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White: Perry's Refusal to Debate Disses Voters

By JUAN A. LOZANO
|  Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010  |  Updated 5:15 PM CDT
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White: Perry's Refusal to Debate Disses Voters

Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston Mayor Bill White.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White on Wednesday accused Republican Gov. Rick Perry of disrespecting Texas voters by refusing to debate him.

Perry, who is running for an unprecedented third full term, has said he wouldn't square off with the former Houston mayor in a televised debate unless White releases all of his tax returns for the years he's been in public service. Perry's deadline was Wednesday.

White said Perry's refusal to debate is not about releasing tax records but about the governor refusing to answer tough questions about his job performance, including a projected multibillion-dollar state budget shortfall.

"The more he can be scripted in 30-second TV ads to talk about (President Barack) Obama, the less people will think about how he's doing his job. That's his game," White said during a news conference at his campaign office in Houston.

Perry, who was expected to make a campaign stop in Houston later Wednesday, has said he has a duty as governor to confront White over missing tax records.

White said he has released detailed information about his finances while Perry has not been forthright with information that shows his debts or assets.

Perry has released all of his income tax returns dating back to 1987. White has released tax returns from 2004 to 2009, when he was mayor of Houston. But he hasn't for the years he was deputy energy secretary or chairman of the Texas Democratic Party in the mid-1990s.

Candidates are not required to give out their tax returns under state ethics laws, but it has become a standard practice in major statewide campaigns.

Both candidates have been invited to a debate sponsored by the state's largest daily newspapers and public television station KLRU on Oct. 19. The sponsors of the debate, to be held at the University of Texas at Austin, have indicated it would take place even if only one candidate shows up.

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