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Debating about having a debate

We will eventually have televised debates between Rick Perry and Bill White. But first we have to sit through the kabuki dance.

Belo Corp., the company that owns WFAA and TV stations in Austin, Houston and San Antonio, sponsored a statewide debate during the Republican primary and invited Perry and White to debate this fall.

White accepted. But Perry’s campaign spokesman, Mark Miner, says not yet.

“Once he releases his income taxes and tells the public how he made his money while in public service and as a business person, we’ll be more than happy to discuss debates,” Miner said.

The Perry campaign demands White release returns for all six years he served as Houston’s mayor and two years as deputy energy secretary in 1990s.

White has released only his 2009 tax return since he’s running for a statewide office just as Perry has since 1991. White said he will disclose specific information when asked.

“We’ll take in consideration releasing tax returns or parts of those tax returns,” White said. “We’ve been providing information from them to journalists as time goes on. I just want there to be a standard that’s applicable to all candidates.”

Of course Rick Perry doesn’t want to debate Bill White. He’s an incumbent with a lousy record to defend; why would he want to go on TV and have to answer for it?

The tax return issue that Perry keeps harping on is just an excuse for Perry’s dodge. As Jason Embry has pointed out, several current statewide officeholders have not released full tax returns for the years they have been in office. If it weren’t for that, there would be some other reason why he didn’t want to debate. BOR and EoW have more.

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