PHOENIX - Arizona voters won't be seeing any more debates between the top gubernatorial contenders.
Incumbent Republican Jan Brewer said Thursday she has no intention of participating in any more events with Democrat Terry Goddard. She said the only reason she debated him on Wednesday is she had to to qualify for more than $1.7 million in public funds for her campaign.
"I certainly will take my message in a different venue out to the people of Arizona," she said.
Brewer said she has been in elective office for 28 years, and Goddard has held office for nearly that long. "I think it's pretty defined what he stands for and what I stand for."
Anyway, Brewer said, she believes the debates help Goddard more than they benefit her.
"Why would I want to give Terry a chance to redefine himself?" she said.
Brewer conceded that her performance in Wednesday's debate, and her refusal to answer a question from reporters afterward, was not well-handled. That includes an opening statement when she lost her train of thought and went silent, and walking away after the event rather than answering questions about her prior statements about headless bodies in the desert.
Brewer blamed part of her post-debate activities on her gaffe in her opening statement. The governor also said she presumed reporters would want to talk to her about some of the issues raised during the hour-long, televised debate.
"All you guys were doing and talking were beheadings, beheadings, beheadings," the governor said. "That is something that has stuck with you all for so long, and I just felt we needed to move on."
The subject came up during an exchange in which Brewer said unions are to blame for financial fallout over illegal immigration, calling on Goddard to disavow unions' support because they have called for boycotts of the state.
Goddard responded that it is actually Brewer scaring off tourists with comments about headless bodies being found in the desert, for which there is no supporting evidence.
Brewer insisted later that she has been misquoted. "I never said 'Arizona,' and it's unfortunate that it was construed as 'Arizona.' "
Goddard, in a prepared statement, did not agree with Brewer's decision to avoid future debates.
"It is our responsibility to give Arizonans clear information that will allow them to exercise their fundamental right to make an informed decision about who should lead our state into the future," his statement said. "Arizonans deserve more than a single discussion of the issues we face."
Brewer, however, said she does not believe such face-to-face confrontations necessarily educate voters.
"I don't believe that things come out in proper context in an adversarial atmosphere," she said. And Brewer said she is available for interviews.
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