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September 7, 2000

Myers and Giardina get opposite receptions from Underwood, Wise
by The Associated Press

CHARLESTON (AP) -- Third-party gubernatorial candidates Denise Giardina and Bob Myers won't be patching up their differences with Bob Wise anytime soon.

Giardina and Myers issued a personal invitation Wednesday to the Democratic nominee to join them in a series of debates. A campaign spokesman for U.S. Rep Wise, D-W.Va., responded by asking the two candidates to hand-deliver a message to Gov. Cecil Under wood asking him for more one-on-one debates.

''Since you seem to have more rapport with (Underwood) than we do, would you please carry this message back to him,'' Wise spokesman Mike Plante said to Giardina and Myers.

''We want more one-on-one debates,'' Plante said.

Giardina, an Independent, said any rapport she has with Underwood is based on the governor's willingness to debate all candidates. She and Myers, a Libertarian, have been frustrated by Wise's insistence that he should debate only Underwood, not third-par ty candidates.

Giardina, Myers and several followers visited Wise's and Underwood's campaign headquarters Wednesday, presenting campaign officials with an invitation to participate in six scheduled debates at colleges across West Virginia.

The debates should also include Natural Law Party candidate Russell Ashelman, Giardina and Myers said. Ashelman has said he wants to participate in all gubernatorial debates.

Underwood spokesman Rob Blackstone greeted Wednesday's entourage cordially. The governor intends to participate in one of the debates, Oct. 26 at Fairmont State College, and will see if he can fit other debates into his schedule, Blackstone said.

The meeting lasted less than five minutes.

But Giardina and Myers were given a different reception after walking the four blocks from Underwood's to Wise's headquarters.

Plante told Giardina and Myers he would pass the invitation along to Wise. But he also said Wise is scheduled to join Underwood, Giardina and Myers in an Oct. 15 League of Women Voters debate and that Wise participated in an August 18 forum in Wheeling t hat included the four candidates.

Giardina said Wise is talking in generalities about prescription drugs and other issues. ''We would like to have a real substantive debate,'' Giardina said.

Myers said Wise is ''hiding behind the Democratic majority.''

''You are the problem. The third parties may offer a solution,'' he said.

Myers called the meeting with Plante ''confrontational, but fun.''


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