• 77°

Debate set for

Monday

By TIM REEVES

BNI Newswire

Gov. Don Siegelman and U.S. Rep. Bob Riley spent their weekend preparing for Monday’s first gubernatorial debate in very different ways.

Riley spent Saturday with fellow Republicans in Talladega, while Siegelman spent the time preparing for the debate.

"We are looking forward to Monday’s debate and hope to have and open discussion on ethics and reform," said Riley press aide Pepper Bryars. "We look forward to discussing what has been going on the past four years and what should happen over the next four."

Bryars said Riley has been preparing for the debate but does not "over prepare."

"He speaks from the heart during speeches and debates such as these," Bryars said. "He is going to rely on his experience as a businessman and as a United States congressman. The people of the Third Congressional District have come to believe in that style and the people of Alabama have begun to."

According to Siegelman staff members, the governor has been holding mock debates over the past few days as well as studying up on a wide range of issues.

"The governor has been reviewing material and holding some question and answer sessions for a few days," said Siegelman spokesperson Rip Andrews. "But he has the best debate preparation having been the governor for the past four years."

Andrews took a shot at Riley’s lack of issue discussion in the campaign so far saying, "it is difficult to prepare for a debate against a candidate who has no ideas."

This is the first debate between the two gubernatorial candidates, and will be one of only two debates between the two before the Nov. 5 general election.

The debate, hosted by the Alabama Debate Partnership, will be broadcast live on Alabama Public Television beginning at 8 p.m.

The second debate – scheduled for Oct. 20 – will be different in that other candidates and races will also be featured on the telecast.

APT announced late last week that the two candidates vying for the U.S. Senate seat will take part in a one-hour discussion. Both Democrat Susan Parker and incumbent Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions agreed to take part, as did lieutenant governor candidates Bill Armistead and Lucy Baxley.

The debate will be the first time the two candidates have taken part in a candidate forum or debate at the same time.

Last weekend, Riley was absent from the candidate forum in Orange Beach hosted by the Alabama Press Association.

While the two have been at functions together, including the Honda expansion press conference in Lincoln and the Hyundai groundbreaking in Hope Hull, Monday’s meeting will be the first time the two have spoken since the Chilton County Peach Parade in Clanton, where they shook hands and talked for a few moments.

Following the primaries, Siegelman and Riley had been offered numerous debate opportunities from Huntsville to Mobile, from Auburn to Clanton. But, while Siegelman accepted nearly every offer to debate, Riley chose to accept just the two debates hosted by the Alabama Debates Partnership.

The Debates Partnership is made up of the state’s four largest newspapers, Alabama Public Radio and Alabama Public Television.

Riley headlined a long list of Republican candidates who converged on the Talladega Superspeedway Saturday afternoon for "Race to Victory 2002."

The event, hosted by the Alabama Republican Party, welcomed state office candidates, as well as Sen. Jeff Sessions who is seeking reelection against Democratic opponent Susan Parker.

The public event was held at the Talladega Motor Sports Hall of Fame in the Speed Channel Dome.