Rick Perry & Bill White: Midnight Is Nigh In The Great (And Silly) Deadline For Debates
The finger-pointing continued Wednesday as the great gubernatorial debate over who's at fault for not having a gubernatorial debate came to Houston.
Republican Governor Rick Perry has given Democrat candidate Bill White until midnight tonight to release tax returns from the 1990s as a condition for Perry's participation in a debate, but today White passed on the demand. And so it appears as though there will be no public debate between the candidates for governor of Texas for the first time since 1990.
Still, White held a media conference at his Houston headquarters this afternoon to do a little Perry-bashing and blame the current governor for creating the situation.
"Governor Perry does not want to be held accountable or answer questions," White said. "His handlers are uncomfortable allowing him to appear unscripted [and] he hopes the more he can be scripted ... the less people will think about the job he's done."
Perry, it should be noted, has also refused to participate in newspaper editorial board meetings.
The Governor has thrust White's tax returns from when White served as Deputy Secretary of Energy, from 1993-1995, and Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, from 1995-1998, onto center stage. A Perry spokesman has said, "When the clock strikes midnight, the people of Texas will unfortunately lose the opportunity to see the candidates debate because of Bill White's lack of transparency and honesty."
White reportedly has already released tax returns for the years he served in public office, but will not release all of his tax returns, claiming, "We've released more financial information than [Perry] has."
White called Perry's deadline "self-imposed," and insinuated that it was created as a way to wiggle out of a debate. He called Perry's refusal to debate "a sign of disrespect. Voters are entitled to hear from the candidates. It sets a bad precedent."
Trying to look like the good guy and essentially telling a crowd of reporters that he will debate Perry anywhere and anytime (provided he doesn't have to hand over the tax returns), White said succumbing to Perry's deadline tactics would "set a bad precedent to let one candidate dictate the terms and conditions" of a debate.
When pushed to answer why he won't just fork over the tax papers and get on with the debate, White said, "Because campaigns aren't games."
All evidence to the contrary.