By Michael Norton
State House News Service
---- — BOSTON — As voters focus on choices they'll make next Tuesday, organizers of the final planned debate between Sen. Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren have officially cancelled the meeting, a casualty of super storm Sandy and the inability of the Brown and Warren campaigns to agree on an alternative date.
The one-hour debate had been scheduled for Tuesday at the WGBH studio in Brighton. With CNN's John King ready to serve as moderator, it represented a chance for Warren and Brown to engage one more time and appeal to voters whose verdict in the race could dictate the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.
But the match was postponed Monday as Sandy swept through Massachusetts, knocking out power to 387,000 customers and triggering a wave of emergency response efforts. On Wednesday morning, nearly 90,000 customers remained without power. Brown planned to tour storm damage in Plymouth and Warren planned campaign stops in Gloucester, Haverhill and Concord.
Warren on Tuesday said she was available to debate Thursday, an offer that went unanswered for hours by Brown. Before the offer, Brown had suggested the final debate would "certainly" occur, according to the Associated Press, but then said his campaign schedule was busy in the final days before the election.
"The Boston Media Consortium sponsoring the debate has been working with both campaigns to reschedule the match, and offered multiple alternative options. The campaigns could not agree on a new date, so the debate will not take place," the media consortium wrote in a statement issued Tuesday night.
The consortium includes The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, New England Cable News, WBUR Radio, WCVB-TV, WGBH-TV, WGBH Radio and WHDH-TV.
In a statement, WGBH executive producer Linda Polach said, “This is very disappointing for all the citizens who will not have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates a week before this important election.”
On Tuesday night, Brown campaign communications director Colin Reed released the following statement: “It is unfortunate that nature intervened in a way we all agreed made it inappropriate to carry on with the scheduled debate. With only days remaining in the campaign, and with a long-planned bus tour kicking off Thursday through Election Day that will take Scott Brown to every corner of the Commonwealth, our calendar simply cannot accommodate a rescheduling of this fourth debate and the planning and preparation that would go into it. Senator Brown is pleased to have participated in three major televised debates, and regrets that Professor Warren refused two additional earlier debate opportunities that he accepted.”
Mindy Myers, Warren's campaign manager, also issued a statement Tuesday night. Myers said, "It is unfortunate voters will not have the chance to hear from both candidates on the important issues facing Massachusetts. Elizabeth was working with the debate organizers to move forward on Thursday. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Scott Brown is again ducking questions about his record voting on the side of big oil and billionaires and against equal pay for equal work, against a pro-choice Supreme Court Justice and against insurance coverage for birth control. Elizabeth agreed to additional debates that Brown refused in Worcester and the South Coast as well as a forum hosted by the NAACP. Scott Brown doesn't want to have to talk about his record - plain and simple."
Warren on Wednesday afternoon plans to campaign at a Gloucester bookstore, at her Haverhill field office and at a Concord bakery. Brown late Wednesday afternoon plans to join Rep. Vinnny deMacedo to tour areas of Plymouth affected by Sandy.