As challenger/underdog candidates always do, Rep. Joe Sestak today challenged Sen. Arlen Specter to debate six times - once in each of the state's media markets - in their Democratic primary battle.
It's the usual pas de deux, and even Sestak has to know it's not going to happen. He needs the exposure, and Specter needs to not elevate him. Still, the rules of the game dictate Sestak has to try.
"It would be a disservice for Arlen Specter not to agree," Sestak said during a news conference in the lobby of the Patriot-News building in Harrisburg, where he was meeting with the editorial board. "The stakes are too high," he said. (h/t to the Morning Call's Capitol Ideas Blog for the quote.)
Sestak, natch, wants to whack Specter for some of the votes he made during his 29 years on the Republican side of the Senate chamber - especially those that aided or abetted George W. Bush, the Democrats' bloody shirt this cycle (and, come to think of it, for the past three cycles). He'll probably suggest that one debate be devoted to the Republican Arlen debating the Democratic Arlen, a formulation that is also time tested.
Specter's campaign says that the senator traditionally has participated in one statewide televised debate during primary contests, and it is hopeful that one can be arranged with Sestak.