Gov. Pete Ricketts said Friday he will make three joint appearances for debates with his Democratic challenger, Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, but the Krist campaign said it's a schedule designed to "limit the number of eyeballs" that can witness the events.
A debate at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island on Aug. 30 will be co-sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald and KMTV in Omaha.
But the two other events, announced in a statement from the Ricketts campaign, are a debate in Wayne sponsored by Wayne Area Economic Development on Sept. 21 and a joint appearance at the Nebraska Jewish Political Forum in Omaha on Oct. 7 that the Krist campaign said is not even a debate.
Krist campaign communications director Dan Parsons said those two events were chosen instead of a televised debate sponsored by KETV in Omaha that Krist already has agreed to and a proposed debate that would be aired by KOLN Channel 10/11 in Lincoln and carried statewide over its Gray Television affiliates in Omaha, Hastings, North Platte and Scottsbluff.
"While we both agreed to participate in the State Fair debate, there have been no discussions regarding future debates, rules, locations or format," Parsons said.
"Instead, Governor Ricketts has taken a 'my way-or-the highway approach,' which is an attitude reflected throughout his administration.
"This is how an out-of-touch and arrogant candidate acts, not the governor of a great state," Parsons said. "What are you afraid of, Governor Ricketts?"
The Wayne debate was "created at the request of the Nebraska Republican executive director," Parsons said.
In a statement announcing the schedule agreed to by the governor, Ricketts campaign communications director Matthew Trail said the governor "looks forward to detailing Nebraska's growth and progress over the last four years and its bright future ahead."
"With an opponent who has desperately resorted to misleading attacks and outright lies, this is an opportunity to set the record straight," he said.
Responding to criticism voiced by the Krist campaign, Trail said: "These invitations, which were extended to both campaigns, were accepted to debates that are open to voters based on Governor Ricketts' schedule.
"Governor Ricketts looks forward to discussing his work to grow Nebraska," Trail said.
The schedule announced by the Ricketts campaign:
* Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 30, 3-4 p.m.
* Wayne Area Economic Development debate, Sept. 21, 5-6 p.m
* Nebraska Jewish Political Forum, Oct. 7, 3-5 p.m.