TV Networks Asked to Broadcast Session : LaRouche, Sumner Agree to Debate Monday
Linked by satellite television, political extremist Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. and Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Bruce Sumner will conduct a debate Monday on “Democratic principles,” Sumner and a spokeswoman from LaRouche’s Leesburg, Va., headquarters confirmed Friday.
“They’ll flip a coin for who starts,” said Dana Scanlon, press coordinator for LaRouche and the political action panel of his National Democratic Policy Committee.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I think it’s going to give the citizens of California, as well as hopefully the citizens of the nation, a chance to hear more about Mr. LaRouche’s policies around the nation,” Scanlon said.
LaRouche, a 1988 presidential contender, claims to be backing several thousand candidates for public office across the country on a platform that includes identifying and quarantining AIDS victims, increasing steel production and building a laser beam defense system.
Exactly who will hear the broadcast--other than a few reporters who will be invited into Sumner’s television studio--is not yet clear, Sumner and Scanlon said. Late Friday, both sides said they were still trying to get television networks to pick up some or all of the broadcast.
Sumner, who is running as a write-in candidate in the 40th Congressional District against LaRouche follower Art Hoffmann, has said LaRouche’s beliefs are “evil,” “bizarre” and “anathema” to Democratic ideals. On May 22 he formally challenged LaRouche to debate him on whether he and his followers belonged in the Democratic Party.
In a rambling, nine-page mailgram, LaRouche responded Thursday that he would not debate on the subject of whether or not he was a Democrat. But LaRouche said he would like to debate Sumner or other Orange County Democrats on the party’s role over the next two years.
Initially, Sumner said he would not debate on LaRouche’s terms because to do so would be to acknowledge that LaRouche was a Democrat. But by Friday afternoon he had changed his mind.
“I’ve talked directly to LaRouche,” he said. “I said all along I don’t feel that he’s a Democrat. I want to challenge him. “
According to spokesmen for LaRouche and Sumner, LaRouche will go to a television studio near his headquarters and Sumner will go to the Bonneville Studios in Los Angeles. At 10 a.m., they will flip a coin to decide who will go first.
Sumner and LaRouche will then have three minutes each for opening remarks, another four minutes each to discuss national Democratic policy, four more minutes to discuss Democratic policy on international affairs and another three minutes for a closing statement.
Late Friday, no television network had agreed to carry the broadcast, but David Paine, a spokesman for Sumner, said both sides were hoping that major television networks would decide to pick up some or all of the broadcast.
In addition to Hoffmann, 13 other LaRouche followers are on the ballot in Orange County--10 running for Democratic Central Committee slots, one running for the 39th Congressional District seat and two running for the Assembly.
Hoffmann, a 30-year-old technical writer, is the only LaRouche follower with no Democrat listed opposite him on the ballot, and so would automatically win a seat on the Democratic Party Central Committee if he wins Tuesday’s primary.
In an effort to prevent Hoffmann from becoming his party’s standard-bearer, Sumner in March began a difficult write-in campaign against him.