It happened this past Saturday in Helena at the annual Associated Press Broadcasters meeting. Republican Denny Rehberg, Democrat John Driscoll and Libertarian Mike Fellows sat down together for the first time to answer questions about this year's campaign for Rehberg's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I moderated and a panel of reporters (from the AP, Montana Public Radio and Billings station KTVQ) asked the questions.
You should have been able to see it on television. In fact, the Montana Broadcasters Association went to some pains to arrange for a Butte-based production company to record the event and even deliver it live via satellite to Montana television stations. Ultimately, the satellite feed was cancelled because no station wanted to air the debate live at 10 a.m. Saturday morning. But the debate itself was both interesting and revealing and I looked forward to sharing it with our viewers.
Then yesterday, the bad news arrived. A malfunctioning video recorder had rendered the television program unairable and unwatchable, despite the production company's efforts to find a fix. Disappointing as that news was for me and my group of television stations, it truly is a loss for Montana voters.
Fortunately, you can listen to the debate on the radio. Montana Public Radio of Missoula and Yellowstone Public Radio of Billings were smart enough to make their own audio recordings of the proceedings. Listeners to Missoula-based KUFM and its various translators around western Montana can hear it Friday, Oct. 10 at 1 p.m.
You'll hear Rehberg say that the United States should exit Iraq as quickly as possible. You'll hear Driscoll announce that he'll vote for Rehberg (because of Denny's "No" vote on the financial bailout) but won't endorse him. Driscoll also offers some fascinating details about links between China and Al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. You'll also hear Fellows expound on his party's view of the financial bailout and other issues.
From my view, this was the most civil, on-point and enlightening debate of this political season. It's too bad you won't be able to see it.