Sen. Bob Krist argued Thursday for five televised debates with Gov. Pete Ricketts, pushing back on the governor's earlier announcement that he would participate in three specific events that could serve as debates, or joint appearances, with his Democratic challenger.
"It is beneath the dignity of the office of governor for Pete Ricketts to deny Nebraskans the opportunity to see and hear our ideas of how we would serve if elected," Krist said.
"He should not be allowed to hide from his record," the Omaha senator said.
The governor is "dodging the media and the glare of television lights, hoping that his abysmal record on skyrocketing property taxes, cutting funds for education, opposing access to health care for vulnerable Nebraskans and his whimpering opposition to the president's (trade) tariffs will go unnoticed," he said.
Ricketts has said he will debate Krist at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island on Aug. 30 and at joint appearances in Wayne and Omaha.
Matthew Trail, the governor's campaign communications director, described Krist's objection as "a beleaguered tactic from a failing campaign."
"Governor Ricketts has held 59 town halls since becoming governor, participated in countless public appearances all across the state and visited each of Nebraska's 93 counties," Trail said.
And all three "joint candidate appearances" that Ricketts has accepted are open to the public and the press, he said.
The Wayne event was organized by the Nebraska Republican Party, Krist said, and the Omaha event is a forum where candidates would answer four to six questions given to them in advance.
Only the State Fair would be televised, Krist said, and it is the only true debate.
Responding to Krist, Kenny Zoeller, executive director of the Nebraska GOP, said the party did not organize the Wayne event, but only helped facilitate contact with the governor's campaign.
Krist proposed a schedule of four additional televised debates, including one that would be televised statewide by outlets in Lincoln, Omaha, Hastings, North Platte and Scottsbluff.