in her collctive 4 years as a US Representative.

    Clearly, all Bachmann represents is herself. It is definitely not the people in the district she represents.

  • Deb

    I’m more curious about this: why, every time Ms. Baxter tried to ask whether Ms. Bachmann would be participating in one or more debates did she get no answer or one that would only confirm participation at one or more venues? Is it possible that Ms. Bachmann will, in fact, be hosting or speaking at one or more locations — just not actually debating anyone?