Santorum to Debate Romanelli?

From the Centre Daily Times...

Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Carl Romanelli said Wednesday that Republican Sen. Rick Santorum has agreed to participate in a series of debates with him across the state in the two weeks leading up to the Nov. 7 election.

A Santorum campaign spokeswoman would not confirm whether Santorum specifically agreed to that time frame, but said he looked forward to debating Romanelli.

Romanelli, who is fighting a lawsuit by state Democrats seeking to remove him from the ballot, said at a news conference that he was also extending a final invitation for Democratic state Treasurer Bob Casey to join in what Romanelli said would be at least 10 debates before the election.

“We will travel from Erie to Philadelphia and everywhere in between,” Romanelli said. “The senator has assured me he will go forward in debate, even in the absence of Bob Casey’s willingness to participate.”

Romanelli said he discussed the proposed debates with Santorum on Monday, when the two of them met at a Sept. 11 memorial service in Shanksville for the passengers and crew of United Flight 93.

Virginia Davis, Santorum’s campaign spokeswoman, said Santorum was eager to debate Romanelli.

“Sen. Santorum looks forward to joining with Mr. Romanelli and Mr. Casey for a series of debates between now and Election Day,” Davis said, adding that the details are still being determined.

Republicans helped bankroll Romanelli’s signature-gathering effort and Santorum campaign staffers helped collect signatures over the summer, prompting Casey’s campaign to accuse Santorum of engineering Romanelli’s candidacy. Casey spokesman Larry Smar said Wednesday that it was unlikely that Casey would participate in a three-way debate.

“We have a rule that each campaign can only have one representative on stage for debate at the same time,” Smar said.

Casey and Santorum faced off in their first debate on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sept. 3, without Romanelli.

The Casey campaign has agreed to three more debates, but Santorum has only tentatively accepted. Santorum has sought to have a total of 10 debates, including some in the state’s smaller media markets. The next one is expected to be Oct. 13 in Pittsburgh.

Romanelli, a railroad industry consultant and former family court officer from Wilkes-Barre, also acknowledged that any debates including him would likely not occur if the Democrats ultimately succeed in challenging his nominating petitions.

A Commonwealth Court judge is expected to begin a hearing Thursday in the lawsuit, which alleges that about three-quarters of the 94,000 signatures Romanelli gathered include fake names, unregistered voters and illegible signatures.

“Ultimately, if I am off the ballot, I don’t have a campaign, because I don’t plan to run a write-in campaign,” Romanelli said.

Pennsylvania law requires minor-party and independent candidates to collect a number of signatures equal to 2 percent of the ballots cast for the largest vote-getter in the last statewide election. This year’s threshold, because it is based on Casey’s record vote count in winning the treasurer’s office in 2004, was set at an unusually high 67,070 signatures.

2 Responses to “Santorum to Debate Romanelli?”

  1. Nigel Watt Says:

    Wow, he REALLY wants all a lot of liberal votes to go Green. Interesting strategy, to say the least. Wonder if Dems will start funding LP candidates in close races?

  2. Mike Gillis Says:

    we’d be better off for it…

    The more voices in a debate, the better. The question is, can Casey be pressured into debating them?

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