Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou criticized Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell Monday for refusing to chip in $5,000 so the two of them can hold a televised debate Saturday night, three days before the Nov. 8 general election.
A Caldwell campaign spokesman called Djou’s pitch a last-minute stunt by a desperate candidate.
There have been no televised debates featuring the two candidates since the primary election on Aug. 13, a situation that has been decried by public policy advocates. Both candidates, meanwhile, blamed each other for missing various debates and candidate forums.
Djou told reporters Monday afternoon that KITV had agreed over the weekend to provide for one-half hour of air time Saturday night at a cost of $10,000. The challenge was issued to Caldwell’s campaign staff Monday morning during a debate sponsored by the Philippine Press Club of Hawaii. Caldwell’s staff emphatically denies that it ever agreed to participate in Monday’s event.
Djou said that it was Caldwell who first lamented the lack of debates, and that he agreed with his opponent.
Mike Darrah, KITV news director, said the station’s sales staff gave the two candidates until close of business Monday to come to an agreement, and that the Caldwell side formally declined Djou’s proposal. Darrah said he was willing to consider using KITV news resources, but only if the two candidates agreed to participate. (The station held a mayoral debate before the primary that featured Caldwell, Djou and former Mayor Peter Carlisle.)
Caldwell campaign spokesman Lex Smith, in a statement, said Djou previously confirmed and then cancelled appearances hosted by respected news sources. “Now at the 11th hour and out of desperation, Charles wants to buy TV time for a paid infomercial on KITV, and wants the Caldwell campaign to pay for half of it,” Smith said.