Last night, Vincent Sheheen put out this statement:
“Honest leadership means looking people in the eye and defending your record in debates in each region of the state, but Governor Haley refuses to face the tough questions about her abysmal record. Today we notified ETV that, as with the debate proposed by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, I will participate in the debates when Nikki Haley agrees to join us. I encourage the Governor to stop hiding behind staff and TV commercials and agree to debate in the Midlands and Myrtle Beach especially. We all know you can’t trust Nikki Haley to tell the truth, but residents of every region deserve the opportunity to hear directly from their governor about her record and from the gubernatorial candidates about the direction we would take this state.”
The irony here is that Sheheen himself is declining to debate with Ervin, in the absence of the incumbent. So… he’s doing to Ervin what Haley is doing to him.
The governor, who is in a position to spurn Sheheen, does so, on the standard theory that if you’re leading and you’re the incumbent, you don’t give your opponent a forum in which he appears on an equal footing with you.
And if you’re Sheheen, you don’t lower yourself to debate with Ervin alone, because then you look like the members of the Sad Losers Left Out In the Cold Club.
It’s a pecking order thing.
Not that I disagree with Sheheen’s decision. Sheheen and Ervin debating an empty podium makes for an unappealing campaign visual. But when we all know how the electoral math works, it makes Sheheen sound a bit priggish to be using holier-than-thou language such as “We all know you can’t trust Nikki Haley to tell the truth.” But the campaign keeps putting language like that into his mouth, even though it just doesn’t sound like him.
Only one thing will get her to turn out for that debate: Polls that show her losing her lead. Apparently, she’s not seeing any polls like that.