Saying Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) was not afraid of confrontation but doesn't want to get "in the gutter" with his Democratic opponents, Dornan's chief aide said Friday that the congressman probably will not appear for a KOCE-TV interview Thursday.
Jim Cooper, election show host and executive producer for the Huntington Beach public television station, sent a mailgram to Dornan Thursday, pleading for him to appear on his show featuring candidates for the 38th Congressional District post.
Cooper also promised "to move this TV production date to any day in May to meet your schedule" and that of the other candidates. He called Dornan's congressional race "one of the most important of all the upcoming races (in Orange County) in the June primary."
However, Brian O'Leary Bennett, Dornan's chief of staff, said it was "unlikely" that Dornan will appear. Dornan did not wish to debate two Democrats, neither of whom has yet become the Democratic nominee, Bennett said.
Also, he said, "both (Superior Court Judge David O.) Carter and (Assemblyman Richard) Robinson (D-Garden Grove) are already in the gutter" when it comes to discussing Dornan's record. "So neither should we dignify them" by appearing with them.
Both Carter and Robinson have spent much of their primary campaign tearing into Dornan's record on foreign policy and his gaffes in Congress, including a recent controversial remark in which Dornan referred to a Soviet commentator as a "betraying little Jew."
Aides for both Democratic candidates challenged Bennett's explanation of why Dornan would probably not appear.
"I guess Bob Dornan thinks that debating the issues is in the gutter," said Robinson campaign manager Hope Warschaw. "I can't wait until the fall. Dick Robinson has always run a campaign on a positive note, and we will have a good time on the straight and narrow."
However, while Robinson has said he will appear on the program, "we only gave a tentative yes," Warschaw said. Robinson cannot guarantee he will be there because Assembly business may require his presence, she said.
Carter has pledged to appear in what could be the first meeting of the two Democrats in the campaign. Carter campaign aide George Urch said Bennett's remark showed that "Mr. Dornan is scared to face Dave Carter and discuss his (Dornan's) embarrassing record in Congress. Dave Carter will debate Robert Dornan anytime, any place, anywhere."
Also scheduled to appear on the show is peace activist Frank Boeheim, the Peace and Freedom candidate in the race. Although the KOCE taping for the 38th congressional race is Thursday morning, the show is not scheduled to air until May 30 and 31.