By Robert Costa
National Review) A group of tea-party activists in Texas will host a “modified Lincoln–Douglas debate” between Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich next month.
Bill O’Sullivan, the treasurer of Texas Tea Party Patriots, tells National Review Online that both candidates have confirmed their attendance at the forum, which will focus on fiscal issues.
O’Sullivan says the event, which will be held on November 5 at the Woodlands Resort near Houston, will also feature Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa) as an emcee.
In background conversations, both campaigns say they look forward to the discussion. A source close to Gingrich tells NRO that the former speaker will speak at length about his policy proposals and will, “in a friendly way,” illustrate his differences with Cain.
“We initially wanted a forum with all of the candidates,” O’Sullivan says. “But when we heard Gingrich say he wanted a more serious debate, like the Lincoln–Douglas debates, we wanted to do that, especially since watching the recent superficial debates has been frustrating.”
Organizing the event was relatively easy, he adds. “We had a relationship with Herman Cain. He spoke at our tea-party event six months ago. We contacted him, asking if he was interested in a Lincoln–Douglas debate on entitlements. Then we got in touch with Speaker Gingrich.”
“This debate is going to be dominated by the candidates going back and forth, in a respectful way,” O’Sullivan says. “It will be divided into parts, one for each major entitlement — Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid — with each candidate detailing their arguments.”
No broadcast network has agreed to air the exchange but O’Sullivan is hopeful. “These two candidates have been the most interesting people to watch in the debates,” he says. “So having them together for a modified Lincoln–Douglas debate will be great; it’ll be a real opportunity for the conversation about entitlements to get serious.”