U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo won’t be debating again this year.
Palazzo won’t be at a debate at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Ballroom I of the Thad Cochran Center. And he won’t be at a forum Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the Hardy Hall auditorium on USM’s Gulf Park campus in Long Beach.
Democrat Mark Gladney and Libertarian Ric McCluskey, who are challenging Palazzo for his 4th Congressional District seat, will attend both events and are giving the three-term Republican incumbent the business.
“Representative Palazzo dodges everything,” Gladney said at a press conference last week at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Biloxi. “He dodges his constituents, continually refusing to come down and even have town hall meetings. He dodges hard decisions that might violate or go against his party lines. He dodges simple things like debates. Why will you not come out and have a debate for all our constituents to see what your actual thoughts are?”
McCluskey said Palazzo is afraid of being held accountable for not standing up to President Barack Obama and allowing the deficit to balloon.
“It’s discouraging that he’s refusing to come to either one of these debates,” he said. “I can’t understand how he can do that. I understand that a lot of his votes may be hard to defend once someone pulls the curtain back and you see what his votes really mean.
“He has done a tremendous job of paying lip service.”
Crawdaddy reported Tuesday morning Palazzo won’t be at either USM debate. After the original post went online, Palazzo’s office responded:
“Congressman Palazzo is attending the Salute to the Military Tuesday night. Wednesday he is welcoming the sergeant major of the entire U.S. Marine Corps to South Mississippi before attending his son’s junior varsity football game that evening. Thursday Congressman Palazzo is hosting more than 400 high school students at his annual Youth Leadership Summit at MGCCC all day before heading to Ellisville to participate in the Jones County Junior College Championship Ring Ceremony on Thursday night.”
Paige Roberts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast League of Women Voters, which is helping with the Gulf Park forum, said Palazzo’s spokeswoman said he had a prior commitment.
Assistant Professor and Director of Forensics Paul Strait told the Student Printz student newspaper at USM in Hattiesburg that Palazzo offered no explanation for turning down the debate.