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June 19, 2012

Brown agrees to debate Warren, with conditions

Says Kennedy's widow must stay out of the race

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown said yesterday that he'll agree to a debate proposed by the widow of Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, but only if she agrees to remain neutral throughout the Senate race and the media sponsors are changed to exclusively local state news outlets.

Victoria Kennedy sent letters to the Massachusetts Republican and his Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, inviting them to go head-to-head at the University of Massachusetts campus, near where the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is being built.

A spokeswoman for the Kennedy Institute responded Monday, saying the organization looks forward to negotiating the terms of the debate with both campaigns.

Warren has agreed to the Sept. 27 debate. Brown at first declined to say whether he would participate.

On Monday, Brown's campaign issued a release saying he'd agree to the debate as long as what his campaign called "neutrality conditions" are met by Kennedy.

One of those conditions is that she agrees not to endorse any candidate in the race. Another is that only Massachusetts news outlets participate in the event, meaning that MSNBC could not serve as a sponsor, although Tom Brokaw could remain as moderator.

"In order to proceed, we need to know that in keeping with the spirit of neutrality expressed in Vicki Kennedy's letter that she will not endorse or otherwise get involved in this race," Brown's campaign manager Jim Barnett wrote in a letter dated Monday to the Kennedy Institute.

"Furthermore, while we accept Tom Brokaw as a moderator, we prefer debates with local media sponsors, not out-of-state cable networks with a reputation for political advocacy," Barnett added. "We are confident that issue can be easily addressed as there are a number of Massachusetts media outlets that would be willing to sponsor a debate."

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